Let’s get this straight- Dogfighter does not break new ground. It doesn’t even improve on one of many well-worn formulas. Dogfighter is a game to dip in and out of, nothing more.
However, what a fun dip it is. Dogfighter’s premise is simple- enter one of several maps with up to 7 online opponents or the CPU, and shoot them down. This game is primarily geared towards a multiplayer audience, and the three different multiplayer modes are generic, but functional. The single player however boasts 6 game modes, but unfortunately fighting the CPU just isn’t that fun.
Dogfighter has been custom built for a casual audience, and the mechanics of the game show it. Acrobatics such as barrel rolls can be done at the touch of a button, and there’s nothing like fuel gauges to worry out for. However, Dogfighter has a very odd mix of both hardcore and casual features. For example, flying straight upwards for more than a second or two will result in your plane stalling, but doing 20 barrel rolls in a row followed by a dive towards the ground won’t even give you a redout.
Aiming can also be problematic. There’s no autoaim, so you have to line up your shots with the aiming reticule yourself, but all the planes in the game, even the slow ones, move so quickly that it is impossible to get a good line on them unless you happen to be about 10 feet behind them. Even then, it will only take a mildly skilled player to flip his plane and fly it in a new direction. The CPU is also a master at avoiding all your shots and seems to always be in the opposite part of the map to you.
And that brings me on to another gripe- the maps are too small. Using your Boost speed, it only takes a second or two to go from one side of the map to the other, and venturing too far outside the set boundaries will result in the self destruction of your plane. While some maps have a few interesting little tunnels to fly through, for all intents and purposes they are identical. The scenery is large, but mainly unobtrusive, and adds nothing to the core gameplay.
The controls as a whole are not well thought out either. You can use either the mouse or the arrow keys to control yaw, but acrobatics are spread way across the keyboard, and there never seems to be an easy place to put the Fire key either. While this most definitely is not a flight sim, I would suggest a joystick if you happen to have one lying around.
The graphics are a small respite though. After all that’s said and done, Dogfighter is a fairly pretty game. I experienced some pop-in here and there, but rarely enough to distract me, and the visuals themselves are well done. The plane models are also extremely detailed.
The multiplayer so far is barren. Despite currently undergoing a one-day-Steam-deal for £6, the server list remains empty. And as previously mentioned, with support for only up to 7 opponents, ‘dogfights’ will never get very intense.
Once you’re in the game though, and if you are lucky enough to have a joystick to make the controls more bearable, Dogfighter can provide a few minutes of mindless fun. The powerups that litter the map, such as railguns and heat-seeking rockets are a blast (literally!) and help to spice up what is otherwise another cookie-cutter arcade flight game. The game only RRP’s at £12, but there are many better game you can get for the money.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Great fun for 10 minutes, nice visuals.
Limited multiplayer, no campaign, small maps, bad controls, aiming is more difficult than necessary.
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