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Air Conflicts: Vietnam

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Air Conflicts: Vietnam
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Some folks are born made to make shit games, they're black, white and blue.
Protagonist(s): Joe Thompson
Genre(s): Flight simulation
Platform(s): PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 4
Release: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
JP: September 12, 2013
EU: October 18, 2013
NA: November 26, 2013

Microsoft Windows
WW: October 2, 2013
PlayStation 4
EU: July 4, 2014
NA: September 16, 2014
Developer(s): Games Farm
Publisher(s): WW: bitComposer Games
JP: Ubisoft
NA: Majesco Entertainment (Ultimate Edition)
Country: Slovakia
Series: Air Conflicts
Predecessor: Air Conflicts: Pacific Carriers

Air Conflicts: Vietnam is a flight simulation video game developed by Games Farm and published by bitComposer Games for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows. The PlayStation 4 version of the game was released as Air Conflicts: Vietnam - Ultimate Edition in the following year.


Just like other games of the same genre like Ace Combat, Air Conflicts: Vietnam features an arcade-like gameplay, as the developers aimed to create a game which players could "pick up and play" without requiring a large time investment. The game features many real-life aircrafts from the Vietnam war era, like the F4-Phantom, the F-100 Super Sabre, the F-105 Thunderchief and the MIG-21, however, the game is not limited to airplanes only, as it also features many helicopters, like the AH-1 Cobra and the transport helicopter UH-1.

