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Airforce Delta Storm

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:   Konami
Publisher:   Konami
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Action
ESRB:   Everyone
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Card
Date Posted:  

12-23-01

It never fails. Developers get a shiny new piece of hardware to play with, one which will allow them to push graphical boundaries to new heights. And yet, in their rush to get a game out the door at the launch of that hardware, they forget that there should be a solid playing game to back it up. Thatís the case with Airforce Delta Storm (AFDS), a game that clearly focuses more on technical merits than providing a great playing experience.

Set sometime in the near future (the year 20X1, which is an excuse not to provide a specific year), AFDS finds you in the realm of a mercenary. The world has been divided into the Haves and the Have Nots, and naturally the two sides are at war with each other. This is your opportunity to profit, so you set out to conquer 50 or so missions and earn yourself lots of cash. And thatís basically it. Thereís little character development throughout the game, and you find yourself with no other motivation than to earn more money and buy better looking planes. Compared to the storyline in Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies, itís a joke. Strike 1.

The gameplay is about what youíd expect. As you travel through the 50 different missions, youíll be able to earn up to 70 different aircraft to control. What sets this game apart is that each mission map is set up almost like a platform game (think Super Mario Worldís map). You move across this map through the use of move points, which only allow you to fly over a certain number of hot spots at a time. Thereís one objective on the map that you must reach and conquer, but along the way youíll have to fly through various "hot spots" and take out objectives there. Generally this objective is just one specific target, so all you have to do is find the object on your radar that highlights red and blast it. There are other targets that you can take out just for fun (and extra cash), but they donít need to be destroyed to complete that hot spot. This actually adds a bit of strategy to things, as youíll need to pick the right plane (based on its HP, armor, missile capacity, etc.) for the job. And while you can return to your base and repair your plane in the middle of a mission, youíll often have to fight your way back through areas that have been reoccupied by enemy forces.

All of this is OK, but what messes up the gameplay is that itís extremely mindless. For each mission destination and hot spot, you basically just follow the arrow on your screen until you reach the objective(s). Once youíre within range and your missiles lock on, just fire away. Thatís pretty much all there is to the gameplay. Acquire objective #1, blow away objective #1. Rinse and repeat. Of course running out of missiles will make things a bit more difficult, but all you have to do then is take them out with your unlimited ammo machine gun. And running out of missiles rarely happens if you use them with any degree of skill. This wouldnít be too bad if your enemies had a brain, but unfortunately they do not. Avoiding enemy machine gun fire is a very easy task, and youíre given plenty of advance warning to maneuver before an incoming missile makes it to you. Strike 2.

Where this game does shine is in the graphics department. Each of the planes is based on a real-world counterpart, and looks extremely realistic. Everything is self-shadowing, and flying straight into the sun will blind you in a very realistic manner. The weaponry and explosions look awesome as well, and put to shame those in other games in this genre. All of your flaps react realistically as you pilot your craft, as do various enemies (land, air, and sea based). The area each mission is set in is vast, with a good amount of detail on the ground. However, youíll be doing most of your flying from high altitudes and from there everything on the ground blends into a fairly generic mass. There are a few distinct landmarks scattered here and there, but a few more wouldnít have hurt (the mostly empty areas certainly arenít testing the Xboxís power) and wouldíve helped to make it seem like more of a living world.

The sound is nothing special, and is found lacking compared to other games in the genre. The most glaring problem is that there isnít a single bit of radio chatter to be found. Compared to the abundance of quality voice acting found in Ace Combat 4, I just get a real lonely feeling whenever Iím playing AFDS. Are my enemies coordinating anything? Do my allies even speak? Engine and weapons sounds are very generic. While they arenít terrible, itís clear that the real thing wasnít sampled here. The music is forgettable, with a mixture of lame guitar tracks and generic 80ís rock beats. Strike 3.

Highs:

  • Incredible graphics, with only some generic landscapes to mar the experience.
  • Although itís mindless, watching your enemies go down in a ball of fire is always fun.
  • Good mixture of land, sea, and air targets.

Lows:

  • Combat is too mindless, and everything boils down to simple hunt and peck gameplay.
  • The music is pretty lame, and voice acting is nonexistent.
  • No storyline to serve as extra motivation or to give a sense of purpose (other than making money).

Final Verdict: 

Airforce Delta Storm is by no means a bad game, but itís clear that technical merits were given higher priority than the actual gameplay. If youíre a big fan of this genre and donít own a PS2, then AFDS isnít a bad purchase to make. For everyone else, I suggest you go check out Ace Combat 4 (or skip the genre altogether for now) instead.

Overall Score: 6.1

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