Aeronautica Imperialis has been a very popular tabletop board game spawning from the world of Warhammer 40000. So it comes as no surprise that this game has been converted into a very competent turn-based strategy game. Aeronautica Imperialis Flight Command, made by Games Workshop, stays true to the source material in every way it can as it aims to showcase the battle between the two most brutal warring factions in the Universe — the Imperium of Man and the population of Orks.
The Sky is Your Battleground to Conquer
This game plays similar to the likes of the Xcom series in that it is an RTS title. However, Aeronautica Imperialis Flight Command does a number of unique things to set it apart from this crowd, one of which being the WEGO system. This accommodates both sides of the war to simultaneously plan and engage in battle. Plus the gameplay is paced faster than a lot of RTS games, with engagements for each plane being only a few seconds. Yet, these seconds can turn the tide in an intense dogfight.
The tactical gameplay considerations are also excellent. The game asks questions of the player constantly. Things like, if it’s best to be defensive and conserve ammo, or go all out in an attack. Whether to go for some evasive manoeuvres, what planes will deliver the most damage due to their varied weapons, what planes are the best movers and can cut through enemy lines, etc. and etc.. All these considerations weigh heavily on the player as they try to conquer the skies.
In terms of presentation, this title isn’t going to blow away players, especially hardcore gamers exposed to other highly-rendered AAA titles in the market. Casual players, on the other hand, come to the game with limited knowledge of the franchise, and might view this game with a less biased opinion. The graphics are perhaps at the top end of what the last generation of gaming had to offer. This is by no means a deal-breaker. The game still looks passable and runs smooth. Plus the designs and plane models are identical to their tabletop counterparts, which will please long-time fans.
The surrounding areas and ground units drag the aesthetic of planes and battle animations down, however. Textures are rough at the best of times and often, ground units clip off the field. It’s something that ruins the immersion that the battles in the sky do rather well.
Musical scores and sounds also do little to rescue the situation. They are passable and the score fades into the background. It adds no vibe to the battle nor tension in the planning segments. It simply exists and only serves to highlight the clear focus that was placed on the fighting and RTS mechanics above all else.
Phoning it in
The campaign will anger a few long-time fans in its presentation. The missions on offer are procedurally generated, offer little to no motivation or unique story. Plus you only get to play the imperial side for the first playthrough. Admittedly, it does allow you to return to the action after you finish the short three-hour campaign, giving you the option to play the Ork campaign, which is appreciated.
All these feel like just an afterthought. It seems the developers threw everything at the gameplay mechanics and had little resources left to build a competent game around it. You will get out what you put into the campaign. If you love the world and can make your own narrative for each battle, then you might enjoy it.
Overall, Aeronautica Imperialis Flight Command is far from a bad game. The gameplay is a real highlight and those that enjoy RTS games will really enjoy the competent system the developers have built. It’s the lack of infrastructure built around this aspect that will drive new players and fans away.
For long-time Warhammer fans, this game will be worth every penny and we wager they will overlook the issues. It’s a flawed title for sure, but it has its saving graces.
Overall score: 6/10
- True to the Warhammer series
- Component plane models
- Fun gameplay
- Undeveloped campaign
- Average sound and score
- Harsh and unpolished environments
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