I’ve always been a fan of the worlds created by Games Workshop. Though these are primarily orientated around tabletop gaming there is so much lore and so many well-written stories in those settings that they warrant investigation; even if you aren’t a lover of miniatures. This being said there have been a series of games on both PC and various consoles over the years ready to entice us gamers into the worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40K. Aeronautica Imperialis Flight Command is a new addition to the library of titles and being a bit of a fan I thought I’d give this turn-based strategy game a go and see what’s what.
It’s nice to see spin-offs of major franchises. Sometimes you just want to leave the main players to do their thing and follow the story of a character or organization that might be considered fluff in the grand scheme of things. In Aeronautica Imperialis Flight Command we aren’t interested in big stompy Space Marines or battles raging across the stars we are concentrating on the slightly undersung heroes and heroines of the Imperial Air Corps. These fighter aces have their own issues to contend with and in this particular case, it’s Orks.
Let’s talk about the campaign first. This isn’t what I’d call a campaign in the truest sense because there isn’t a story that evolves as you go. This mode has a board game feel. You need to win a certain number of points to win outright. You set the game length, (number of points needed,) and difficulty and away you go. After that, you choose from a series of missions each with varying objectives that will grant you points if you complete them.
Missions range from dogfights which simply ask you to knock out enemy fighters to escort missions, cargo drops, and so on. The fact that you can choose from two missions at a time means that you can go for the ones you feel you stand the most chance of completing or find the most enjoyable. This in theory negates any difficulty spikes and that’s actually quite clever. Sadly I don’t have a lot of other positive things to say here.
The campaign in general feels rushed and a bit thrown together. There isn’t a great variety of missions and the maps you fly over are limited and pretty basic. This is a game where they could have given you loads of terrain to hide behind, ambush from, or in the case of mountains, avoid. There just isn’t enough there to really add any strategic depth.
You can only play from the Imperial side so if you fancy leading the Orks to victory it isn’t going to happen. Considering the campaign should be the main focus of the story in the game this feels like a bit of a strange omission at launch. I’m not sure, though, exactly how much this really matters as there is very little story other than the main premise. There are no protagonists to fall in love with or villains to hate other than maybe ‘Eadboila, the Ork Warboss; just a series of fairly nondescript pilots in planes. There is no voice acting of any sort either so you won’t even feel like you’re in character. There are no plot based cinematics on top of all this so there’s nothing to ground you, (pardon the pun,) and really pull you in.
I completed the campaign on easy. This is something I often do, then go back and up the challenge for another playthrough. Please note I’m not commenting on the game’s difficulty and I was expecting things to ramp up a bit when I played again. The problem is I didn’t want to play again and for a full-release title that isn’t cheap, this isn’t good. Aeronautica Imperialis just didn’t feel exciting. It was nice to see the moves you’d set up for your planes play out but the lack of story just left everything a bit bland and repetitive.
This should be the sort of game that will pull Games Workshop fans in droves. I was really excited to follow a new story in the 40k universe. Sadly, none of what I was looking for as a fan was there. If I hadn’t been told this was a 40k game I could have missed it entirely. Aeronautica Imperialis Flight Command just feels like a pretty shoddy effort with a brand stuck on it. There is a bit of 40k terminology present but nowhere near enough to make it stand out amongst other games in the Warhammer 40k library.
Before missions, you’re given a loadout screen. Here is where you outfit your planes with a variety of weapons and upgrades. This would have been great if there were any. You’re told which planes your using and in the time I played, I didn’t see any upgrades. I wasn’t given any new weapons to play with either. This just added to my feeling that I was doing the same thing over and over again without any real difference other than the odd objective.
Aside from the campaign, you have a series of scenarios to complete. These involve similar missions as the campaign with a bit more story linking them together so they don’t feel completely disjointed. This is a good way of helping you learn the game but as they don’t massively differ in what they offer, completing them doesn’t feel like a must. If completing the scenarios unlocked new planes, abilities, or pilots fair enough. You aren’t really rewarded for your extra time so they feel more like something extra to do as opposed to something worthwhile. In addition to this, there are only currently seven of them. You can play each mission from both sides but it shouldn’t take too long to complete them all.
It feels like the devs have done things a bit back to front. They did the tutorial and scenarios first, then added the campaign. The problem with this is it feels like they just rushed the campaign out to make the game feel finished before it was fleshed out enough to be worth playing. The scenarios could in my opinion happily come later. If this was an Early Access release I’d be a lot more forgiving but it’s not. As a full release, there just isn’t enough there to warrant your money.
Nuts and bolts wise, the graphics are nice if a wee bit basic. The issue isn’t with the quality, (it looks great,) rather the lack of memorable environments and fairly basic setting. Sound is something they could have done a lot with and for me, missed the mark completely on. At the very least it would have been nice to give the pilots a voice but instead we just get a pretty forgettable sound track playing in the background.
Mechanically Aeronautica Imperialis Flight Command is fine. The controls make sense. You set the movement angle of your plane and it’s height/speed and the game does the rest for you. You don’t need to worry too much about firing at things as it’s all done automatically depending on your range. It’s actually one of the few things in this game that I really don’t have any problems with.
All in all, I’m pretty sure Aeronautica Imperialis Flight Command could be a really good game. I also genuinely believe the devs will continue perfecting this title. The issue is that, for me, they have a lot of work to do before it can be called anywhere near finished. This being said I can’t recommend the game in its current state and would advise sticking it in your wishlist and watching what happens with it for now.
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