Why This War Should Be Striked Out

  1. To begin with, the game's options menu is a complete disaster, it only shows the most basic configuration options from the third main categories: game, video and audio, to see or change the control inputs, you need to start a mission, pause the game and then check the controls section, which is something really unnecessary for something so essential like checking the game's inputs. The PC version has even a harder time because in the video section the only graphical option related to the graphics of the game is the option of running the game in window mode, to change the graphical settings, you need to open the game from your Steam library and click the "Configure game parameters" option to change the graphics or modify the "config" file in the game directory.
    • The game menu also looks very lazily worked, in the background, an aircraft carrier with a sunset is present, but due to the poor graphics of the game, it ends up looking very ugly for the sight, the fact that the UI is very basic and generic doesn't help to make it look better.
  2. Speaking of unnecessary things, the control scheme is also very awkward and unnecessarily complicated, proving that the developers didn't even bother to copy the standard of how the controls for aircraft should be for a controller or a mouse and keyboard, and some of the buttons assigned for the different controls of the aircrafts are completely useless or have the same function as another button:
    • For the airplanes, the up and down directions of the left stick of the controller control the pitches and the left and right directions are used to roll and to yaw the airplane at the same time, and if that wasn't enough, for the right stick the up direction is used to increase the speed, while the down diretion is for the opposite and the sides are for moving the camera. For the camera, the L3 and R3 buttons are used to activate the bombing scope and to change the available cameras respectibely.
      • The helicopter controls are somehow even worse, the scheme keeps the controls for the left stick of the controller, but for the right stick, the up direction increases the altitude, the down direction decreases it and the sides are used to stride the helicopter. If you're wondering, the left and right buttons of the d-pad are used to rotate the camera to the sides. A D-pad isn't even mentioned in the control scheme menu.
    • The LB and RB buttons are used to make certain useless aerobatics that don't benefit the gameplay in any way or even help you to evade the homing missiles or the ground fire, which is terrible, because these two buttons could have had a more important role controlling the aircraft, even improving the general control scheme.
    • The triggers are used to shoot the weapons of the airplane/helicopter, the left trigger is used to shoot the special weapons and the right trigger shoots the automatic cannon, this selection is very odd because almost all of the flying simulators use the triggers to increase or decrease the speed of the aircraft, even Top Gun: Combat Zones uses the triggers for this function on the PC version, but even if you decide to ignore this fact, the problem comes when you see that the A button has the same function as the left trigger, with the only difference that you can see where the special weapon that has been fired is going to, but this happens only if you let the button pressed, if you just press it without holding it, it'll behave exactly the same as if you just fired the left trigger instead.
    • The X button has virtually no use in the gameplay apart from using it in the menus, something that can be considered a really wasted opportunity if we take in count all of the problems related to the control inputs.
  3. As if the bad control scheme wasn't enough to torture the player, all of the airplanes and helicopters of the game have a very poor handling, mostly due to a very stiff movement of the yaw and the pitch, complicating even more the gameplay.
  4. The PS3 version of the game supports move controls in a way that the handling can feel like if you were holding a flight stick, but the problem is that this function somehow messes up with the button mapping, causing that the airplane controls apart from the movement get incredibly unresponsive, making some of the most basic tasks completely impossible to achieve.
  5. As for the PC version respects, it can only detect controller and mouse and keyboard inputs for adjusting the controls, if you connect a peripheral that could replicate the joystick of an aircraft, the game won't recognize it adequately, forcing you to install several plugins just to make it work with the game, and even with all of this, it's still not granted that it will work as it should.
  6. The graphics look very ugly for such a late seventh generation game. The models of the airplanes and helicopters look pretty well designed, but the same can't be said about the terrain, as the props and the ground vehicles look very blocky and their textures are incredibly muddy and blurry, but the worst part comes when we talk about the villages because the developers were so lazy that they didn't even bother in making detailed environments and just made textures that try to tease the player, similar to what happens with the ground textures of Superman 64. Even the skyboxes look very poor for a 2013 game, and the same can be said about the visual effects, for example, when your airplane is destroyed in mid-air, the entire airplane (or some pieces of it) will fall down and sometimes it can explode, but most of the times it won't even show up any trail of fire or explosions. Another reason why the graphics look very ugly is because they use a color palette that doesn't express anything at all, it doesn't has vivid or dark colors as base, instead, it just uses lifeless colors that just help to make the game look like a PlayStation 2 game.
    • Many of the animations of the vehicles lack of any fluency when turning or rolling, something that ends up making the animations look very stiff and poorly made, and as stated in the previous point, when your airplane or helicopter gets destroyed, it'll just fall down abruptly without any kind of momentum or movement that could make the game look more realistic, however, this isn't only limited to the airplanes, the ground vehicles also lack of movement and turning animations, which makes the game look very strange.
