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Posted on May 5, 2010 in Electronic Games

Wings of Prey – PC Game Review

By Singleton Mosby

Now keep your crate steady, trick the enemy in his Messerschmitt and fall upon him from above when he is unaware, your finger on the trigger and your focus on the crosshairs. A few short burst and the German Messerschmitt billows smoke. One long burst for the coup de grace and Jerry’s right wing breaks off, flames erupt, and a parachute opens. You can shout your first Tally Ho! You’re on your way to becoming an ace.

The tutorial is a good way to accustom yourself to the controls of your machine, to giving orders to your wingman, and how best to engage the enemy and bomb ground targets and ships. Unfortunately, the instructor’s voice can’t always be heard clearly through radio-chatter and engine-noise. Tips on the screen tell you what to do, but you don’t know why. Apart from this, the 10-step tutorial is very good, and once all of these ten training missions have been accomplished, you will be able to take on the enemy in dozens of single-player missions, the story driven campaign, or in multi-player games.

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Wings of Prey offers four different multi-player modes. Dogfight is a free-for-all battle for the skies. Team battle, as its name suggests, allows players to team up for the same sort of fight. In Strike mode you attack ground targets and, finally, there is an airborne version of capture the flag: Capture Airfields.

The complete campaign is 50 missions long and takes you to all corners of Europe—you’ll fly for Britain, Russia and the USA in succession. There is, unfortunately no German campaign. Gaijin Entertainment fills this void with their first add-on, "Wings of Luftwaffe," which offers 10 German missions and two new planes for the rather steep price of $15.00.

Missions can sometimes be quite difficult—as in endless—to accomplish. You have no idea where to go and what to do to achieve the goals set out for you. A restart might help but having to restart a mission three times and still not knowing how to finish it is annoying.

Wings of Prey offers three different modes of play: Arcade, Realistic and Simulation. In Arcade, with every flying aid on, you can do almost anything with your plane and it won’t stall or falter. In Realistic mode only a few crucial flying aids are enabled. You’ll need to correct your fire to correspond with the enemies flying speed and direction. The performance of your craft will deteriorate when damaged, and you have to judge for yourself how badly damaged it is. Because of the realistic physics in this mode, you have to pay attention to spins and stalls.

After a few hours fiddling around in Arcade mode I switched over to Realistic and found I had a seriously difficult time avoiding and getting out of stalls. But after seeing my plane disappear below the waves a dozen times I knew what not to do and how to get it back in control when I made too sudden a maneuver. Loops, rolls and other stunts took more time to master, but it was all very gratifying and makes for challenging and satisfying combat.

You can get quite easily become disoriented doing an inside-loop; barrel-rolls are easier to handle and very effective for getting Jerry off your tail. If you are desperate and "the Indians" are about to turn your plane into a sieve, you might want to try an Immelman turn to reverse direction 180 degrees.

In Simulation mode, all aids are stripped and it is all up to you. You can only use the cockpit view and have no radar-map or indicators to differentiate friendly planes from those of the enemy. However, this mode is not a full-blown simulation in which players take off from the airfield and climb to height on the way to their missions. As the other modes, scenarios begin with the plane already in the air. Some serious concessions have been made to playability over realism, and those looking for a hardcore flight-sim will find there are better titles on the market. Wings of Prey is clearly meant for players who do not care about things like oil pressure and the "trip back home."

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