Welcome to the Airfix Dogfighter Forum!
This online forum and the parent site - the Airfix Dogfighter Multiplayer Arena - http://www.airfixdogfighter.de - are the premier sites in the English language for fans of the classic Paradox Entertainment PC game Airfix Dogfighter from all round the globe!
The game is based on the popular Airfix brand of plastic models. Airfix Dogfighter lets you pilot detailed, miniature versions of World War II aircraft through a large, 3D-rendered house. Fly for the Allies or the Axis powers, each with a home base in a different room of the house. Dogfights take place in the yard or throughout a house full of curios, knick-knacks, canisters, and decorations, many of which can be destroyed and which contain special power-ups.
The Airfix Dogfighter Forum is used to share views and information on all aspects of Airfix Dogfighter (also known as AFD), to exchange technical info on the game, to advertise online dogfights and to discuss similar online games - and much, much more. In order to read and contribute to the forum (other than this Welcome introduction) you will need to register your username, password and other details - see the button at the top of the screen.
The Multiplayer Arena part of the site (see top paragraph for URL) is mainly concerned with what is probably the most rewarding aspect of the game, multiple player action on L. A. N. or the internet, but also has details on some of the more interesting and obscure features of the game, and a screenshot gallery.
This site, originally set up by Matt Fletcher and now hosted by KamikazFu, brings together all available information about Airfix Dogfighter and allows you to find people to play against online, as well as playing the in-game missions. Since a real person uses different and often unpredictable tactics compared with a computer, it makes for a much more challenging and fun game when playing someone else.
Even though there are at present no dedicated servers set up that are used solely for Airfix Dogfighter, and factory support has always been poor, this site gathers together people's IP addresses so that there is a central place for people wanting to play online – see under Multiplayer Games. You can now see if a server on the site is active at any time by looking at the list from the menu choice. Additionally, the Multiplayer Arena has help, hints and access to the Airfix Forum for discussion and a Chat room.
Below are: 3 reviews of Airfix Dogfighter;
[NB I hope to add more info to this Announcement as time permits - if anyone has suggestions for inclusion let me know - A. S.]
This review of the game is from The Adrenaline Vault by: Jonathan Houghton Published: February 10, 2001 (posted 14.10.06)
"When walking into the room of an average young male, one tends to notice that certain predictable items may be found, either due to the interest of the parents or the desires of the child. How many of us have heard the stereotypical story of a father buying baseball bats and catching gloves in the hopes that exposure to these "masculine" items will develop a love of sports in his young son? Conventional sports aside, many males who have grown up in a status quo household had some of the same toys as kids. I remember quite well the first He-Man action figure to grace my toy box. It wasn't the first toy to find its way into that box, nor was it the last. Having had relatives who served in the military during various wars, I also grew up hearing about snipers, tanks, infantry and aircraft. Like many other children, I was also fascinated with aeroplane and automobile models. To this day, I retain several of the models upon which so many restless hours were spent. Airfix, one of Europe's most well-known model manufacturers, has teamed up with the folks at EON Digital and Paradox Entertainment to bring the world of model airplanes home in the form of an action-flight game. Grab the kids and settle in for a gore-free romp through the halls and rooms of a large house in Airfix Dogfighter.
Airfix Dogfighter has a very light-hearted storyline based loosely on the events in World War II. Regardless of the fact that you are blowing things up and shooting down enemy pilots, there is no lasting feel of malice that wells up when you play. The explanation given by EON is that you assume the role of an imaginative youngster who is playing 'pretend' while the family is away from the house. Pretending to be a World War II fighter pilot gives rise to numerous scenarios where the player will take on the roles of either Axis or Allied pilots. Stick and throttle in hand, you will attempt to master control over various model planes as you dodge table legs and end- chairs all while trying to outwit a host of enemy forces.