    • The helicopters and airplanes don't even show up a player model when you switch to the third person view and you rotate the camera to the frontal part of your aircraft, however, this can be seen in a better way in the turret sections, as the machine gun seems to be fired automatically because the trigger of the machine gun doesn't seem to be pulled by any hands.
    • Despite being dated in terms of graphics, the game has an abysmal framerate that most of the times will stay between 15 and 20 frames per second, but in certain zones where the action is more notorious, the game can go down to single digit frames per second. The most affected version seems to be the Ultimate Edition for the PlayStation 4, which is very ironic taking in consideration the superiority of the power of the aforementioned console.
  7. To prevent the player to go too far away from the map, most of flight simulation games limit the area where the player can travel to by marking the explorable areas only in the map and making them quite big to make sure that the player can maneuver the plane adequately. In Air Conflicts: Vietnam, the maps are very small to maneuver a fast-flying jet in an optimal way (taking less than 10 seconds to reach the limit of a level) and the explorable areas are limited by a visible giant wall, making the game look very strange and like if you were exploring a Garry's Mod map.
    • To make things even worse, the maps in the multiplayer and offline deathmatch modes are even smaller than the levels in the campaign of the game, and if you're playing against too many bots or players, it'll be entirely impossible to maneuver the plane adequately and to keep it safe from the enemy machine gun fire or missiles.
  8. Weird and broken physics at some point. If you crash a plane at high speed against a hill or any other structure, there is a 50% of probability that the plane will just bounce and be hardly damaged by the impact, and there are times where crashing against a small object at low speed will be enough to destroy your plane despite having full health, reminding a lot of the physics of FlatOut 3: Chaos & Destruction. The same thing goes for the helicopters, which seem to be even more affected by the flawed physics, probably because of the slower movement.
  9. In some of the missions you're forced to enter in several turret sections, usually in an UH-1 Cobra, these turret sections would be fun if it wasn't by the fact that these sections are terribly hard because all you can do is fire the turret until the ground vehicles or soldiers are dead, there are no strategies or additional mechanics that could make things easier, and if you're playing on hard, the turret sections will be almost impossible to beat because of how fast the enemies can shoot you down.
  10. You can choose the equipment of your airplane right before the mission begins (usually giving you two or three free spaces to equip your wepaons), but the problem is that the game doesn't advice you about what kind of enemies you're going to fight against, and this can cause several cases where you don't have the adequate weaponry to destroy the enemy targets, for example, a case where you only equip bombs in a mission that required air-to-air missiles to fight against the enemy airplanes.
    • In addition to this point, you can somehow compensate the lack of adequate weapons for specific targets with your automatic cannon, which is very strong, precise and has a lot of ammunition, however, the cannon has an abysmal rate of fire that can empty the ammunition reserves in less than ten or even five seconds, and there is no way to refill the wasted ammunition from the cannon or the special weapons, meaning that if you fail to keep your available ammunition, you'll have to restart the whole mission from the beginning.
  11. Using the camera mode of all of the special weapons is very awkward because it will activate a camera where you can see or even control where the missile/bomb is traveling to, but while you're watching the missile or the bomb, your airplane/helicopter will still keep on moving, which can be critical if you're too close from the ground, a structure or under enemy fire, especially for the fact that, again, most of the flight simulators just make a close up of the fired bomb/missile, and this can be performed by just keeping the fire button pressed instead of assigning another button for that specific function.
  12. There is no way to change the objective you're locking on manually, instead, the game will do it for you, usually by focusing on the first aircraft you detect or on the most damaged one, but this can be a serious problem when you're fighting against too many enemies because the automatic lock on can go crazy and never focus on a single aircraft for more than a second or because you have to destroy the locked on aircraft to destroy the other ones if you want to keep using your special weapons.
  13. As it's common in all of the flight simulation games, the HUD contains the speed and altitude of your airplane/helicopter, the indicators of your angle and height and the crosshair, which has a circle shape in this case, it doesn't sound strange or bad at all, until you realize that it's white colored, which is a terrible choice because in most of the cases you will be flying through clouds and cloudy environments where you can barely see any other color apart from white, and as you might expect, you will not be able to see your HUD adequately until you can get out of that zone, something that can be very risky in many cases.
    • For some strange reason, the crosshair of the helicopters is placed downwards from the center, something that can cause the player to have more troubles at aiming at the enemies that are too high or too low for its position.
  14. The homing missiles are terribly broken because they almost never detect the enemy aircrafts, you can even be at 100 meters away from the enemy and the homing missiles will never lock on where you want to shoot at, but other times you can lock on the enemy from too far away, however, due to the broken nature of the missiles, the lock on will never stay in place for more than three seconds, and sometimes when you shoot the missile while locking on, the missile will just refuse to chase the enemy and go in a straight line instead, like if you fired a regular rocket.
