A close friend and distant cousin shared my obsession with World War II airplanes growing up, but he took it a step further. He bought a joystick and a book on dog fighting moves. I just spent my time reading about the majestic P-38 and the deadly Stuka while he actually flew the things in online combat. He eventually progressed to Ace Combat but for a while he played a game that featured vehicles of World War II in addition to planes. The name escapes me but it was sort of a plane and automobile-centric Battlefield 1942. The vehicles weren’t particularly useful though because they were too far from the rival bases.
I didn’t actually own the game but I enjoyed it a great deal when I visited. I wasn’t much good at it but it had its appeal. That era of aviation was the golden age of the dogfight. World War I combat was slow and full of non-combat perils and with the introduction of the jet engine and locking missile the combatants are miles away from each other and the whole thing is over in minutes. There are no graceful swoops and dives.
When I saw DogFighter on the cheap from Steam I had to grab it. The game is a stripped down version of a hardcore air combat game with a few of Bizarre Games’ Blur elements thrown in. Instead of just flying around in realistic games simulating actual battles that took place 60 years ago you buzz around in caricatures of planes getting pick ups and completing tasks more at home in FPS like Call of Duty.
It really destroys my attempt to honor my grandfather’s service as an airplane mechanic in the Pacific, but it’s a great way to unwind after a long day. The controls are ridiculously intuitive and the game works surprisingly well with a mouse. Much better than X-wing. Before my buddy gave me his joystick I used to flail my arm like a mad man trying to do barrel rolls in a B-wing.
But with DogFighter I can come home from work, sit down, and start slaughtering third graders as they get off the bus. I do really well for about 45 minutes then the adults beat the rush hour traffic and suddenly I fall down to Top Dog instead of Omnipotent Dealer of Death. I mentioned this in my XBLA review of RC-Air Sim, I find soaring through the air very relaxing. If I happen to be gunning down a few planes while I’m at it all the better. And for $9.99 who am I to say no?