Who doesn’t love a good brawl in the sky? I guess most of us had the dream – of putting on a leather jacket and taking to the skies. Mine, unlike the others was molded by World War II and tales of Spitfires and Hurricanes. Top Gun came much later. With that kind of love, I usually jump at the chance of playing combat simulation games.
Being an air controller sounds nice, but pales when you get to shoot bullets and darts at an oncoming enemy. Air Wings lets you pilot a paper plane in the starter free version. But don’t get disappointed yet, because the feeling of gliding and piloting one across the obstacles is fun. So, jump into the cockpit, put on the goggles, and rev up the engines. We are going to shoot down a few!
The Game Center Is Your Battlefield
Air Wings is available for both iOS and Android. We are flying with the review on the version for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Air Wings requires iOS 5.0 or later. Air Wings is a multiplayer online air simulation game and there is no solo mode. So, make sure you are ready to go up against the best of the rest. Air Wings is free but ad-supported. In-app upgrades (the plane packs) give you some advanced flight systems, from propeller planes to something that resembles a four-rotor fighter – the quadrocopter. It also removes the ads.
Basically, Air Wings has two types of aerial matchups –
- 4 players (you battle three opponents on the Game Center)
- 2-4 players (you can go one to one or choose a maximum of three more opponents)
Plus, you can go for a friend rematch against recently played opponents on the Game Center. If you don’t want to select and invite your own friends, you can let Game Center select them randomly with an Auto-match.
Air Wings has eleven different levels (plus the training level). Levels are determined by the game as well as by in-app Level Pack purchases. Levels differ in the environment and the obstacles. They come with names like Sandbox, Loop, Maze, Deathmatch etc. There are seven different airplanes to choose from, from the basic paper planes to “advanced space-age” fighters. Each, quite obviously, differ in their maneuverability and weapon systems which are things you are likely to find around the house (spit wads, rubber bands, heat seeking pencils, firecracker bombs, and suction cups).
But First…The Training Grounds
Air Wings is based on the use of your device’s gyroscope and accelerometer. The gyroscope is just the thing for piloting a plane and calibrating its yaw, pitch, and roll. You can calibrate both the sensors within the game and the training mode could be just the place before you head for the air battle.
The Training Level does not have any aerial dogfights and all you have to learn is to pilot the plane by tilting your device along the three axes and avoiding the obstacles while controlling the flight with the four buttons. With the tilt controls, flying the plane is pretty much intuitive. One of the nicer features of the game is the calibration controls on the game play screen which allows you to control the yaw, pitch, and roll if you find them to be slightly offset.
Another button helps you increase speed, literally with the wind behind your back. But use this strategically as it is not unlimited and you have to earn it by flying through the golden coins. Just as health and and also bonus points.
Ammunition can be replenished by flying them through the flashlights lighted up like beacons with the power-ups floating above them. During training it is all fine, but is a challenge when you are dodging fire from enemy planes and have to maneuver around obstacles.
The tool to do that successfully is on the left of the screen – the radar. Keep an eye on it for incoming threats, even as the arrow points you towards the fight.
Whichever mode you choose to compete in, the game sends you instantly into the fight. You might be hit just after you tap on the plane to help it take-off. But there are three lives, so you live to fly and fight again. The trick is to continuously replenish your weaponry as you twist and weave around the battle arena avoiding the attacks. If player photos are enabled from the settings, you can see them buzzing by. Air Wings has a Spectator-cam which if switched on can project the aerial combat on a HDTV (via AirPlay), but I suspect very few of us around the world have it.
Air Wings is a rapid-fire fast-paced game where you live and die with your dexterity. You won’t be able to wildly loop the plane and test it against the G-forces, but the simulation is good enough for a dogfight. And all of it is reflected on the Battle Leaderboard which shows the kills. The occasional Game Center timeouts are there and will be. I went for the first plane pack upgrade and played a few rounds with the nice Balsa wood plane. It resulted in my not being able to choose the upgraded plane on the first try and the upgrade notification popped up. But that sorted out later. Even if you don’t go for an upgrade, it is fun to dogfight with the smooth paper plane. The Retina graphics are neat and the sound effects not too jarring. Note the nice touch of smoke coming out when a plane is hit.
Air Wings explains the scoring patterns and the game play in the Instructions.
As a simulation game, I would say – yes, go for it. A lot of our readers have and that’s why it’s there on our Best iPhone Games page. Survive the dogfights, rack up a few kills, and come here to boast. But remember, you don’t get points for flaking out from the fight.