Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Review: Red Baron Arcade

Sometimes the game market seems so choked with multi-year-in-development multimillion dollar budget ubergames that so often fall tragically short of expectations that it's often surprising when a budget title actually brings more fun to the table than many a "real" game.

Make no mistake, Red Baron Arcade definitely is a budget game. At this very moment it is on Amazon for a mere $19.99, and it definitely doesn't have the depth or extras of your average full-price game, but sometimes the extra crap gets in the way of making a game fun... and naked of cut scenes, voices, complex mission structure and other high dollar features, it shows that a game can be fun even if the developers didn't mortgage a nation to make it.

Red Baron Arcade seems to me to be an attempt to take one of the first arcade games ever, Red Baron by Atari, and update it 25 years later. The original was a green and black 4 frame-per-second vector graphic wireframe flier... sometimes I still play it today just to feel the retro coursing through my veins.

In keeping with the quick entrance, immediate action and simplistic design of the original Red Baron, Red Baron Arcade also features lots of shooting and jinking and even some bombing and such. The game is very straightforward and looks pretty nice, although where the game really shines is in cloud rendering... it makes the ground and the structures on it seem a little cartoony in comparison. A better way to keep track of enemies on screen would have been nice too (the targeting brackets around enemy planes blends too easily into the ground), but it's a small gripe.

The game features 23 single player missions as well as online multiplayer through gamespy. It also allows you to set the controls to be either "arcade" or "simulation." The stick behaves more realistically under simulation mode, whereas arcade mode is mostly just point-and-shoot without having to worry about the actual methodry involved in flying a plane. This choice allows the game to appeal to both the casual gamer and the flight sim enthusiast who might want a slightly more realistic experience. But beyond that, there isn't much realism to be found here. Enemy planes often appear out of thin air to join the battle, and of course what biplane or triplane could carry so many darn bombs? There's also an "energy" bar that refills over time that you can use to perform special maneuvers such as a turbo boost, and what my father (who is actually a pilot) refers to as an "Immelman," that is, basically half a loop-de-loop with a twist that makes you nearly instantly change direction. Also, the "powerup balloons" that can instantly repair or rearm you aren't exactly historically accurate.

But who cares!

The point is, you start the game, you start shooting, and you enjoy shooting down planes in fire and smoke. Some of the single player missions can get a little hairy though, pitting you against 20 or more enemy planes (and sometimes alone against them). The zeppelin busting missions and the bombing missions are fun as well. The game also provides 8 different planes to unlock and use, each with different stats, and you can customize the paint scheme of your planes (nice to have a little fluff even in a $20 game). You'll get shot down a lot in this game, but a single click starts the mission again, and it's rare that a mission will last more than 20 minutes anyway so it isn't overly punishing.

Oh, and you're gonna need a joystick for this game. Really. You really would be missing out otherwise.

The Verdict: Grade B+. Ok, it's not the game of the century, but it's 20 bucks and short, casual fun.


Anonymous said...

This is my favorite game and I have had the "victory" in all 23 missions. It is also fun to collect the 20 merit "collectable" patches, some for bombing, some for shooting down a special ace. BUT, I cannot find or get the collectable for Mission 19 although I have tried at least 50 times. It also seems that this mission (Guard Our Zeppelin) can only be won by using Realistic Controls as then enemy planes come a bit less frequently. Can anyone help with the collectable of Mission 19? ~ Gary

Online Casinos said...

my brother's really gonna love this game. he likes playing mission games like this. are there any suggestions where we could download this for free?