VIDEO | PC Thursday, June 1, 2017 | 12:15 AM

Our PC videos of Iron Wings

Our PC videos of Iron Wings

After failing to raise enough funds on Kickstarter, Iron Wings is back and almost ready to ship, since it is now available on Steam. It is quite a surprise for us to see the game has been completed so soon, especially when you think all of the Kickstarted projects that have still be reach completion. Because some of you might be wary, we decided to give the game a go a few hours before its release, in order to share our impressions with you. After playing Naps Team's title for a few hours, we can say it's a pretty ambitious project for an independent studio, which usually never comes without consequences. The game's shortcomings are indeed visible, as we have experienced some severe frustration, but it doesn't mean it should be discarded completely. Explanations are inside, but the full preview is only available on the French side.
Note: Please read the update note we've added before our impressions as it could make a big difference in what we say in the article.


Update: The devs have told us that the problems mentioned in our preview have been addressed in time for release and that the game has just launched, a few hours earlier than initially planned. We haven't been able to retry the missions that annoyed us yesterday to confirm it, but we'll try in the near future. What we have seen of the next missions tonight (Wednesday) is that we are a little too often asked to complete objectives in a certain time, which remains frustrating. To be fair though, Iron Wings requires you to understand what the best approach is before you have a chance to succeed. Maybe we are not just patient enough sometimes. There are still design choices that we think are not ideal, though each and every one of them seem to have been made for the purpose of adding variety to the game.

Impressions


From what we've seen so far, Iron Wings can be both fun to play and extremely frustrating, mainly because of the missions in which you have a limited amount of time to take down all the enemy targets. Yesterday, it took us about 45 minutes to complete a 5-minute long mission because we didn't have time to eliminate all the enemy planes beofre the end of the countdown - which, to make it worse, only appeared in the 30 last seconds of the mission. Obviously, we are partly to blame, as we could have completed it sooner with better aiming skills, but it is, we believe, something which should be addressed so the overall experience feels more balanced. We contacted the developers to let them know and they told us they would use our feedback to improve the game, which is good news. As you'll see in the videos, Iron Wings can be a bit rough around the edges visually, especially during cutscenes, but the environments we've seen are quite detailed and they look pretty nice, even when getting closer to the ground. As a result, the game looks better in gameplay sequences than when it tells its story. Considering the small budget the developers certainly had, we still find it quite an achievement for a full 3D game. Now maybe the story should have been told with still images similar to those that can be seen during loading screens. That being said, some real effort has been put in the framing of some of the scenes, which is nice to see when it happens. Though we haven't seen everything the game has to offer, we can say for sure that Naps Team's title is highly capable in some aspects, provided you don't mind the arcade handling, but some things still need some fixing before it's released on Thursday. We'll keep an eye on it to see how it turns out, but if $17.99 is not too high and you like what you see in the videos, you might want to do the same.


On the plus side


+ Pretty good sense of speed
+ Dynamic dogfights
+ Detailed environments overall
+ Efficient arcade gameplay
+ Some efforts on the framing of scenes
+ External view or cockpit view, your choice
+ The price seems right


On the downside


- Character models and animations are dated
- Voice acting is not always convincing enough
- Timed missions can be a pain and are too many
- Audio mixing is not always good enough
- The bombardment mechanic isn't that exciting
- "Hard locking" a target in cockpit view can affect visibility
- The first bombs lack efficiency
(understandable progression-wise, but still odd)

Introduction #1
Introduction #2
Farm work
First missions
Frustration sample
Victory!

All comments

Commented on 2017-06-01 12:54:22
So 2000)
Commented on 2017-06-01 15:00:46
@Driftwotd:

If you played Crimson Skies on PC - or even OG Xbox, does this play anything like it? And how are the story and lore?

Crimson Skies is my favourite Flying game and it had a really great story, characters and lore. The pieces of lore were amazing and fleshed out a lot of the characters, locations and events in the game.

Also, it was great that you needed to do certain things to unlock them instead of them just being handfed to you, it felt like you had achieved something every time you unlocked something. And the rewards being excellent really made you put a lot of effort to try and unlock them.

Unfortunately, the Crimson Skies IP is sadly owned by Microsoft, which can only think 3 ways - Halo, Forza, Gears. So no chance of a new one ever being made. But I guess they don't really need any other exclusives... oh, the irony!
Commented on 2017-06-01 15:19:29
Crimson Skies was developed by FASA. A studio Microsoft killed when their Halo game didn't become a big deal.
Commented on 2017-06-01 15:38:38 In reply to GriftGFX
Thanks for the info.

Though that sucks really hard, they still own the IP and have other internal studios who could develop a new entry in the franchise. But even if they didn't want to use an internal studio, they could use an external studio.

