This flight sim offers virtual pilots forgiving, arcade-style control over more than 20 World War I-era planes in 20 single-player missions. While the game can be played using a full-featured flight stick, casual gamers can also fly their planes using only a mouse and keyboard. While there's plenty of dog-fighting and all-out assault, players will also be called upon for bombing and recon missions as they make their way through the campaign. Both cooperative and competitive multiplayer games are also supported, for up to 16 pilots on a single map. Several difficulty settings are provided, allowing players of various skill levels to find the right degree of challenge.
It isn't easy flying around in a WWI plane. First of all, they don't go very fast and secondly, they're hard to control, especially when they have two machine guns sitting above the engine. Wings of Honour is a great change of pace from other simulation games, taking on a role far more difficult than any other time period, at the birth of aviation combat.
Unfortunately, there isn't much depth to Wings of Honour, with a background story that is straightforward. You jump into combat as a British pilot (others are available as you work your way through the game) pitted against the Germans with a variety of primary and secondary missions. One mission, for example, requires you to navigate through a series of checkpoints while simultaneously fighting off German planes. Those who are looking for a challenge should be satisfied with the non-linear gameplay.
The graphics of Wings of Honour do not displease those who care for detailed planes, but others that care for surroundings might feel abandoned. The planes look wonderful and rich in detail, but the objects on the ground seem two-dimensional. The trees stick out of the ground awkwardly, and ground units are impossible to make out, even from a close distance. The cities and buildings don't look quite as bad, but then again, they don't look good either. City had the good sense to make a world that is alive, but the execution is poor. But when you're dogfighting you're treated to fragments of planes and fluid destruction with lots of splinters and clouds of black smoke appearing from different sections. (When looking for the easiest plane to down, noticing which ones have the most damage is simple and clear.)
The rustic sound effects of the WWI planes sound authentic, matching the amount of detail of the planes themselves. Not to state the obvious, there weren't highways of cars or sounds of bustling cities in the 1910s, let alone during a devastating war. Taking that into consideration it's easy to see why the levels are so quiet (until a dogfight). The voice-acting is authentically British and details mission objectives.
Flight simulation games tend to be complex but you don't have to be a "gear head" to get your plane off the ground, for the flying controls are relatively easy in Wings of Honour. The stocky bi-planes were the first planes used in warfare, and being the first, they weren't built with perfect control and handling. With that in mind, the early missions might be frustrating to finish, due to the wobbliness of the plane handling. However, progressing through the game opens the option of selecting new planes, most better than the one before. Newer planes will have faster speed, better agility, or more firepower. (Hint: the fastest or strongest plane might not always be the best for every mission. First run through a mission a few times and find the plane suited best for the situation.)
What would a war game be without guns? Probably not a very good one (unless you're a Quaker). Even though these aviators are pasted together by cheap glue and wooden sticks, they still pack a heavy punch. Each plane goes with three standard types of weaponry: machine guns (can be fired in the 1st or 3rd person), bombs, and rockets. Usually the dog fights require rapid machine gun firing, but in order to take out ground units, you must utilize the bombs and rockets. Rockets are not much different than bombs, the only difference being that they propel in a forward direction, whereas a bomb drops directly to the ground.
Before I started playing Wings of Honour, my interest in flight simulation games was very minimal. Sadly, my interest is at the same level. For the flight gamer that needs to fly, Lucasarts' Secret Weapons over Normandy might be a better choice for furious air combat. Wings of Honour is a budget title that has great flight elements and action for its humble price. Credit has to be given to City Interactive for venturing into an era that is most commonly avoided and creating a game that will please historians.
People who downloaded Wings of Honour have also downloaded:
Wings of War, World War II: Sniper - Call to Victory, Secret Weapons Over Normandy, Wings of Fury Remake, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, ÜberSoldier, WWII: Iwo Jima, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (CD-ROM)
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