If you're looking for a decent pick-up-and-play flying game, AirForce Delta Strike may be what you're after. The controls and gameplay are definitely arcade influenced so you won't have your face buried in a manual for the best part of a week. If you're looking for something along the lines of a sim with some deep and challenging missions you're advised to continue your search elsewhere.

Set in the not-so-distant future, the story centers around a squadron known as The Blue Wing Knights which is a branch of the Earth Defense Allied Force. Poised against an alien threat, the Blue Wing Knights is the only force capable of stopping the attack. The squadron is composed of a mix of different fighter pilots with unique skills which allows them to collectively pilot more than 130 aircraft.

Throughout the game you will be changing characters and crafts that better suit each upcoming mission. Unlike an RPG, the characters don't gain experience, so you'll have to use characters in the game that already possess the skills to pilot the crafts that you want to use. There are more than 130 different aircraft that range from WWII to futuristic prototypes. Weapons include the standard machine guns and missiles but since there are aliens involved you have to expect a few futuristic laser-style weapons.

With so many aircraft to operate it's a good thing this isn't a sim because it could take you years to learn how to operate all of them. While each plane exhibits different flight characteristics, you don't have to learn a completely new control system for each one. The controls are relatively easy to learn. Once you get the hang of a few planes you'll be able to adapt to all of them in short order. The instruction manual is extremely helpful in that regard.

Once the skill of flight has been acquired, you're bound to find that the missions lack depth and variation. Slowly the game degenerates into a make-work project. Try as the story might, it just fails to cover up the fact that after 10 missions there's just nothing more of any interest to do. Unfortunately there are 60 missions in all. If you're not engaged in recon, then you'll be taking out targets on the ground or other aircraft in the air. The latter is arguably the most fun because it's more engaging than just dodging anti-aircraft fire from the ground. It's too bad this game didn't feature online play or at least a two-play mode for dogfights. I can't see too many gamers even wanting to complete all of the missions.

From the nosecones to the tip of the rudders, the aircrafts look brilliant. There are some inherent alaising problems but overall the attention to detail is virtually unmatched in any flying game. The environments are less detailed and can appear, at times, blocky and blurry. I don't have any complaints about the sound. With Pro Logic II the explosions and machinegun bullets envelop you in an aural onslaught. The sounds are loud and very realistic. Tunes have been specially composed for this game resulting in a blend of Top Gun and anime-inspired pop that is not as annoying as you might think.

Very few gamers will finish this game - by choice. Ultimately as fun as it is for a while it soon becomes apparent that the good times are short lived. It's a shallow arcade experience that doesn't venture beyond its restricted airspace.

System: PS2
Dev: Konami
Pub: Konami
Released: Feb 2004
Players: 1
Review by Al