Wings (Second Review)

Title           Wings (Second Review)
Game Type       General Action
Players		1
Compatibility	All Amigas (With WHDload Patch)
HD Installable  Yes (With Patch)
Company	        Cinemaware/Mirrorsoft
Submission      Seppo Typpö ( Profiled Reviewer

Of all the efforts to produce an interactive movie on the Amiga,
Cinemaware came closest to finding the 'holy grail'. Games like "Rocket
Ranger" and "It Came From The Desert" mixed arcade action and movie-like
sequences with considerable excellence but it was their final Amiga game
"Wings" where all the pieces of the perfect formula finally found their

Wings puts the player into the hotseat of a World War I fighter plane. The
main goal of the game is to play through the massive campaign (over 230
missions) and survive the war, preferably with as many decorations and
promotions as possible. The missions are loosely linked to your war diary
which details the people in the player's squadron and the happenings of
the war. The presentation is top notch (this is a Cinemaware game after
all) so both graphics and sound are first rate, and special mention goes
to the absolutely fabulous soundtrack this game possesses.

Missions are divided into three categories - dogfight, strafing and
bombing. The latter two are quite simple 2D games more akin to a shoot'em
up than a flight sim - still, they offer some enjoyment between the
dogfight missions, which are undoubtedly the 'real meat' of the game. In
these missions the player sits in the cockpit of the fighter (or 'scout')
with a unique 'backseat viewpoint' (more about this later). Real flight
physics are called into the game, which means the player has to worry about
things like losing airspeed (and altitude) in tight turns, stalling and
so on. While not being completely heavyweight stuff, the flight model can
hold its own when compared to those found in rival Amiga WW1 flight sims
like Red Baron (Dynamix) and Knights of The Sky (MicroProse).

So, surviving the war is the name of the game and it is not an easy task.
One cannot die on strafing nor bombing missions, but on dogfight
missions everything is possible. Crashing after a mid-air collision is
probably the most common reason for an untimely exit from this world, but
there are also the enemy pilots to worry about. Wings features massive
dogfights where over a dozen aircrafts can engage in the same battle.
There is one particularly blood-stopping mission which starts with a view
of enemy planes filling the whole horizon - the next moment the sky was
filled with bullets and smoking aircraft, and death was everywhere.
Surviving such a skirmish took not only skill but also luck, and in most
cases, luck had left town..

As mentioned earlier, the player's viewpoint in dogfights is from the
backseat - just behind the pilot's head. This unique feature is actually
useful in many ways - the way the pilot's head follows the closest enemy
acts as a sort of radar which means a player can use it to find the enemy.
It also works as a warning signal - if you follow an enemy plane and
notice the head suddenly turning you know there is another enemy plane
closing on you - and you have the chance to take the necessary action to
evade (or attack) the new threat. In big dogfights with several enemy
planes this feature is invaluable - it is quite easy to lock your
attention on one enemy plane for too long a time only to be roasted by
another one that has sneaked on to your six while you were busy wasting
your 'primary'target.

With the campaign and its missions Wings offer little new over the other
WW1 flight sims - what makes it unique is rhe cinematic feeling offered by
the war diary. Player actually gets to know pretty much everyone on his
(her) squadron - the commanding officer, cook, priest, pilots, even the
squadron pet. During the war various things happens to these people and
animals, tying the player emotionally to those characters near him. The
war diary contains many twists and surprises, some happy some sad, to keep
player on his (her) toes.

There are several things which make Wings a classic (and one of the best
Amiga games ever) but one of the finest things I found about Wings is
how it can cunningly play with the player's feelings. When starting the
career as a WW1 pilot, I was quite saddened to see how the other more
experienced pilots snatched the easy victories from me. But as time in
the game moved on, my emotions changed - if you are attacked by a dozen
enemy planes you suddenly appreciated every wingmen you had, and I really
began to mourn the loss of experienced fellow pilots. By the end of the
war, I noticed that it was I who not only snatched the victories from
greenhorns, but also acted as 'mother hen' to these inexperienced
youngsters. The final mission and the final confrontation made me feel
quite sad, really only because I knew my flying days were over.

Wings is one of those few games which you feel compelled to play again
even after completing it. It offers a perfect mix of arcade action, flight
simulation and movie-like presentation - and all this on two floppy disks.
One can only imagine what an extended CDROM version of the game would be
like but even in its current form it offers some of the greatest drama on
the Amiga theatre near you.

Category list.

Alphabetical list.