Riding the World War II theme, there are two campaigns you can fight through: one for the Axis and one for the Allies. Each campaign has ten missions, wherein you will take on the role of both fighter and bomber as you carry out strikes, escorts and base defences. Upon launching the game, you are required to create a pilot profile, using one of several included portraits. Once you choose the portrait that best suits your personality, you are dropped into the actual in-game menu, which takes a cue from older combat sims existing in the form of various objects strewn about the screen, each one representing a different option. To drop quickly into a mission requires only that you select the campaign hangar and choose one of the two major world forces to fight beside. Mission briefings will follow, which include reconnaissance photographs of your targets and objectives. After looking carefully through the briefing, it is time to select your model airplane.
Each side in the war begins the game with one model plane in their arsenal. For the allies, it's a Hawker Hurricane and for the Axis, a Focke Wulf fw190. During certain missions you will be able to discover new blueprints and model kits for more advanced aircraft; each side has between six and seven aircraft available once you complete the game. The allied side will net you such famous fighters as the P-51 Mustang and the Grumman F6F; Axis forces have access to models from Fiat, Messerschmitt and Mitsubishi. All aircraft have different strengths and weaknesses that you will need to take into consideration when selecting a fighter for each mission.
Speed, Control, Fuel and Armour are the four classes of statistics that will be mixed around between the different fighters. Every one is extremely important, since some missions might require you to engage in a slow bombing run over an enemy bunker or airfield, while flak cannons explode shrapnel all around you. In such a case, you would need to choose an aircraft with heavy armour -- normally this would also indicate a slower speed or control rating -- whereas if you were taking on a quick strike to steal supplies, a faster, more manoeuvrable fighter would be the wiser choice beyond a shadow of a doubt. After making an educated guess as to the needs of your fighter in contrast to the mission objectives, it is time to engage the enemy.
Upon entering the world of Airfix Dogfighter, one of the first things you will take notice of is the way in which the world is constructed. Many rooms in the house look as though they were recently transcribed out of a cartoon. The contrast of many colours in the home gives Airfix Dogfighter a stylistic look that is difficult to describe. In some ways, I suppose it reminds me of the CGI rendered in-home scenes of the Toy Story movies. Once you have gawked over the graphics for long enough, it's time to throttle up and take to the skies.
Only a fool would look at the subject matter in Airfix Dogfighter and expect a five-star, FAA approved flight sim on the same realism level of say, X-Plane or Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000. Taking this point into consideration, Airfix Dogfighter uses a flight model more akin to Microsoft's Crimson Skies, where a strong emphasis is placed on action elements rather than trying to maintain an illusion of realism. Still, Airfix Dogfighter has a flight model so forgiving that if you take your throttle down to nil, you can hover in the air for a while before slowly dropping back to the floor. Crashing into walls has a similarly wacky effect, with few fiery deaths ever ensuing from a poorly executed bank. Instead, your craft will have a tendency to bounce off walls, resulting in a loss of speed and a very minor hit to your armour. This game wouldn't have 'dogfighter' in the title if there were any lack of powerful combat encounters, and a wide variety of weaponry has been placed at your disposal.
Nothing about the weapons systems you will be using is conventional in any way shape or form. Then again, nothing about Airfix Dogfighter can truly be considered standard. Your weaponry comes in two forms, primary cannons and secondary weaponry. Your cannons start out with paltry effectiveness and a very limited range -- when your weapons are in range of an enemy, they will lock-on with the target reticule turning red. You can upgrade your cannons by retrieving a common power-up: For the Axis, these take the form of Germany's iron cross while the Allies use a star. For every ten of these power-ups you collect, the technology level on your plane is upgraded. Secondary weapons consist of conventional weapons like rockets, cannons and bombs, with super-weapons entering in as part of the plot giving players the use of atom bombs, particle beams and electricity projectors. Weapons are not the only power-ups to be discovered in the homestead, you may, for example, find yourself in serious need of repairs or refuelling. Both of these exist as separate power-ups that you will need to keep a careful eye open for.
Upon completion of your mission objective and returning to base, you are given a point tally based on the different power-ups you were able to collect and the condition of your plane upon its return. You will normally be awarded medals with silly titles like, "Dad's Medal of Car Insurance," or "The Questionable Medal of Thieving." Any blueprints and model kits you discover will also be added to your arsenal after the debriefing.
Airfix Dogfighter also has two editors designed to allow for some minor customizations. The decal editor lets you tweak the style of your planes by adding custom stickers and changing the camouflage. The house editor, on the other hand, allows you to create custom maps for multiplayer dogfighting, placing various objects throughout the house to create obstacles and good hiding places for power-ups.
Graphics: Airfix Dogfighter has quite suitable visuals for taking place within the confines of a house rather than the vast expanse of sky where most flight titles would take you. Environments are rendered with a quality that brings out the toyish appeal of the gameplay. In other words, don't buy Airfix expecting state-of-the-art hardware accelerated visuals that would blow titles like Crimson Skies out of the water. Everything from expensive Chinaware to odd-looking vases are created to suit the toy-centric atmosphere which pervades this game. Gunshots do not use tracers, which would make manual aiming quite difficult if not for the auto-aim feature automatically enabled at start-up. Though the guns could use a tiny bit of polish, explosions are handled beautifully, with each rocket or bomb-type creating a unique sequence of black, orange and red. Airfix Dogfighter supports both Direct3D and the now defunct Glide API, formerly made by 3dfx; resolutions under Glide are rather limited, with only the standard 640x480, 800x600 and 1024x768 trio being available. Direct3D on the other hand supports resolutions from 640x480 up to 1280x1024. The overall effect of the graphics in Airfix Dogfighter is the whimsical portrayal of mock battles in an environment suitable for the whole family.
Interface: Airfix Dogfighter is designed around simplicity, being that its target audience is somewhat younger than the average gamer. There are few configurable options, with the graphics settings being determined by a dialogue box started before the program actually runs. After choosing your own graphics-adventure, you are dropped into a fantasy world where Airfix model planes come vividly to life. The in-game options menu appears in the form of a construction table where stacks of aviation books and airfield replicas are used as a means of navigation for launching the various portions of Airfix Dogfighter. Titles like Starlancer and the Wing Commander series made this trait famous with the virtual quarters that acted as a nexus from which to play different modes and set various options. This system works quite well, as does the screen layout while in flight. All the tactical data you could want, including a positional radar system, is installed and easy to view with little or no hindrance to the gameplay.
Airfix Dogfighter can hardly be compared to a flight simulator with the mild exception of the fact that the basic aeronautical controls tend to behave similarly. Regardless of whether you prefer keyboard, mouse or joystick, Airfix easily supports almost every configuration out of the box. No force feedback support is included, but the ease with which I was able to use my Logitech Wingman Rumblepad left me with few cares other than dodging crayon missiles.
Gameplay: Though the concept might seem more appropriate for younger gamers in a family environment, Airfix Dogfighter can be a great deal of fun to play, even if you are a seasoned stick jockey -- though being a seasoned stick jockey with kids would be a better incentive. The surreal feeling of the oft-times silly looking house is deceptively entertaining, creating a draw that most hardcore gamers would normally scoff at. Even though the gameplay can be deeply entertaining, there are still a few holes in its fuselage which keep Airfix Dogfighter from receiving a much higher score. The first problem is the brevity of the single player campaigns: Twenty total missions is hardly enough when the first five or so from each side requires less than fifteen minutes each to complete. Once you get down to the last two or three, the difficulty picks up and it might take you one or two hours worth of attempts. Having under 15 hours of gameplay is rarely a good thing, unless you have a huge brand name like Squaresoft to pull it off. The next problem relates to what I would call the 'bouncy' effect. When you fail to make a bank quickly enough and strike the wall, you take a tiny bit of damage, and rebound off in a random direction. Not being forced to worry about death by striking most objects is a nice feature and is probably part of what makes the initial campaign missions so simple. This bouncing effect has an adverse effect on the gameplay when you are forced to fly into an enclosed space to retrieve some vital mission component. You will strike the walls frequently, and get bounced off in one direction or another. With the camera flailing about in every direction trying to decide on a place to settle, pilots are left with the unhappy task of getting their plane out of a very enclosed space with little or no sense of direction.
Multiplayer: The multiplayer in Airfix Dogfighter extends the longevity of this title past the 20-mission campaign. In Airfix, the multiplayer only comes in one flavour: Dogfighting. You can take to the bedroom skies with as many as eight players duking it out simultaneously. Options on multiplayer are rather scarce, though unusual maps populate the available multiplayer areas, including one where the entire downstairs is flooded up to the ceiling level. I encountered virtually no lag while playing over a LAN, though I started to get some very minor frame skips while playing on a 56k modem.
Sound FX: Zooming around a large house full of model war machines, one wouldn't expect an amazing level of ambient noise or thundering Dolby Surround sound; and indeed, the audio effects in Airfix Dogfighter are balanced enough to maintain the feel of the game. The example I feel is the most indicative of the audio quality is the fact that they use engine noises that sound appropriate to tiny model airplanes. Not once will you hear the crashing roar of a 1400 horsepower Rolls-Royce Merlin II turboprop in this title. What you will hear coming from the front of your fuselage is a whirring not unlike that made by a servo controlled kit plane. There is no denying the youthful fantasy-like nature of Airfix Dogfighter in all aspects of its gameplay. The artificial engine noises are also accompanied by a host of explosions, each of which sounds frighteningly real.
Musical Score: Due to the lack of music in Airfix Dogfighter, this category has not been rated (??)
Intelligence & Difficulty: Enemy AI gradually increases as you complete each level. This may have something to do with the fact that the enemy starts flying newer planes almost as soon as you snag your new model kits. In any case, most players will breeze through the first seven levels, encountering only light to moderate resistance and eventually moving up into heavier opposition, where enemy fighters shoot you down quickly with homing missiles or Tesla projectors. One thing I noticed about the enemy AI that either makes no sense, or perfect sense depending on how you view it, is the fact that most enemy planes will cruise past you with guns blazing in tight areas only to bank their planes in vertical climbs or drops against a nearby wall. While crawling along the walls, enemy planes become difficult to see and harder to hit. Whether this is an advanced strategy or merely a bug in the AI, I have no idea. If you expect any sort of challenge from Airfix Dogfighter, you will most likely see it in the last two or three levels of each campaign.
Overall: Airfix Dogfighter is one of those unique games with a premise so far removed from any particular standard or genre, that it almost can't help but be fun. Decent graphics, an incredible variety of weapons and an ultra forgiving flight model are all components that make Airfix Dogfighter worth a look. Still, not everything is to like, and some players may become very annoyed with the problematic camera and overall lack of longevity. What Airfix Dogfighter manages to do successfully is take an extremely family- friendly concept and turn it into a viable game for players of all ages. In an industry where the absence of sex and gore means missing a significant market share, there would seem to be little room for a title which doesn't feature death up close and personal. Fortunately, Airfix Dogfighter survives its more nagging issues and manages to blaze a trail of light fun and humour with its crayon bombs and pellet machine guns".
This review of the game is from the IGN gaming website staff member Steve Butts (posted 28.9.06):
Imagination comes to life in this amazing arcade flying game!
January 26, 2001 - "This is not one of those reviews that starts off with some nostalgic exposition that drips with sappy reminiscence of the days when we were kids and built our own airplane models and ran around the house with them pretending that we were air aces barnstorming the coffee table or performing strafing runs on the cat and then when that was over we covered the model in glue and shoved a firecracker in the cockpit and set it on fire and dropped it off the roof. No. I'm above that. Instead I'd rather talk about the game itself.
Airfix Dogfighter puts you in the role of a kid's airplane model come to life. You'll fly around the house (and even stray outside from time to time) battling against your enemies in a classic Second World War set-up. There are two campaigns, one for both the Axis and Allied powers with ten missions each. The game takes an arcade approach to physics. Although your planes can travel (at scale) several hundred miles per hour, they can also maintain pretty good flight characteristics at a more modest 70 or 80 miles per hour. The game also eases aiming trouble by including a slight auto-aim feature that assures you'll hit a target if you're pointed in the general direction.
The 14 planes, while not offering the same variance that you get in most flight sims, do have some significant differences in performance. Each plane is rated on a scale of one to four in four areas -- speed, control, armor and fuel. Fortunately there's enough of a difference between a two and a three for you to distinguish between the two. For instance, the Stuka has a control rating of one and turns much more slowly than the Typhoon, which has a control of two. Similarly, the Black Widow with its armor rating of four can take much more punishment than the Hurricane with its puny one in armor. I was kind of irritated that so many of the Axis planes have exactly the same performance characteristics. For instance the Fw 190A is a carbon copy of the Fiat G50 (although you score big points for including an Italian plane) and the Komet is exactly the same as the Me262. In addition to those planes you can also fly the Mustang, Spitfire, Dauntless, Bf109, Zero and, my personal favorite, the Hellcat. And if you're counting the number of planes I mentioned to make sure it adds up to 14, you really should step outside and get some fresh air.
But you don't start off with all of those planes at your disposal. You have to earn them through the missions. From time to time you'll be given a mission to retrieve a new model kit and a set of blueprints. These, like all the other power ups in the game are located in vases, jars, or enemy vehicles. I was a little mystified that the final mission in both campaigns opened up new model types. Great, what am I supposed to do with these now that the game is over? Go back and redo some of the other missions I guess. Whatever. Planes aren't the only vehicles in the game, either. You'll have to contend with tanks, jeeps, submarines, battleships and aircraft carriers. For the most part these guys are on the opposing side but you'll occasionally have to perform escort or guard duties for your own vehicles.
As further evidence that this is an arcade game, Airfix Dogfighter includes numerous power ups. These are located all over the house and are often hidden inside breakable objects like vases, plates, jars and mugs. You'll need to shoot these objects to release the power up inside. Possible power ups include repair kits, extra fuel and ammunition. You can also get weapon power ups. Each ten weapon power ups you collect upgrade the destructive power of your weapons. Apart from the basic cannon, you can also pick up numerous secondary weapons including bombs, rockets and guided missiles. Later in the game you'll even be able to use lasers and atomic bombs against your enemies (although the atomic bombs didn't seem nearly powerful enough and are only available to the Axis powers).
The campaigns are really cool and, although short, are mildly challenging. They take you through all the rooms of the house and through a number of mission types. You'll have to sink German subs in the bathub or fight off waves of enemy bombers as they try to take out your base in the attic. A base assault on the garage is complimented by a scramble mission where enemy bombers burst in your bedroom window and try to take out your airfield. And once you blast through a window and take a trip outside, you'll know you're in gaming heaven. I'm sort of ruining the surprise that you might experience the first time your chief asks you to chase an enemy plane into the yard, but it's damn cool.
So I said I wouldn't start off with the sappy reminiscence. Instead I'll finish with it. I don't want to play the old man here or anything, but Airfix Dogfighter did bring back a lot of memories for me. Making scale models wasn't a huge part of my childhood -- I was more into throwing my sister down the stairs than in painting tiny decals on my Grumman F6F Hellcat. But I did make a few models in between trips to the child psychologist. Later in life, during college, I really got into modeling -- so much so that I even know what flash is (it's the little crap that doesn't belong on the piece you just cut off of the tree). But you don't have to dig models necessarily -- if you were ever one of those kids who thought that their toys had a secret life of their own (and who among us isn't?) then Airfix Dogfighter totally capitalizes on that sentiment. And it does it way the hell better than 3DO's Army Men franchise.
I know that some people have criticized the game for not really having any context - you know, like why all this is happening? Like the way that the Army Men games involve some dimensional warp to a world where the toys become real. For me, that's unimportant. As a kid I never really thought that far into things; there was just this sense that the toys could really get up and do these things on their own. That's context enough for me. I don't need some sort of bizarre meteorite or cosmic ray to animate the toys for me; I did that with my own imagination and I think the game's total dodge of the setup works perfectly well.
So the game wins big points on sentiment, concept and game-play but it loses when it comes to long-term appeal. I finished up both the campaigns in about 5 hours and, although there was a lot of fun packed into those five hours, it was over far too quickly. The multiplayer might have ultimately redeemed the game but, alas, there's not really that much multiplayer support. You can have eight players in any given fight but there's no server search feature in the game. Unless you know someone who wants to play, you're in trouble. Also in the multiplayer, you don't have total freedom to run about the house. Another bad move. Still the game is only thirty bucks and, for me, that translates into six bucks an hour. I can think of more expensive things that aren't nearly as fun".