  15. To avoid homing missiles, you have to shoot out your flares in time, which is more realistic and attached to reality, the problem with them is that, just like the homing missiles, they're very prone to fail because they won't do anything in half of the cases, and it gets much worse if you shoot them too early because they won't outright work, almost feeling like if the flares just lasted a few miliseconds before dissapearing.
  16. Missions in general are very plain and generic because you mostly keep doing the same things in all of them: Shooting down some airplanes, bombing a zone filled with anti-aircraft artillery and shooting some ground troups. The missions are also very inconsistent because some of them can last several minutes, while others can be completed in seconds.
  17. In addition to the previous point, the missions of the game are so poorly programmed that there are times where if you crash your aircraft (whether if it was intentional or not), you'll still be able to complete the mission and get to the next one without any reason of why that happened in the first place.
  18. In some of the missions where you constantly switch between airplanes and helicopters, you have to rescue shot down pilots within a time limit by using a transport helicopter, however, most of the times these missions will be entirely unbeatable because there is a glitch that prevents the game to detect the helicopter when landed, even if you're placed in the dead center of the area where you should land.
  19. The game gets very boring and repetitive really fast because you only do the same kind of missions over and over without any kind of gameplay change apart from the ones that are introduced in the beginning of the game.
  20. Apparently, the game has a plot involving the pilot Joe Thompson in several missions during the Vietnam war, but the implemention of the plot is terrible and almost non-existent because of the excessive repetitiveness of the gameplay and the fact that the game doesn't even try to focus on the life of Joe Thompson or to implement a setting and series of events that could take the game's plot to another level. In some of the cutscenes we can see the letters that the Joe's family send him, but apart from that, nothing else happens and there aren't even any other characters that could interact with the protagonist and make the plot something interesting to discover.
  21. As if it wasn't enough for the game to have a non-existent plot and a boring protagonist that adds nothing to the plot, one of the main mechanics of the game: the ability of changing of aircraft during the missions, ruins any kind of possible coherent plot that the game could've had. To explain this, in the game's HUD you have the name of the protagonist in the right part of the screen above the lifebar of your aircraft, probably to indicate who you're currently controlling, however, when you change your aircraft, the name of the protagonist will remain the same and it won't change at any moment, and all of this happens in real time, as the maps don't change their current time and weather when you change the aircrafts. In other words, the same character can control several vehicles at the same time.
  22. Atrocious audio design in general. Some of the sound effects are particullarly good, like the engine sounds, but most of them are the purest definition of generic and almost all of them have troubles with the audio mixing. The sound of the missiles in particular lacks of depth in its sound and its volume is very low, but the machine gun firing sound is very obnoxious and its volume is very high, to the point that it can even surpass the volume of the voices of the game. Another thing is that none of the sounds cannot be heard at more than 200 meters, and this can be seem while dogfighting, as most of the times the only thing you can hear is the sound effects of your weapons, the voices and the background music.
    • Some of the sound effects seem to be missing or not added at all, like the sound effects of the anti-aircraft artillery.
  23. The voice acting recorded for the game (Both for the gameplay sections and cutscenes) is so pathetic and amateur that it can surpass games with bad voice acting like Sniper: Art of Victory or Ride to Hell: Retribution. All of the lines of the characters sound very monotonous and withotu any kind of feeling involved, almost as if the dubbing actors were random guys that got paid to say a few lines, not even the Joe's family members during the cutscenes have any kind of good voices acting, and this is terrible because it's like of the game didn't want you to take the plot seriously.
  24. The Deathmatch modes (which includes both multiplayer and non-multiplayer gamemodes) are so terribly unbalanced and broken to the point that it looks like they were hugely rushed or added at the very last days of the development:
    • To begin with, none of the maps have a preview image about how the environment looks like, the only way to know how they will look is by playing the campaign or checking them previously, and just like the levels from the campaign mode, all of the maps are exactly the same, just with some texture and skybox changes.
    • For the case of the offline Deathmatch Mode, the maps will show up some airplane or helicopter symbols near the top of the screen, which at first sight would look like it's a symbol to show up what kind of vehicles can be used in a specific map, but these icons are just there to fool the player, as you can choose an helicopter in an airplane-only map or viceversa.
    • In the offline Deathmatch Mode, you can choose which aircrafts you'd like to fight against to and the amount of enemy aircrafts, however, this function is very limited because you can only choose a single aircraft for the whole amount of enemies, which implies that you won't fight any other aircraft other than the only one that you selected in the configuration progress, it's not like Twisted Metal where you could choose different enemies to fight against without repeating them.
    • The offline Deathmatches will not end after a certain amount of kills or time, instead, they will abruptly end when you shoot down all of the enemies, something that can take from more than 10 minutes or even less than 10 seconds.
