Combat Wings: Great Battles of WWII Preview

There’s something undeniably exciting about the now-gone days of aerial dog-fighting–a time when skilled pilots attempted daring flight maneuvers, desperately trying to line up that crucial shot. Combat Wings: Great Battles of WWII looks to recreate some of that action, and judging from our exclusive preview, doesn’t fall short of the mark. GameZone recently had a chance to sit down with Jakub Majewski, creative director for City Interactive, who showed off the upcoming multi-platform title.

“From what we’ve seen, there’s not too many other air combat games that get it quite right. You often end up shooting at little dots on the screen,” Majewski explains, going on to cite one of his biggest influences. “Personally I’m a huge Wing Commander fan, (that series is) very good at getting the player right into the action. Unfortunately, some other members of the team are too young to have played Wing Commander!” Despite whether his youthful team has spent time with the PC classic or not, it’s obvious that Majewski has had the final say, as the action in Combat Wings is intense. You’ll often find yourself within spitting distance of enemy aircraft, using a combination of machine gun fire and special weapons to take them down. Luckily, the game strays away from the kind of in-depth mechanics you’d expect from a full flight simulator.

“We don’t want the player to have to have a degree in aeronautics just to get off the ground,” Majewski explains, expanding on the game’s desire to be authentic to the WWII period, while still being a video game at the core. The actual gameplay strays away from hard realism, with players’ aircraft being able to slowly regenerate some health during levels, all while building up a kill record which would put even the greatest WWII aces to shame. Majewski explains that suspending your disbelief makes for a much better game over all. “Most pilots in WWII, when they took damage, would just fly home. Most pilots actually ended the war with just two or three kills. We want the game to feel authentic, but at the same time it’s a video game, and it needs to be fun.” He likens Combat Wings to City Interactive’s previous title, ‘Sniper: Ghost Warrior.’ “Our team did research and found that a realistic game about snipers would involve sitting in the bush for three days; using a little plastic bag as your toilet; taking a single shot and if you miss, it’s all wasted! Not the kind of experience you want in a video game.”

What’s really interesting, though, is how much detail has been packed into the game. Various battlefields are lovingly rendered, with the sneak peek we got at an unfinished build of old London especially notable. There’s also fifty planes for players to choose from; there’s even obscure Italian and Romanian aircraft. Then there’s the meat of the game, with over thirty missions, spread across four different campaigns. I was especially happy to note that the game’s storyline has been penned by Majewski himself, and the drama playing out between the voice-acted pilots was actually pretty interesting.

Finally, the game is multi-platform; Playstation 3 owners get perhaps the best version of the game, one featuring Move-compatible controls. Though the feature wasn’t completely implemented, even just a taste made it obvious just how perfectly air combat lends itself to this style of control, allowing for very precise maneuvering, as opposed to a standard thumb-stick.

In short, the boys from Poland seem to know what they’re doing, and Combat Wings stands to be one of the best air combat games we’ve seen in awhile. Definitely keep an eye out for it November 15th, on PS3, PC, Wii, and Xbox 360.