Red Barron Arcade Review

By Mike on 9:44 pm

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Why aren't there any World War 1 flight simulators? I guess the slow speed doesn't really intrigue people. Red Barron Arcade is one of the first WWI themed games I've seen in a while. Now get ready for the shortest review ever... it does not belong on Playstation 3. Ok, I'm not going to leave my readers hanging like that. The original Red Barron, released almost 20 years ago, was a classic combat flight simulator. It is widely regarded as one of the best from the genre and one of the best games of all time. Red Barron Arcade, also published by Sierra, will likely not win such acclaim. It was developed by Stainless Games rather than Dynamix who made the original series. The game is also available on PC and was released just over a year ago, and didn't do so well. The first red flag PS3 gamers noticed was the numerous delays the PSN title suffered. Sierra kept pushing it back but gave no official notice as to why, or when it would actually hit the Store front. It was originally supposed to be released on September 18th, 2009 according to an IGN game preview article. However, it wasn't actually released until March 12th, 2009, six months later.

Gameplay is what you would expect from a title like this. Vary basic controls. This is another one of those flight games where the pitch controls are reversed, which really irritates me. Everybody knows that pulling back on the stick in a plane makes you go up. They have pushing forward as up, which is usually down. This can be very confusing, especially to those used to flight simulators that use conventional control schemes. Fortunately, the options menu lets you reverse the X axis on the left stick. Everything else is traditional. R2 is your machine gun trigger. You can also roll for evasive action using R1 and L1 but it seems pretty useless. Square will preform an Immleman, quickly reversing your flight direction. You also have secondary weapons and can perform a speed boost by tapping X. There is a boost meter so it's not umlimited. It recharges on its own. Triangle and Circle are your throttle controls. Power-ups are available that give you additional bombs or restore your health bar. Dogfighting is pretty good. You get the hectic feeling of a WW1 dogfight but the graphics can hamper the enjoyment of it. I'll get to that in a second. I only played the demo but I get the feeling I wouldn't see much more in the full version. There are quite a few to play from. It says there are 20 in total. You can only play as Germany in the demo but I would expect there are 10 planes on each side to choose from. Of course the Fokker DR1 is in there and is playable in the demo. It's also has Albatrosses, other Fokkers, and I noticed Sopwith Triplanes & Airco DH2s during the dogfights on the allied side.

The real problem with the game is the graphics. They're just absolutely horrible. The graphics in Red Barron are outdated by at least eight years. It really does look like a late 90s, early 2000s game. Even PSP games like Ace Combat X have better graphics. Ok, I know it's a downloadable title but take into consideration games like WipEout HD and Flower, which both retail for $9.99, the same price Red Barron Arcade does. They're graphical masterpieces, this is just a horrible pile of thrown together pieces. Polygon count on objects is quite low and textures look cheap. Draw distances are low. I didn't notice any issues with frame rates though. If there were frame rate problems, I think I'd pee my pants out of shock. Red Barron runs at 720p but due to it's graphical flaws, having HD is pretty useless. It's impossible to tell which planes are your allies and which are the enemies until you are right on top of them. Enemies are colour coded in the radar screen as red, while your allies are green. However they picked dark red and dark green, which almost look the same so you have to look hard to tell which is which. The AI is horrible, enemies will often crash into you without you even seeing, and they certainly don't do anything serious to try and avoid getting shot.

Well there you have it. To sum up Red Barron Arcade in two words: it sucks. It's a good concept and had Stainless Games put a little more effort into it, it could have been a classic PSN title. The end product though is just a jumbled mess of poor graphics, poor AI, and uninspiring gameplay. The entire game is only about 180mb in size, which tells a lot. If you're looking for a console arcade sim, I'd suggest picking up the Ace Combat games for the PS2 (avoid HAWX because it sucks too) or wait for Il-2: Birds of Prey to come out later this year. Red Barron Arcade is not worth the $9.99 they're charging for it.

What Works:
-Easy to pick up gameplay
-20 aircraft to choose from

What Doesn't Work
-Horribly outdated graphics
-Dumb AI
-Flight pitch controls reversed
-Overly simplistic at times
-Should have been a PSP title instead

Score: 4 out of 10

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