Get ready to engage in WWF-style air assaults as the World Destruction League introduces us to Wednesday Night Warjetz. With our hosts Kate Maxwell and Jimmy 'Hell Catz' Jackson commentating, we're once again thrust into competition where destruction is rewarded and encouraged.
WarJetz is the second World Destruction League game released by 3DO following. In WarJetz, you'll travel to different parts of the world and battle against your opponent in a variety of competitions. If you played Thunder Tanks, you're already familiar with the general gameplay and probably expect an improved game -- a word of caution, however, as that couldn't be a worse assumption. What you will find with WarJetz is an especially disappointing second game in the World Destruction League series. Instead of improving gameplay, graphics, audio, or whatever, 3DO has taken quite a few shortcuts and produced a sub-par game that in many ways is inferior to the first. It's always mystifying when the next game in a series is worse, but as you'll see, this jet never gets off the ground.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
After watching a short, action-filled intro, expectations are high, as it's exciting and builds anticipation. Before starting, there are three locations around the world to select plus a training mission. Each of these locations consists of three missions where, once completed, a bonus jet becomes available. More missions will become accessible as previous locations are completed.
Once a location is selected, two WWF style announcers give a short introduction of your opponent and location. Kate Maxwell makes a return appearance with her new, caffeine overdosed co-announcer Jimmy Jackson. Unlike Thunder Tanks, their comments are brief and do little to build up the coming match. Instead of bantering or physical comedy, now only short statements are given and you have to question why they were even included.
Before starting the match, you have the option to select a starting jet and a backup jet. These jets each cost a certain amount of bux (cash) which are subtracted every time your aircraft is shot down. Once you lose more bux than you own, the match is over and you're the loser. Most of the time you start out with around 50 bux so if you selected a jet that costs 10 bux, you can get shot down five times. Some of the more powerful jets can cost up to 25 bux, only allowing you to be shot down a minimum of two times. There are ways to gather the cash while flying -- destroyed buildings or enemies often leave bux, allowing you to be shot down more times before losing the match. This concept does add to the gameplay as it allows you to control your own destiny to some degree. During the harder levels, for instance, going out of the way to collect bux may be a good idea if you find yourself repeatedly being destroyed.
I would suggest trying the tutorial before starting actual gameplay, as it will help to familiarize you with the interface and controls. Getting used to how the game operates is also handy since things are continually blowing up all around you. The tutorial is basically a free-for-all as you fly around destroying anything in sight, while trying to avoid ships or artillery targeting you. You should also become familiar with all of the seven power-ups that can be collected and learn how to use them. After mastering the tutorial, which should only take five minutes, you're ready for the first challenge.
The three match challenges at the different locations are fairly simple and take little time to complete, with matches such as capture the flag, collecting more bux than your opponent, escort missions, and destroying your opponent before he gets you. This is also where you'll begin to notice a lack of innovation and low fun factor. Flying around destroying things has some appeal, but they definitely missed on the game's longevity. Even when flying, it's hard to get a feel of actual flight, as it seems to have no relation to physics and there is very little that calls you back or challenges you for more.
The interface is easy and simple to use though, with only a few complaints. In the lower left corner there is an armor bar indicating how many hits you can take along with a special weapons reload indicator showing when it's ready to fire. In the lower right corner there is a useful radar map showing where your opponent is and also mission critical items. These items are even made easier to locate as small arrows around the map help detect them without having to spot them first. Status bars are also included at the top of the screen showing how you are doing compared to your opponent. One last item is the targeting circle. This seemed to have trouble functioning correctly -- when enemies were in the targeting circle and I was firing, it appeared to miss on various occasions. This could be due to the range where the bullets or missiles are affected by gravity or maybe the target is being hit, but you can't tell because nothing is happening to the target visually or audibly.
The controls are also simple and are quickly mastered. The X button fires the main weapon and the square button fires the special weapon. Both of these are pressed most of the time, firing constantly, as the more destroyed, the quicker your goal can be reached. The circle button performs a loop and the triangle toggles between regular dog fighting and bombing. The L1 button is used to decelerate and the R1 button accelerates while L2 and R2 barrel rolls left and right. Left analog stick performs the steering left, right, up, and down, and the right analog stick lets you roll left and right, perform loops and U-turns.
WarJetz does have a number of multiplayer modes that help lengthen the game's playtime. There are four different modes which are Ace (where it's basically you verse everybody else), Flag Grab, Cash Frenzy (where you must beat your opponent in collecting a specified amount of bux first), and Bomb Fest (which is basically bombing more targets before your opponent). The nice thing about WarJetz is that it takes very little time to pick the game up so visiting friends can compete on a similar level. Unfortunately, after thirty minutes, you become bored with all the modes and move on to something else.
The graphics overall were disappointing. After playing Thunder Tanks, I expected an improved graphics engine since it is played on the PlayStation 2 and there was plenty of room for improvement. They somehow found a way, however, to make the engine worse. Now when things explode, they break apart in polygons, often covered up by inadequate balls of fire. You also would like to see some effect from firing you weapons into the ground or water, but they leave no marks. By and large, the detail was weak, failing to generate anything respectable. This game was designed for the PlayStation 2, so why such little energy was spent on the graphics is beyond me. Just having great graphics alone would have improved the game dramatically.
The audio can be best described as bland. The engine sounds from the jets are constant, explosions seem muffled, and when weapons are fired, they generally sound the same no matter what the weapon is. There is so much room for improvement, you have to wonder how much time was spent here too. Just adding some sound effects here really, again, would have helped lengthen the game's replayability.
WarJetz may be best described as an attempt to send a game out the door with as little effort as possible. With marginal graphics, audio and gameplay, you'll quickly find yourself bored and looking for something else. It shouldn't take more than a couple of days before you'll have this one shelved along with a sense that fifty 'bux'? were wasted. As far as renting however, it definitely has potential here, but I'd be cautious before purchasing.