September 8, 2008 // 3:00 pm
- Many of you wisely noted in our debut trailer for the upcoming PSN game Red Baron Arcade that it looks fun, in spite of its antiquated graphics. After playing a few missions from the downloadable title, I'd have to agree with that assessment.
Red Baron Arcade is true to its namesake: it provides a very arcade aerial combat game, one which is easy to pick up and play. The simplistic nature of the gameplay is part of its appeal, but also limits the depth one may come to expect from a genre like this.
Planes are incredible maneuverable, able to turn at a moment's notice. Obviously, these planes aren't meant to handle like their real-world equivalents. Various evasive tactics, like U-turns and barrel rolls, are done easily with a single press of a button. While this makes it very easy to jump into the game, it also makes everything feel completely unnatural.
While the controls are far from realistic, they do get the job done during the massive dogfights featured in the game. Even the first missions had dozens of enemies to shoot down. Your opponents will go down rather easily, allowing you to dominate the skies. Various power-ups and collectibles are scattered throughout each level, making it easy to restore your health, energy and bombs.
Anyone that has played an arcade shooter like this knows exactly what to expect out of the missions. You may simply need to take out the requisite number of enemies, or you may need to guard certain points on a map. Later missions promise to get a bit more complicated and challenging, as you need to take out ground troops with your bombs. There are hidden collectibles scattered throughout each level, which encourages players to explore the maps.
While Red Baron Arcade offers the rudimentary fun expected out of a genre like this, we can't ignore the incredibly low production values of the game. When someone glanced myself playing the game, they thought I was playing a Dreamcast game -- and for good reason. Everything about this game screams last generation. However, in spite of the low-tech look, the build we played still couldn't manage a solid framerate, especially when using bombs.
It's also disappointing to note that a few key features are missing. For example, while there is online multiplayer, there is no split-screen multiplayer. This would've been an excellent addition to a game that doesn't appear to be drawing any of the PS3's power. There's also no XMB Trophy support, in spite of the game's built-in medals system. Perhaps a vocal enough outcry from the community will get that patched in, because the various achievements are rather well thought out.
So yes, Red Baron Arcade is fun. In fact, I plan on playing the game to completion. However, it's hard to ignore such low-tech production values, especially when PSN users have been so accustomed to absolutely gorgeous downloadable games as of late. But hey -- at least it's a lot more fun than Lair. Expect to see Red Baron Arcade on the PLAYSTATION Store later this month.