Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron is a vertically scrolling shooter. It adds a skill system with multiple pilots and planes. As one who hasn’t played many myself, I encourage all fans and new to the genre to get this. You can replay levels to gain more skills and level up, which will have you replaying levels over and over to complete everything the game has to offer. The first shoot em’ up I played was in 1989 when I was six years old and played on an arcade cabinet in Turkey (on a military base). Not since then have I played one that has given me so much enjoyment until now!
Here’s what I liked:
Skills– There is a light RPG system in place here. You can level up and gain skills to make your squadron more powerful. Each pilot has their own set, and it really makes your decisions impact the difficulty of the game. Because all pilots fly with you each mission, it is important to disperse the skills obtained between them all. You’re only as strong as your weakest member. Skills make the replay value of the game exceed expectations. Without this mechanic, the game would be like most other shooters and you’d get tired of playing it quite fast.
Pacing– The game at first starts out slow, where you don’t have any skills or cool active abilities. You may at this point decide the game isn’t for you, thinking it to be a bit bland. However, once you start upgrading it gets extremely addicting. You will find yourself lost in dozens of fierce air combat missions, trying to level up and get stronger for the next. The last boss is quite difficult, so you’ll be grinding away in previous missions to get powerful enough to beat him. This also feels like an RPG, where you must go make sure you’re leveled up enough to handle the final Ace. There are also chances of other bosses dropping upgraded versions of your planes and even blueprints for new ones. It keeps you actually wanting to play and you won’t mind the grind. Once you have completed everything, you can try your bullet avoiding prowess in harder difficulty settings.
Aces — Bosses in this game are simply fantastic. Not overly hard and all aces have completely different attacks and methods to defeat them. Once defeated you get a random award. You will be going back for more in an attempt to get the random loot they drop. It can be exciting to find upgraded planes and you’ll continue to try for better drops. Learning their attacks will come at ease and never too frustrating. You won’t mind playing them until you feel you’ve gained everything they had to offer!
Mission Length– Each mission will only cost you a few minutes of your time. It’s perfect in duration for leveling your squad. It doesn’t create the complete dread when you die and need to try again. It’s quick in and out, with rewards every time you finish a level. Every chapter leads up to an Ace to destroy, and if you can’t defeat it, you can feel at ease that leveling up won’t take too long.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Squad Personal Issues — While it adds dynamic and some backstory, it sure is annoying when your squad has issues mid-flight. Each pilot has a different problem, some being worse than others: scared of heights, falling asleep, feeling sick from poison and one who enrages and if you run into him you die. It adds a little challenge, but please just let me shoot things out of the sky! They don’t happen randomly, they’re in specific places during certain missions. The narrative illustrates the awareness of them being pilots in critical missions, yet have conditions that can make everything go wrong. The best line in the game is “Who hired these guys”. Yes, indeed, who let them skip their physical?
Power ups — There seems to be a lack of power-ups. There are a few well-designed ones, but not enough to really keep things interesting. They don’t seem randomized either, as I replayed one level several times, I memorized when the powers would drop and what they would be. This leaves the excitement of randomized gameplay completely out of the pictures. If there were a few more (maybe spread shot, freeze gun, etc) and they were all random, it would make every level feel a little bit different each time they were played.
Aces of Luftwaffe – Squadron is an addictive experience you won’t want to miss. Even those who don’t normally don’t enjoy the genre will feel quite appeased with their decision to try it out. The skill system sets this apart from many others like it, and you’ll love maxing out each character and attempting higher difficulties. With only minor setbacks which is completely an opinion, some may consider this game near perfect. The achievement list is fun to tackle and nothing seems impossible or overly difficult. The fierce and frantic gameplay is eased with the generous four lives you get. While it won’t be for everyone, it will be enjoyed by most.
Score: Highly Recommended
Aces of Luftwaffe – Squadron was published and developed by HandyGames on Xbox One. It was released on July 24, 2018 for $14.99. A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes.