Malcolm Owen On March 13, 2004 at 7:52 am

Dogfighting has always been a sub-genre of the great Flight Sim. Soaring in the air, you take on other aircraft, trying not to get shot down in the ensuing fire fight. Sure, you’re meant to take on opponents in the air, but it doesn’t help when your top speed is only slightly faster than a Segway going uphill.

Echelon Wind Warriors is a "By the Numbers" flight sim fighting game. It has all the usual things you find in the genre, such as take-offs and landings, flying, things to shoot and things to fly around, and even an attempt at a storyline that is just there to give the player something to do, except that as a game it plays really slowly. The missions you play are pretty similar to one another with not as much variety as you would expect to see in such a title, relying heavily on the formula of "Destroy everything" holding true.
Hovering around in a futuristic flying machine whilst shooting at stuff, you have the feeling that somehow you are piloting a Zimmer frame into combat. The end result is that you spend tremendous amounts of time waiting to get somewhere, and when you do see something to shoot at you have little option but to shoot from a distance. This leaves very little in the way of opportunity for you to take someone on up close and personal. Dogfighting is possible, although this is a painful procedure of very long turns using a turning circle the Titanic would be ashamed of in terms of size. Some neat maneuvers can be done despite the slight problems, as turning is far easier when you are not moving than when you are, but most of the time it’s best to move than be a sitting duck.

As well as the normal joystick controls you usually get, there’s also an option for mouse-control, which has to be one of the most painfully inadequate control systems created. It takes a while of getting used to, but even after being pretty fluent in the system, it is still a really hard method of control and shouldn’t really have been implemented the way it has. If it were set up in a similar way to mouse-look that is the standard of many First Person Shooters, then it would have been forgivable, but in this case it’s best left alone.
Gliding around (You can’t really call this flying, it’s too slow) the areas, you can’t help but look at the landscape around and below your ship. It looks fairly good, but you will soon get bored with it. Nothing particularly stands out in terms of graphical brilliance at all, although the landscapes themselves are sometimes breathtaking to a point that you wonder why it wasn’t on a postcard. Once the novelty wears off though, the longing for things to shoot becomes greater, and you get stuck in the same rut of wishing you could play some solitaire on your PDA whilst you wait for the next objective to be reached. It really is a shame that it looks a lot better than it plays.

It is worrying when you see cheats that are available from the start, without any need to enter any secret codes or hold down a combination of keys to make it all work. It’s even more worrying when these cheats include such luxuries of invulnerability, or the possibility of flying around without having to let go of the fire button. Including them allows the player to complete the game with no challenge at all, acting like a janitor through the levels. They’re all available from the options menu, and this will probably bore the heck out of anyone who believes they can’t play the game without these aids.

Echelon Wind Warriors is nothing new, and could possibly bore someone to sleep at times, especially if that someone sweeps through the levels without suffering damage at all. The control of the crafts are slightly unwieldy, and the lack of variety in the missions only makes the bored person more sleepy whilst the mesmerising scenery hypnotises them further into a deeper sleep.


Pretty slow for a combat flight-sim


Sweeping Landscapes with only minor problems


It could have been done better


Echelon Wind Warriors is a sequel to the original “Echelon”. If you played the original and loved it, then get this for more of the same.

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