Freedom Wings: Bizarre flight Sim/RPG hybrid for DS

This one “flew in under the radar” (HAHA). I was just browsing through EB’s recently released games, and saw this one. I did a little research, and the hybrid flight combat sim/RPG thing sounded really cool.

I got home and have been playing it for about 3 hours now. It’s a really strange game. Imagine a mix of Diablo, Ace Combat and um Autoduel/Car Battler Joe. You start out with a crappy plane on an airfield. You take off, and start blowing other planes out of the sky to earn XP and money. You then land, spend money on parts and upgrades, then take off again.

The world is this huge archipelago, with various towns and airfields spread out amongst the islands. You can fly anywhere you want, but you’ll get your butt shot off if you fly into the harder areas too quick. One of the annoying aspects of the game is that there is no time compression, so in your initial plane you’re really putzing along. It makes getting a faster plane feel like you’ve really got an upgrade.

Now, the controls. It’s very odd. There are two ways of controlling the plane : Auto and Manual.

In Auto mode, you set what altitude you want the plane to fly at, how much throttle you want, then tap on the map in the direction you want to fly. If an enemy comes into range, you can lock onto it and the autopilot will fly you directly towards it. You then can make slight adjustments to your orientation using the Dpad and the shoulder buttons, and attack the incoming plane. The game will also just autoattack it with it’s “best guess” if you don’t input anything.

In Manual mode, it flies exactly like a flight sim. Dpad is pitch and roll, and the shoulder buttons are rudder yaw. It’s pretty damn difficult to fly in this mode, because you don’t have analog control over any of the flight surfaces. However, this mode allows you to dodge and jink out of the way of incoming fire, or make a beeline back to the base to try to land when you’re outnumbered. I find using the auto lock to kill easier targets, and for the higher level targets I use manual to get into position, then switch to auto to line up my shots.

The game has a flawed manual flight mechanic, but overall I’m finding it extremely fun. The upgrade path for your plane is pretty cool: you can upgrade your general stats of power, armor, weight and manueverability, as well as buy custom parts to outfit on your plane such as different armor types, different weapons, engine turbos, etc. You’re always getting slight upgrades to your rig, just like in diablo… which keeps you wanting to play.