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Wing Arms Reviewed by Lee Miller on . Rating: 64%
Wing Arms
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
For some reason throughout the history of gaming the console fighter airplane simulators never seem to be remembered in the annals of gaming lore. Perhaps that is because even recently most of these games are still mediocre at best. I suppose it may have something to do with the complex physics and the fine line between realistic and arcade action, there's also a steep learning curve that may force gamers to eject from the experience. Sure, a few games have successfully found a way of balancing that tightrope (the Star Wars flight games and Ace Combat for example), but by and large this is just one genre that is harder than it looks. Wing Arms was an in-house Sega game that was forgotten ... but perhaps should be better remembered.

In this game's alternate reality, an alliance of arms manufactures manipulated World War II for their own financial gains. After the war the group, called Avalon, tries to start the war back up so they can get even richer. To achieve this they are destroying the other nation's military installment, which I guess is supposed to make the nations fight each other. Stop for a minute. One thing I always say is that war games need some alternate reality stories. I have to give Sega props for attempting to make their own story out of actual historic event. It's a functional story sure, but the way Sega delivers it (through a talking head of a general) just isn't terribly interesting.

Speaking of the cut scenes, the emotion conveyed through the voice over is terribly unemotional and makes no effort to lip sync. The sound effects in-game are realistic sounding, but dull, as frequently it's just you in the sky with you enemies out of earshot. As previously stated, though, the guns, missiles, and engines all sound pretty good. The game also has great water sounds for when your rounds hit the water. So it's a mixed bag, nothing that is going to make or break the game.

Being based in reality, you are granted seven period planes, a mix of the best from each WWII front and cutting-edge planes that never quite made it into the war ... but would have been in production had the war continued into this alternate reality. The planes don't perform much differently from each other; the only difference is what they look like and how they sound. The plane you decide on comes down to which one looks the best to you. Go by national pride, or just the pick the shiny one. It really doesn't matter.

The planes themselves look great, very impressive for an early generation Saturn game. This may be made possible by the rather bland ground. Not that bland ground is an issue, you'll spending most of your time focused on your opponents and not looking at the backgrounds. These opponents range from realistic airplanes and ships, to massive 2D shooter-style boss military installments. In true old-school style these level ending boats and fortifications spew out tons of hard to dodge flack, missiles, and bullets.

This difficulty is compounded by the controller. As experience tells us, digital D-pads just don't work well for 3D gaming. That's not to say that controls aren't functional, of course, the controls are manageable. Anyone who's played an old first-person shooter will know how to win at this game. Strafe your reticule over the target (oh, excuse me, "yaw"). Of course Sega knew their game was a pain in the ass to control and put a nice big ad for their flight stick, the "Mission Stick." Sega wants you to buy a "Mission Stick" and play with it ... or at least borrow your friends.

Wing Arms plays and looks like a spiritual predecessor to Ace Combat; from the huge end level targets to the arcade-like unrealism to the great graphics in the air (and crappy graphics on the ground). It's these similarities that will have you asking why you don't just pick up the newest Ace Combat game. It's probably the best World War II-era 3D aircraft game on consoles, but that's a list as long as Verne Troyer is tall. Unless you're an aircraft freak (and have played everything to death) you are probably best off picking up something new.
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