Aces of Luftwaffe Squadron
For those of you who follow not only our website but our YouTube channel, you know that we are big fans of top down shooters. Personally, when I can locate an arcade I tend to look for cabinets that have a multigame set up because it’s there where I can usually find some old school shooters.
I’m lucky enough to be on press lists that show upcoming games, and it was a big surprise to see this as an upcoming game coming to Xbox One. Not only do I enjoy top down shooters but throw in the ability to gather achievements and you have my full attention.
I was lucky enough to be given a review code and I spent a good amount of time this past weekend enjoying Aces of Luftwaffe Squadron on my Xbox One X and honestly, I have little to no negativity towards it.
As much as I would love to tell you there’s an extremely deep story, there really isn’t and honestly there doesn’t need to be. The game moves along just fine knowing that there is a major enemy to beat and each of the 5 levels you visit has an end boss. You have the choice to pick 1 of 4 available pilots to lead through the 5 levels, each with their own abilities and strengths. Yes, I did leave out weaknesses out on purpose, because that’s complete up to you because it’s all based on what kind of plane they pilot. The four pilots break down to a tank, healer and 2 DPS’, but that’s mostly back ended stuff because a lot of the abilities they have are done automatically. I ended up choosing what would be considered a DPS, which is odd because that’s what I usually pick when I play a game that has those roles available.
The gameplay is extremely user friendly and using the thumbstick to move is extremely smooth. There’s a fire button, a major attack button that has a cooldown and later on you have the ability to switch that major attack out for other abilities. As I mentioned above the game has 5 levels with stages in each level and by ended by a big boss. Each level has medals you can collect for defeating enemies, a side mission objective and a hidden coin. The medals you collect from shooting enemies and the ones you get for doing the side mission counts towards leveling up your squadron. For every squadron level you move up you get an ability point, and if you find the hidden coin in each level that’s an automatic free ability point. You can use the ability points as you please to upgrade the pilot you choose or any of the other pilots. I personally went through the base 1 point upgrades for my pilot, then I focused on the healer and building her stats.
It may take a 2+ points to get an ability you want, but that’s ok because you can spam levels and gain medals quicker. I found that the level 2 boss could be beaten in under 30 seconds so I replayed that level for literally hours, because for every two times you beat that level you would get an ability point to use. That is one of the many great things about this game, the ability to grind on a level and have the payout help you make the later levels less difficult. I’d also like to make it known that you get a fresh set of lives per level so you don’t have to worry about making your lives last throughout the level. The game literally wants you to have as much fun as possible and through the difficulty of levels and bosses, it hands you options to make you feel better about having to replay the same stages over and over again.
The levels you encounter get progressively more difficult, and that can traced back to the enemies in each stage you visit. There are those planes that take only 2 hits to take down, to mini boss style enemies with odd flight patterns who are bullet sponges. It may sounds like a downer, but like I mentioned this game gives you a lot of options. Throughout each stage supply crate are dropped that give you the ability to power up your guns from bullets to lasers that decimate all the enemies. The bosses are a different story and they really make you go back and grind to level up your abilities, because if you go into a boss fight with low abilities you’re not going to last long. Patterns are key when trying to defeat end level bosses and it may take you a few tries to find the pattern out, but when you realize it you’ll really feel good about yourself. Not only will you get a good amount of medals for defeating bosses, but you also get blue prints for additional planes to be added to your arsenal. The planes do vary from normal to rare with color coding like other games do with their armor. Once you have your abilities up you can change the difficulty and replay bosses to make sure you get all the blueprints.
The main issue I have with this game is the lack of online co-op. The game does allow up to 4 player couch co-op, but the ability to jump online and join a party is something that I believe this game and any other game like it should have. In game you can choose which plane your friends use and even have them all fly the same one, so there shouldn’t be an issue if we all have the same plane and fly together online. Along with that online play you could have a leaderboard with a kill counter or a damage number showing how much carnage you’ve done. People do love leaderboards and people who love to show off how good they are would be itching to improve their scores. Lastly there could be literal squad goals where you have a squad and play against another squad to see who can defeat a boss or get more in a time attack.
I will gladly give this game a 4 out of 5, with the lack of online play not allowing it to be perfect. The game is beautiful, has a great soundtrack, replay ability, attainable goals and abilities and with grinding this game is easily worth the $14.99 price point. I say check it out and hopefully in the sequel they have online play.