The comments below are taken from James Kay's review for the Games Domain and say it all about this quirky flight simulator (posted 28.9.06):
"Almost every kid - unless they were seriously deprived - had a model aircraft at some point in their lives. Whether it was carefully glued together, smoothed off and carefully undercoated before painting, or whether it just got a slap of silver paint and some transfers glued onto the wings, every single child must have had one. And that is why Airfix Dogfighter will appeal to so many people. You get to fly model WW2 planes around a house, shooting Mom's best china, attacking the enemy base (in the living room downstairs) or blasting through a window and taking on the Hun in the back garden. Excited? You should be.
Create a pilot, choose a mugshot, and before you can yell "Glue tubes away!" you're flying through over the landing to stop Jerry's latest offensive. To get some idea of the humour I'll give you the brief for Mission Two: "Find American spies. Probably hiding in the kitchen." You can play as either the Allies (British and Americans) or the Axis (Germans and Italians). Neither has any real advantage over the other but you do get different missions each and different planes to fly them in. As you might have guessed by now, this is not a serious flight sim!
There are twenty missions in all, and you could probably finish the game in less than ten hours if you put your mind to it., Both the Axis and the Allied missions are of the same difficulty - this could perhaps have been improved upon. If one were harder than the other you could play the easy one first and then get onto the really tough stuff. There's certainly enough playability to keep the player interested.
But what actually does help is the multiplayer. You can play on a network or over the Internet (which runs reasonably smoothly), and if you get a few mates to fly against you can have a good few hours fun blasting away at each other.
On the whole it's actually a darn good game. The planes glide around very convincingly, the humour is very tongue-in-cheek, graphics clear and crisp, and overall it works very well. The only little niggle is that sometimes your planes can get stuck in awkward places when going for power-ups, and the engine will toss it around for a while before it gets out. But it always does get out and although you might end up crashing into the furniture the game proved to be very stable and no problems were encountered during the play testing. It's a great game for kids and adults alike, but it's nowhere near long enough! The very end missions on both the Axis and Ally campaigns provide a very decent sort of challenge. If you find it, go for it!"
EuroGamer Review by Gestalt November 2000
"Most flight sims concentrate on providing satellite mapped terrain and flight models so realistic that you need to study a two hundred page manual and take a flight training course before you can even lift your plane off the ground without crashing it into the side of the nearest building.
Airfix Dogfighter, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air for this most stale of genres. Real world physics go out the window, replaced by one of the most ludicrous flight models we have ever seen, allowing you to pull off gravity defying stunts, and practically bring your plane to a halt without it stalling. There are no laser guided bombs or heads-up displays, and you don't have to press twenty-eight different keys in the right order just to get your plane into the air.
In fact it's more of an arcade action game than a flight sim, but what really seperates it from every other game that involves flying an aircraft of some kind is that you aren't flying real planes in the real world, you are flying the little plastic models of the title around the inside of a house, re-enacting a bizarre parody of World War II. Like something out of "Toy Story" or "Small Soldiers", as soon as the family leaves their home to go on holiday in the rendered intro movie, the toy soldiers, planes and tanks come out to wage war. You will fight on the landing, you will fight on the stairs, you will fight in the kitchen and under the bed. You will never surrender...
At the heart of Airfix Dogfighter are two single player campaigns, one for the Axis forces and one for the western Allies, each featuring a linear series of ten missions. These vary from straightforward search and destroy sweeps to raiding enemy strongholds to capture new Airfix kits, weapons blueprints, or that most valuable of resources .. glue.
The sheer range of different missions on offer is enough to keep you (ugh) glued to your computer throughout. You will find yourself blowing up enemy radar installations in the front garden, sinking submarines in the bath tub, and helping to rescue an imprisoned scientist from the bedroom. The whole thing is very tongue in cheek, and although the humour is rather hit and miss, the sheer magic of flying a model aircraft between the legs of a table while dodging incoming rounds and trying to blow up a vase twice your size is something which will grab your imagination.