    • The game allows you to choose transport aircrafts that you previosly controlled in the campaign mode with another context and gameplay situations, like the UH-1 Huey and the C-130 cargo plane. If you're wondering, almost all of these vehicles are unarmed and weren't even modified to have a different purpose in the Deathmatch modes, in other words, choosing these aircrafts will grant you a safe defeat because you can only throw your flares away until they run out.
      • As for the UH-1 Huey respects, you still have the M2 Browning machine gun in the gunner seat, but this weapon is practically useless against the other airplanes and helicopters because of how fast they are in comparison and because of the low damage of it.
        • You can't even control the machine gun by yourself, it is controlled automatically and it will only shoot when you're close enough to the enemy aircraft, usually at less than 200 meters, and this gets even worse when you see that the computer controlled machine gun barely hits any of the other enemy aircrafts, and coupled with the excessive low damage of the machine gun, you'll never be able to get a single kill during the match.
      • The C-130 only has chemical weapons as the secondary weapons and no primary weapons, but as you might suppose, the chemical weapons are practically useless because none of the enemies are on the ground and there aren't bots trying to shoot down the current players from below.
    • Matches with both airplanes and helicopters are terribly unfair because of the very obvious disadvantage of a helicopter against an airplane in terms of speed, maneuverability, controls and equipment, however, these kind of rounds can be very awkward at the same time because the faulty gameplay can cause a lot of troubles for the players, whether because the superior speed and maneuverability of the airplanes can complicate the task of shooting down the helicopters or because of the broken homing missiles that will never home onto the helicopters or airplanes adequately.
    • In the single player mode, the main cannon of the AH-1 Cobra is controlled by an AI, which detects the enemies automatically, leaving to you the task of shooting it whenever you want to, a mechanic that is great for that gamemode to simplify the controls and the gameplay, but not for the deathmatch mode where you can literally win by just pressing the right trigger to shoot the cannon and waiting until your enemies are all down or the times runs out, and the developers forgot or didn't even bother to remove this game-breaking feature of the Deathmatch modes.
      • It's very probable that the developers didn't remove this feature to make things easier for those who wanted to choose the helicopters for the deathmatch modes, but even with that, it's a terrible choice to not limit the angle of rotation of the cannon and the maximum distance of lock-on. as the cannon can literally lock on any aircraft regardless of their position and the distance they're away from the helicopter, which can, ironically, make things harder for those who chose an airplane.
    • Taking in consideration all of the points that were mentioned, the combat in the deathmatch modes is absolutely awkward and terribly balanced, mainly because the great amount of players on an extremely small area can seriously complicate the things for everyone in the match and cause that a player sometimes can die right after he spawned in the map, and these factors can be even worse if a player picks up an overpowered vehicle, like an attack helicopter.
    • There isn't any kind of reward for winning a match in both online and offline modes. When you finish a match, the game will just show you the results and the winner, and that's it, there isn't any kind of reward for the first three places, not even experience points, which makes these gamemodes absolutely pointless unless you want to earn the multiplayer-related achievements for the online deatmatch mode.
      • The offline deathmatch is even more pointless because there is absolutely no reward for winning a match, not even an achievement, contrary to what happens with the online deathmatch mode.
  25. The Ultimate Edition of the game, which has released for the PlayStation 4, didn't fix any of the bugs and glitches or the bad mechanics, instead, they just added some useless content like aircrafts and missions, and all of these contents don't add up more than two hours of additional gameplay. To make things worse, the additional missions and aircrafts are not worth in any sense, as they're reskinned from the vanilla content of the original game.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Implementing helicopters in a flight simulator that previously focused on airplanes is a pretty great idea, an idea that also has a great weight if we take in consideration that there aren't many arcade flight simulation games involving airplane and helicopters. The only one that did it and had a great weight was Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
  2. Even if they are faulty at times, using flares to evade missiles instead of only maneuvers like in Ace Combat games is more realistic to how dogfightings work in real life, and it's also more simplistic and easy to understand by the players.
  3. The game features many iconic airplanes and helicopters of the era, like the F4-Phantom, the MIG-21 and the AH-1 Cobra. The planes also have a well-enough defined speed and flight characteristics to feel distinct from one to another, unfortunately, you can only use american aircraft in the single player mode.
  4. You can unlock certain additional aircrafts during some of the single player missions (mostly WW2 airplanes) by playing a minigame where you have to rescue some shot down pilots from the desired aircraft, something that adds a great amount of replay value. Unfortunately, most of those unlockable aircrafts cannot be used in the single player mode.
  5. Even if the game doesn't feature any kind of licensed soundtrack, the music composed for the game is very nice, and some songs can even remind of many artists and songs of the era, like Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.
    • As a fun fact, if you look into the music folder inside of the game files, you can find four images that contain the name of the studio that composed all of the soundtrack, the name of the main director of the studio, the email and the phone number of the studio.