I just really miss Crimson Skies so much. It was cheesy as hell, but everything in that game just clicked with me. I replayed it a lot back in the day.

Unfortunately, the game is so old that all the assets are 640 x 480 resolution, so even if you managed to play it on modern PCs, the quality would be absolutely horrendous.

I would even settle with a HD remaster, wouldn't even need to be a remake, just a remaster to up the resolution for assets and the game itself, plus a few technological conveniences, like having controller support.

I know it won't happen, but damn how I miss Crimson Skies. I've tried finding a similar game, but while some are even better in the gaeplay and controls departments, they never have that special touch/magic to the story, characters and lore that made Crimson Skies such a cult classic in my eyes.

If you or anyone else knows of a similar game, please share as I would really appreciate it.
Commented on 2017-06-01 15:42:37
I got that a little wrong. Was mixing the histories of FASA and Ensemble. They're both studios Microsoft has closed :P But FASA did develop Crimson Skies.
Commented on 2017-06-01 16:17:36 In reply to Sdarts
I might have played a demo on Xbox but I don't remember much of it tbh. Iron Wings is very arcadey, some will find the controls too responsive somehow, as if the planes were very light. As for lore, it's a WW2 game, so there is nothing particularly surprising (but I've only seen the beginning of the adventure). Story is functional but that's not what you'll buy the game for imho.
Commented on 2017-06-01 20:17:39 In reply to Driftwood
Yeah, it's far more on the real life events' side, meaning there's not much they can do with lore. Crimson Skies' universe is based on a 1930s' alternate history, but to be more precise:

"The series is set within an alternate history of the 1930s invented by Weisman and McCoy. Within this divergent timeline, the United States has collapsed, and air travel has become the most popular mode of transportation in North America; as a result, air pirates thrive in the world of Crimson Skies. In describing the concept of Crimson Skies, Jordan Weisman stated he wanted to "take the idea of 16th century Caribbean piracy and translate into a 1930s American setting"."

Wikipedia - Crimson Skies:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimson_Skies

I wish you had played the full game on PC, it was a blast and just dumb fun. Like Freedom Fighters or Rogue Trooper back in the day. It wasn't a marvel of technology or ideas, but aside from technical problems - which I don't remember experiencing any severe one, everything the game did it did excellently. At least in my opinion.
Commented on 2017-06-01 20:51:23 In reply to GriftGFX
Yes, FASA did create the Crimson Skies' IP, a board game and one of the entries in the series, but FASA didn't develop the original Crimson Skies game. The original game, which was for PC only and released back in 2000, was developed by Zipper Interactive - the same developers who created the SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs franchise and developed all the games in it.

Wikipedia - Zipper Interactive:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipper_Interactive

FASA Interactive developed the OG Xbox's port, titled "Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge" back in October, 2003. This port had many differences with the original, but it wasn't like a sequel or anything, they made many changes to accomodate the target audience on console.

Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimson_Skies:_High_...

FASA also made a Crimson Skies board game, titled "Crimson Skies: A Game of Aerial Combat)" back in 1998. The board game was made to showcase the Crimson Skies' universe and lore in hopes of expanding it in other ways - like the game(s). Interestingly, it won a few awards:

"The Crimson Skies board game won the Origins Awards for "Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game" and "Best Graphic Presentation of a Board Game" of 1998."

And earned many fans:

"While the focus was on fantasy over fact, many of the planes in Crimson Skies were modeled after real experimental aircraft of the era.", "The complex universe of Crimson Skies earned many devoted fans, as dozens of different weapons, planes, nations, air forces, bands of pirates, and characters were all given detailed pasts, and several additional supplemental campaigns were published."

Wikipedia - Crimson Skies:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimson_Skies

So it must have been very good at least. Either way, if you read the games' backstory, you will see that they had a very interesting universe, and the games' characters and events were very good, even though tey were very cheesy - Kind of like Resident Evil or Men in Black cheesiness, but in a very good way.

Still, it's an IP that Microsoft owns and has a lot of rich history and lore available to be explored and expanded upon. Plus, it's a type of genre that's rare these days, specially on consoles. I'm sure many XB1 owners would be happy to be able to play an Arcade Flight game, if it was a very good one.

The first half of 2017 at least, almost all great games were exclusive to PS4, PC and/or Switch. So this is an opportunity to make one of those exclusives Microsoft desperately needs in order to sell more XB1 units.

I'm sure the Scorpio will be great, but if there's no exclusives and you can only afford a PS4/Pro, or already have a PS4 and/or gaming PC, then there's no real reason to buy a XB1 just for a very few number of exclusives. Specially if Scorpio's price point is $500+.

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