Aces of the Luftwaffe – Squadron Review – PlayStation 4

Aces Of The Luftwaffe is a top-down arcade shooter that looks and plays like a modern interpretation of classics like 1942, and all the others that define the genre. While there is a lot to like about this short, fun romp, you may come away from the experience asking if it was worth the retail price. Hopefully breaking it down will help you make up your mind before you make that purchase. Let’s get into it…

While most of the genre trappings remain on display in Aces, there are a handful of changes and additions that help the game to mostly stand on its own merits. The biggest, and arguably coolest, change to the format it being able to control four separate crafts on screen at the same time. Keeping track of each plane while in formation can be tricky with all the bullets flying around on screen, but that’s part of the appeal, as you’ll want to keep your main plane (front and center) from getting hit, as that will result in a traditional lost life. The other three will just be momentarily decommissioned.

Another stand-out design choice is that each character/plane has their own strengths, weaknesses, and develop unique abilities throughout the campaign. This can add a certain level of chess-like lateral thinking and strategy that’s unusual for the genre, and a welcome addition to be sure. Honestly, I’d be surprised if other studios didn’t iterate on some of these design choices down the road.

These are the aspects of Aces that stand out and make for a fun experience that’s more than you can get from similar titles out there. It may not seem like much, but if you’ve played a decent amount of arcade top-down shooters over the years, you’ll notice them instantly.

Visually, Aces has an animated look that mostly works, but does at times evoke the series’ mobile roots, which isn’t exactly a good thing. While the graphics get the job done, there’s nothing there that really goes above and beyond. They’re serviceable without being eye-catching. The voice acting and writing is adequate, but can sometimes feel forced, which humor and light-hearted banter should never be.

Last but not least, the controls and gameplay are what matter most in games like this, and I’m happy to say that both are great in Aces. This is a smooth, fast, and enjoyable bullet-hell title. While it rarely gets so difficult that you’ll find yourself dying repeatedly, there is enough of a challenge there for novice and pro players alike.

Aces is an enjoyable title that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, and adds a few interesting twists to a fairly well-established genre. While it’s retail price is a bit high for what you end up getting, if you’re into top-down shooters, and are looking for a distraction, you could do far worse with your time and money.

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