Set in World War 2, Dogfight 1942 sends you across the two major theatres, the Pacific and Europe gunning down the Germans and the Japanese in period (and not quite period) appropriate air vehicles.
Giving you the option between a simulation and arcade style control system, Dogfight 1942 gives you freedom to play how you want. Not restricting you to one control scheme or the other, allows for anyone to pick the game up and play. I sided with the arcade system which felt more comfortable, though not exactly realistic as flying with the simulation controls felt awkward and less responsive, yet those with more game flying experience may feel more at home. One minor control oddity is an aiming mode used to more effectively take down enemies. It can be exploited to spin the plane around faster than you can by normal means, if you are too close to the ground while using this though, the plane can violently spin around in a manner that will slam you into the floor.
There’s a large selection of planes to choose from by the end of the game, with the most enjoyable being the most unrealistic. Lighting fast jet propelled planes allow you to zip around your opponents without much hassle, or triple gunned planes that shred bogies almost instantly. Visual customisation is available for every plane you acquire but can be limited to one or two colours per plane at the very most and around ten decals to decorate the nose and wings of your flying machine.
The campaign is split into two acts, the first with more straightforward objectives like attack this group of plains, or defend this base. The second act requiring slightly more complex tasks such as escorting, stealth flights below radar or around patrols. A majority of missions lasted between five or ten minutes, with some lasting up to twenty, depending on the amount of retries. I felt as though I was speeding through missions rather quickly, but each level has special objectives and a score rating, urging me to replay some of the more interesting missions to get better outcomes. There is no competitive multiplayer to speak of, however a sizable chunk of the Campaign can be played co-operatively in split screen. Thats right, no online co-op.
While closeup, texture work can be muddy, from a distance Dogfight 1942 looks gorgeous. Lighting especially looks nice with great, strong oranges at dusk and deep dark blues at night. This affects gameplay as well, as zeroes coming at you from the sun are completely obscured by the light blooming. The dreaded “pea soup floor” and “cardboard box buildings” are non existent unlike most flight games. 1942 may not be comparable to flight sims or retail flight games, it does hold up as a nice looking smooth running game, the only thing bringing the visuals down is the screen tearing which happens whenever you turn quickly, so all the time. Sound design is also good, with a moderately decent score, appropriate to the action and voice acting that sounds authentic to the period.
If found myself surprised by Dogfight 1942. I’ve never been one for flying games, but enjoyed messing around in planes when games allowed it. Dogfight has encouraged me to take more interest in the genre at the very least. By the time I finished my playthrough, if found myself replaying specific missions to try to do better or just because they were down right fun. I wish there was more to this title though, as the amount of missions wasn’t enough and some competitive multiplayer would have been appreciated.
The base gameplay is solid, with smooth controls and the odd exciting mission. However the amount of content isn’t large enough to keep you going for more than a couple of hours, though replaying certain missions with another player may extend that time.