September 1, 2002
Iron Aces 2: Birds of Prey - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
17/5/2002THQKadokawa Shoten1GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

Click To Enlarge Image
Very dull backgrounds.
Sigh... It's taken me forever to review this game, but there's a simple reason - Iron Aces 2 is crap. One of the best things about gaming on the PC is the quality of the flight simulations. Games such as Falcon 4.0 are more detailed then the top military simulations from only a couple of years ago. With the power of the Playstation 2 it is somewhat surprising that there hasn't been more flight simulations available. By far the most notable game is Namco's Ace Combat 4: Distant Thunder, although it is very much on the arcade style of gameplay. Iron Ace 2 borders between arcade and simulation and offers a moderate number of missions to complete and planes to unlock.

Click To Enlarge Image
The plane selection screen.
Iron Aces 2 starts off as a WWII combat flight simulation. Since the missile did not exist at that time, pilots were forced to lock into deadly, close-quarters combat. Using tactical manoeuvres, pilots flew within 400m of the enemy and fired with heavy machine guns. As you progress through the game you will travel through the history of combat aviation. The numerous missions are based with conflicts involving land, sea and air campaigns.

One of the best things about this game is the number of missions which totals over 35 and includes around 35 different planes. After starting out with the legendary Spitfire from the British RAF you start to progress to more modern and faster planes including the F-18 Hornet. Iron Aces 2 includes typical gameplay modes but in a neat twist also provides a Free Battle Mode where you can pit a Spitfire against a F-18. It's certainly and interesting experience although it's long term value is somewhat questionable.

Click To Enlarge Image
The prettiest screen I could get.
One of the biggest problems with this game is that despite having over 30 different planes to fly, you start with the slow propeller based early 20th Century models which makes the game painfully sluggish and slow. Those gamers not willing to put in the hours and unlock the faster jet engine craft may soon find themselves quite tired of the whole game, before it starts to even get exciting. Flying in these older planes becomes quite tiresome, as their turning is slow, their response sluggish and the action usually quite dull. Yes, shooting enemies with machine guns requires more accuracy then with a lock-on missile, but you only have a couple of seconds to destroy the enemy before having to perform a painfully slow turn to get them back in your sights.

Click To Enlarge Image
It looks more like a PSOne game.
Graphically, Iron Aces 2 is quite dire, and rarely looks much better then many PSOne games. The ground textures are quite dull with few changes within single levels or buildings, roads or lakes to take not of. Fortunately most of the action takes place at fairly high altitudes so the ground is rarely seen close up. The planes, while looking nice enough, aren't overly detailed while the frame rate is merely average. By far the most impressive part of the game are the menus which look quite nice, but its little consolation when you are expected to pay full price for a game like this.

Click To Enlarge Image
Not what the game looks like!
Sound is yet another area where the game is let down significantly. The music is possibly the highlight with some background jingles that at the very least aren't too obtrusive to the gameplay. The sound effects, even through my high-end speakers, are very weak.

I have to stand by my comments that this game is crap. Unless you are a massive flight sim fan or can find the game in a massively discounted state (say around $AU20) then I can only recommend you leave Iron Aces 2 well alone. If you want a good flight sim then go buy Namco's infinitely better Ace Combat 4: Distant Thunder.

GRAPHICSBland backgrounds, bland action, bland framerate. Get the picture?
SOUNDThis could be one of the games strengths, if it wasn't so totally dull.
GAMEPLAYNowhere near the excitement you would expect from a flight sim.
VALUEThere are quite a few missions, but doubtful that you'll play through it.
OVERALLForget about this game and stick with Namco's excellent Ace Combat 4. That game has good graphics, good sound, better gameplay, more action and is a lot more polished. The only thing that this game has going for it is World War II based planes. Unfortunately that isn't enough to lift this game above a rental at most.