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There are generally two different categories that air combat/sim games fall into: simulator or arcade/survey.  They mix a bit, shifting toward one side or the other but mostly there are the realistic simulation games where you are constantly watching air speed, checking for stalls, watching wash, etc. and then there is the arcade style which generally has safe flight decks, easy landings, and concentrates mainly on blowing stuff up.  Air Conflicts: Vietnam is a classic arcade-style air combat game, giving you lots of weapons, lots of targets, and plenty of explosions – just what the casual gamer wants.

Description:
Vietnam War. It is the year 1965. A conflict, that began 20 years ago, escalates. Vietnam is a divided country.  The communistic North fights against the anti-communistic South in a fierce civil war.  The USA are at Cold War with the Soviet Union and, in order to demonstrate their interests, they decide to support South Vietnam in the fight against the communistic Vietcong troops.

Witness the story of Joe Thompson, a brave pilot of the US Air Force during the Vietnam War. He reaches Vietnam as one of the first soldiers of the USA.  He is young, talented and dutiful.  The will to serve his country and to help people by doing that dominates his life.  Take a seat in the pilot’s seat of jet fighters and helicopters, those war machines that were used during the Vietnam War for the first time in history, and experience explosive aerial combat in a class of its own and accompany Joe on his way to become a real ace.  But during this war he will face an acid test.  What Joe experiences in Vietnam will change him forever and even the relationship to his family on another continent, watching his mission from afar. They can reach him only by writing letters …

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Features:

  • Experience the Vietnam War, one of the most explosive wars of all time, that was fought extremely heavily armed! Witness the experiences of the brave pilots of the US Air Force.
  • After a battle there can never be only winners! Get yourself carried away by a thrilling and emotional story and, besides heroic moments, experience the dark sides of war.
  • Brand new missions, tailor-made for helicopter pilots! Besides jet fighter missions you must complete special helicopter missions, where the whole equipment of the choppers needs to be used.
  • Take control of whole squadrons! Instead of controlling just one airplane, you can control every aircraft in your squadron in the respective missions.
  • Equip your airplanes and helicopters with real weapons! All possible plane-weapons-combinations (chopper-weapons-combinations) are based on real models.
  • A real setting combined with arcade gameplay! Every airplane can only be equipped with a limited amount of ammunition. You can avoid this restriction as you switch between the different planes of a squadron.
  • A game that never gets boring! Play multiple single player and innovative multiplayer modes.
  • A huge war machinery for you to choose from! The game contains a total of more than 20 airplanes and helicopters.

Hands On:
With only a few, quick minutes of flight lessons, this game is a definite pick up and play arcade titles.  You can start and, for the most part, finish the game’s various missions in a short time then come back and play again later.  If you like the game though you will probably find yourself in the “just one more mission” kind of play session.  The missions vary greatly, both in difficulty and what is required of you, and give you the opportunity to use a very wide variety of weapons and aircraft to get the job done.  Often they suggest one way of completing a mission, but creative minds who maybe favor a certain type of craft or weapon can find a different way.

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When in dog fighting missions you have to practically suicide to hit the deck, so it is all about the enemy crafts.  The map size is very limited, with  red out-of-bound borders around its perimeter that you can cross and as long as you swing back into bounds quickly won’t get you killed.  This is good because enemy aircraft routinely head out there without penalty. So, if you truly want to pursue them, you have to join them in their breaking of engagement rules.  Other than that, the real key to the game’s air to air combat is sticking to an enemy like crazy, watch for missile warnings, and hit them as fast as possible.  The longer the battle goes on, the more planes you will lose from your squadron no matter how good your shooting is.  You can also change from plane to plane in your squadron which is handy if you run low on ammo and ordinance, but it is smart to try to get a visual on the plane you are switching to first otherwise on occasion when the computer is at the stick it will fly through the jungle at full speed 5 feet off the ground which will become instant death for you.

Another thing to watch out for is that when you are landing your helicopter, regardless of whether it has wheels or skids, you have to make sure you nose is perfectly neutral so that your speed drops to zero otherwise as soon as you near the ground your helicopter will explode and mission will fail.  It took me some trial and error to learn this one so I figured I would save our readers the pain.  With these few things in mind, you can get a good 15-20 hours of playtime out of the campaign as long as you watch all the cutscenes and mission briefs. This also includes single player custom missions, multiplayer, and mission replayability.  You will probably get a little burned out of the music after a while as there are only a handful of songs and only a couple really fit the era.

Storyline:
This isn’t something I normally get too much into other than to say it is “thin” or “rich” and I let the description from the game’s website speak for itself.  This time though, it needs to be addressed.  There are basically two story lines that progress in the game: One a historical description of the war’s events told from a militaristic, analytical  point of view.  Having studied the Vietnam War very extensively, I can vouch for its accuracy.  The other storyline is told through letters from home to Joe and some cutscenes which mass together the experiences of many Vietnam veterans into one single account.  This results in a very depressing anti-war storyline that makes you think twice about playing the next mission from time to time if you get into it too far.  Since arcade shooters are mainly designed to be fairly simple with “pick up and play” ideologies – putting an emphasis on having fun rather than being bummed out by real life war facts, I would recommend for those who just want to enjoy themselves to skip the “Dear Joe” letters.  If you really want to read an “heavy” portrayal of what our servicemen had to deal with during this conflict then pay close attention to them.

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Last Call:
Air Conflicts: Vietnam is a decent air combat arcade game with tons of short missions that you can play a little or a lot with a great variety of weapons and missions.  If you don’t want to get bogged down in the details of flaps and stall speeds, you just want to fly mission and shoot bad guys this is the game for you.  If you want to learn a bit of history while you are at it this is also a great opportunity.  Just know that if you read the Dear Joe letters you are going to know the darkest parts of a Vietnam veteran’s ordeal.
[easyreview title=”Air Conflicts: Vietnam Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”3″ ]

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Ripper71

Dustin "Ripper71" Thomas has been a staff writer with GamingShogun.com for over five years and has taken on the role of editor with a brief stint as Editor-In-Chief. He is also a co-founder of @IsItOctoberYet where he covers haunt nightmares and amusement park fun.