By Steve Wright
Do you love World of Tanks, but long for the freedom that the big, blue skies provide? Are you, like me, absolutely shithouse at take-offs and landings while playing flight simulators? Well then, my friends, World of Warplanes is for you.
By Wargaming, the same brain trust behind World of Tanks, Warplanes takes that same "free-to-win" battle experience and throws it straight up into the air. You don't need to take-off. You don't need to land. Hell, you don't even need a flight stick to steer properly. Like Tanks, World of Warplanes is pretty much driven by your mouse; point somewhere, and go'll fly there. Point at a baddie, and you'll try to blow them away. It's straight-forward to the point where it's almost harmfully simple, but nonetheless it's easy to pick up and fun to try and master.
For those craving flight stick action it is supported, but ultimately will do you more harm than good. As it is when playing any other PC game with a controller, the keyboard and mouse combo always wins; with a flight stick, you're forced to make every twist, bend and turn in a dogfight… compared to those with a mouse who just point. In the end, a flight stick means you'll be destroyed. Get used to that or pick the mouse back up; the choice is yours.
Warplanes currently has two modes: Training and Battle. Both are fairly explanatory. Training will take you through three lessons which prepare you for 15v15 Battles. You can win a Battle by destroying the other team, or gaining superiority over them by bombing all of their buildings. The latter is easier said than done; both teams basically just make a beeline for one another and start shooting.
There are planes aplenty in the game, all belonging to one of three classes: fighters, great for dogfighting, heavy fighters, which are harder to manoeuvre, and attack planes, which should be used on bombing runs. There are over 100 planes to unlock, which each new plane just a bit better than the last. Clearly, Wargaming wants you in for the long haul, unlocking planes to dominate the air. In addition to each class of plane, they're also lumped into one of ten tiers; you'll always be playing against enemies in a similar tier to your own.
Wargaming have termed their games "free-to-win", which mean that you don't need to spend a dime to upgrade your planes to something resembling combat readiness. Currency comes in one of three forms: XP, credits and gold. XP is earned in battle and can be used to research planes and add-ins; credits are also earned through play and can be used for consumables; finally, Gold can be purchased and (thankfully) is used for cosmetic upgrades only.
Spectator mode kicks in when you kick the bucket, and I actually found it to be quite enjoyable and soothing. I know after-kill cams are pretty standard in games, but when you're watching a plane do loop-de-loops, it's not as boring as watching a spy sneak around in vents, executing other people.
There's not a lot to hate about World of Warplanes, but there's not a lot to get in lust over either. Straight-forward objectives plus easy combat and flight mechanics make for a game that largely provides the same experience from match to match. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but just know what you're getting into before you play. It's definitely an above-average affair, but once you scratch the surface, don’t expect much more underneath.[one_half last="no"]...[/one_half]