The whole game is set within a single house, but it's so huge compared to your tiny aircraft that you never feel too claustrophobic. At the beginning of each campaign you start off with access to just one or two rooms, but as the game continues missions will take you into the sister's bedroom (decorated in a horrible pastel pink wallpaper), the bathroom (obviously the center of naval operations), and the kitchen (to help Il Duce and the Italian forces fight off an attack on his spaghetti cooking operation, naturally). In all there are around a dozen different rooms to explore, as well as the landing and downstairs hall, which you will pass through in most of the missions.
The girl who lives in this room (below) desperatly needs a visit from the Changing Rooms team... It's not just new rooms which are unlocked throughout the game though, you will also gain access to a wider range of aircraft and weapons as you find kits and blueprints. There are 17 planes to fly in all, from Stukas through to Spitfires, as well as Mustangs, Hurricanes, and the Me262 jetfighter.
Regardless of the plane you are flying your main weapons will be your machine guns. These handily lock on to targets near your crosshair, avoiding the need to aim too accurately in the midst of a big hairy furball. Flying into medals (shaped like a star for allied pilots and an iron cross for the Germans) will gradually increase the tech level of your guns, and for every ten you of them that you find your firing rate, range or damage will rise. Sadly you always start a mission with a tech level of zero, which means that towards the end of the two campaigns you will find yourself flying around looking for power-ups for the first few minutes of every mission. As there is no way to save your game mid-mission, this can become tedious.
Other power-ups include glue, paint and repair kits to fix any damage which you sustain, and spare ammunition and fuel should you start to run low. Most of the items you will find are additional weapons though, from basic bombs, rockets, guided missiles and parachute bombs through to fanciful laser guns and tesla coils towards the end of the game. You may even occasionally find an atomic bomb to unleash on your enemies!
Limited numbers of these items can be found simply sitting on the shelves, cupboards, floors and tables of the house, but more often you will have to work to find them. Blowing up the vases, dishes, plates, lamps and other "breakables" which are scattered around the house will reveal additional power-ups, as will destroying enemy units.
The game is viewed from a third person perspective, with a choice of two chase cams and an overhead view which can be useful for (ugh) carpet bombing. The graphics are certainly impressive, and the house in which you are flying has been lovingly recreated in full 3D, from the gruesome pink decor of the sister's bedroom to the dark wood panels of the lounge, and from the u-boats lurking in the bathroom to the tanks patrolling on the landing.
Detail levels are high, textures are realistic, and giant ballustrades and fire places make far more interesting obstacles for armchair aviators than the mountains and cities of most flight sims. In fact the only real low point is when you reach the great outdoors, as an invisible wall stops you from flying too high or leaving the confines of the garden, and the backdrop which shows the world beyond the house is rather ugly and pixellated in comparison to the rest of the game's graphics. Given how frantic most of the missions which take you outside are though, you don't really have time to notice these shortcomings.
If you're not happy with the way that the house has been decorated, you can always indulge in a spot of home improvement and create your own missions, placing furniture, breakables and military units using a simple 3D editor. And when you complete the two single player campaigns, which shouldn't take you much more than six or eight hours, you can take the war online and fly against up to seven other players via the internet or a LAN. You can even customise your planes by changing their colour schemes and designing new logos for them in the built-in "paint room".
Conclusion - Even the loading screens are interesting... Airfix Dogfighter is an amusing if slightly shallow arcade flight sim with ridiculously simple controls - within a few missions you will find yourself effortlessly weaving your way between armchairs, strafing beds, and dive bombing the bath.
It's good clean fun as long as you don't take it too seriously, and the only real problems are that it's all over fairly soon, and the stocking up on new weapons and power-ups at the beginning of every mission can get tedious after a while. The excellent graphics, solid gameplay and oddball setting mean that it's well worth a look though, whether you're a newcomer to computer gaming or a hardcore gamer looking for something completely different".
Last modified 23.11.2010 Ayrton
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