CRI’s Aerowings was one of the launch titles for the Sega Dreamcast. Featuring a very realistic flight model and graphics that could rival the high end PC flight sims, it was impressive. In fact, it could be considered the first true console flight sim.
However, despite being a good title, the squad-based flying became more of a chore, and gamers were looking forward to a little combat. It is now a year since the monumental Dreamcast launch, and now we’re seeing sequels to these launch titles.
Aerowings 2: Air Strike is one of those titles, and yes, it does provide combat at last. At first glance, Aerowings 2 looks identical to its predecessor, involving training missions to improve your skills as a pilot. But instead of piloting Japanese Blue Impulse craft for air shows, we are now flying American combat fighters. The whole training experience could feel like a Top Gun video game, and in essence, that’s what it is.
While the beginning sessions consist of basics like taking off, turning and landing, the later missions involve ACMs (Air Combat Maneuvers) where the objective is to lock on an opponent for five seconds. And let me say these lock-ons can be very difficult to get, even with the techniques you learn in flight school.
In addition to the flight school missions, there are 15 combat challenges to test out. Whether it’s shooting out stationary balloons or actual fighters, there are varying degrees of difficulty to overcome.
In addition, there is a free flight mode where every environment possible can be selected (a military base, over the water, the middle of the city), whether you want to take off from an airport, an aircraft carrier, or start off in the air. You can even select if you want someone to combat or just fly for fun.
The impressive replay feature that the first game had is back, and it is as impressive as ever, offering God-knows how many different camera angles. I ended up watching some of my best combat sessions over and over again because of how gorgeous it was.
And speaking of gorgeous, that describes the graphics perfectly. As I mentioned before, they can rival even the best PC flight sim with almost no slowdown at all. Sound is basic, not much to really talk about, except the gunfire sounds strange, almost like someone having a bad case of flatulence.
Aside from that, Aerowings 2 continues the impressive flight action the first game had, with the much awaited combat. As the first true sequel to a Dreamcast launch title, Aerowings 2 gets 4 1/2 out of 5 for its impressive flight model, but some of the sounds (gunshots especially) leave a lot to be desired.