I'm on an indie game roll. This timeI'll be reviewing another flight game called Dogfighter, which I gotin the same bundle as Altitude. Instead of 2D sprites or a 2D plane,however, we'll be gaming in full 3D from a first/third person shooter perspective. Does Dogfighter match up to Altitude? We'll see below
As you can guess by its name, Dogfighter is a game about aerial dogfighting, and itreplaces traditional deathmatches with wings instead of feet. You can choose from a variety of game modes, planes, and maps and duke it out with other planes in the skies, in the while upgrading your gear with pickups like air mines and cluster rockets.
Before you begin the game, you have to choose a game mode. The modes of the game arepretty standard. You have your deathmatch, team deathmatch, freeflight, lone wolf (one against all), survival (same?), and CTF. You can also toy with more advanced settings like number of players,difficulty, unlimited boost, insta-gib, turbo mode, and Black Death.I would have preferred more objective based gameplay like in Altitude.
After which, you can choose the maps and the plane. One very positive aspect of the game is the level design, which I'd call creative and brilliant. The levels are well designed, with both open spaces and tight spaces which would make for exciting dogfights. Unfortunately, the rewards for going to particularly harrowing and risky routes are the same as taking the same open ended route, so there's no incentive to visit said areas save for curiosity's sake. In addition, the AI doesn't really make an effort to do that either, so you'll rarely find yourself in any tight spaces. The planes look nice and all, and there are definite gameplay differences among them, but since you're all painted the same color and do the same thing (kill in the air), I don't tend to notice them too much in the game.
There are only six maps available
The maps however are well designed and interesting, each equipped with hidden twists
Looks cool, but there is no way out, and you will crash.
The gameplay depends on the mode, but usually it's pretty simple: pick up as many powerups as you can and kill everything that's not on your team. The game plays as a traditional deathmatch game (Unreal Tournament or Quake 3), except without cover. The game usually offers both offensive weapons like cluster rockets or rail guns, and defensive items like invisibility, healing, or screwing up someone else's controls. The difference between Dogfighter and the traditional deathmatch FPS is that now you're in the air, buzzing past each other trying to kill the enemy without crashing into a wall like an Asian driver. The core gameplay in any case is acceptable and solid without breaking any new barriers.
Asian Driver exhibit A
One gameplay-killing aspect of the game is the imbalance between aiming and maneuvering. When you're aiming, especially from far away, you need the mouse to be less sensitive; the target is going to move, and you need to snipe them. However, because the game is a game of dogfighting (duh), you're also need to constantly move, so you require high sensitivity settings to bank and re-find targets. In most cases when I was playing, I'd be targeting a plane and laying it on him, and then he'd fly beyond my screen (usually dash right past me),and then I'd have to reposition to find the said target again. But because the settings were set to low, I turned too slowly, and that is frickin annoying. Having high sensitivity means that you'll aim like a drunken frat boy playing a game of darts.
Ha! I've got you now you yellow son of a b!tch!
...God fu-king damn it.
Even the aim mode is horrible, though it's better than the third person mode for aiming
This leads to another problem, which is that of finding and evading enemies in a 3D environment. The game provides a compass and arrow directions that show you where your target went, they can't really give you an idea of true spatial direction; you can be below/above a target and not even know it, it'll just show on your compass that you and your target occupy roughly the same space. Again, this is very annoying.Another problem is evasion. Naturally, when an enemy is chasing after you, you want to do a loop, pop up behind your opponent, twitter your mustache a little and laugh as you blast an enemy down. When I do loops in Dogfighter, I usually end up in front of my enemy again still, or I'm completely disoriented and my opponent has disappeared.In any case, no mustaches are twirled.
Another annoying aspect of the game, in my opinion, is the music. It's heavy rock guitars all the way, and I find it to be distracting during gameplay. In addition, it seems out of place when you consider we're flying around with WWI-WWII era biplanes.
OS: Windows XP (SP2 or more),Windows Vista (SP1 or more), Windows 7
Processor: 2.0Ghz Dual Core
Memory: 1GB System RAM for Win XP, 2GB for Vista/Windows 7
Graphics: 256MB DirectX® 9.0ccompliant supporting Pixel Shader 2.0 or better
DirectX®: 9.0c (latest)
Hard Drive: 600MB or greater
Sound: Direct X 9.0c compliant soundcard
The game will run fluently on most modern gaming systems. If not, tweaking the settings will probably help significantly.
A demo is available on Steam.
I haven't noticed any particular bugs in general. One extremely annoying aspect of the game is how the menu and game mouse sensitivities seem to be out of whack. When I calibrate the mouse for in-game use, the menu scroll speed is incredibly slow. Otherwise, no bugs to speak of.
In terms of value,I purchased this game as a bundle with Altitude, so it's 5 games for$5, which is a steal. The game's fine for $1 purchase, but there are only five levels and the game modes are pretty pedestrian. A case can be made that, because the levels are done so well, that it's efficient like Team Fortress 2, but the gameplay is far too shallowto really support that claim. The game usually retails for $10, but I'd wait for a price drop.
The game also offers no mods.
Dogfighter's strengths are its well designed level, but its weaknesses are its core gameplay mechanics, and no amount of polish can really save it from that weakness. In particular, the sensitivity conflict between aiming and flying and the difficulty in maneuvering in a 3D environment can really hurt gameplay. This really contrasts with the supreme efficiency and grace that Altitude has. The parts that Dogfighter can improve in is the addition of more levels, a more balancing of weapons/defensive items, and more gamemodes. I can see which niche the game will appeal to, but if you're not typhically inclined towards flight games, I'd try the demo before buying the full game.
- Increase the number of maps and gamemodes. The maps are brilliantly designed, but the gamemodes are kinda boring.
- The defensive items need to be improved. Instead of air mines, why not reverse heat-seaking drone mines?
- I don't know how, but the core gameplay mechanics should be modded or a mechanism should me modified so that manuvering and tracking is done better. Maybe a lock-on mechanism for targeting will at least resolve some of the sensitivity issues.
- Power-ups are random, but the ones placed in difficult locations should be better than powerups placed commonly in the open.nWhen doing a loop, the game should zoom out to a long third person view so that you don't lose orientation
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