Original release


Aggregate score Score
Metacritic 43/100[1] (PC)
Publication Score
DarkStation 3/5 stars[2]
Hooked Gamers 3.2/10[3]
4Players 35/100 (PC)
30/100 (X360)
27/100 (PS3)[4]
Eurogamer Sweden 4/10[5] 4/10[6]

Critical reception

Air Conflicts: Vietnam was heavily panned by critics and players alike at the time it was released. The PC version holds an average score of 43/100 on Metacritic.[1]

DarkStation rated the game with three stars out of five, claiming that the game had the potential to be a great game if it wasn't for the excessive amount of bugs and glitches during the missions, the terrible helicopter controls, the lack of a real plot in the game and the lack of compatibility with certain peripherals on PC.[2]

Ingvi Sn dal from Hooked Gamers rated the game with a score of 3.2/10, stating about the complicated nature of the controls, the unability of the game to recognize flight sticks on PC, the repetitiveness of the missions, the unability of the airplanes to set a speed limit, the general level and gameplay design and the bad graphics for the time. He said the following in his verdict: "Each and every time I play an air combat game, I try my hardest to like it as it is a severely under-served genre which I would like to see grow. However, I cannot bring myself to recommend Air Conflicts: Vietnam. It is, simply put, not a good game. In fact, the lack of polish to the game mechanics almost make the 30 euro price tag laughable. If you're still interested in buying the game after reading this, however, at least wait until the developers have released a few updates to address the control issues. It will it infinitely more playable."[3]

Eike Cramer from 4Players rated the PC version with a 35/100 rating, the Xbox 360 version with 30/100 and the PlayStation 3 version with 27/100. Saying "It takes some effort to demolish a franchise – even if it was mediocre at best. The flight model is simple, the controls are gruesome and the visuals are as outdated as the planes you have to fly."[4]

Mattias Holmberg from Eurogamer Sweden rated the game with a 4/10. Saying "Air Conflicts Vietnam tries to be easy to pick up but merely manages to be easy to put down. The theme of the Vietnam conflict is portrayed well but besides that the experience left me wanting. Lack of AI and some bugged out missions pull the game down from being just mediocre."[5]

Ultimate Edition


Aggregate score Score
Metacritic 30/100[7]
Publication Score
Push Square 2/10 stars[8]
PlaySense 4.0/10[9]
4Players 33/100[10]
SpazioGames 3.5/10[11]
LaPS4 36/100[12]

Critical reception

Air Conflicts: Vietnam - Ultimate Edition received extremely negative reviews from critics, holding an average score of 30/100.[7]

Sammy Barker from Push Square rated the game with the score of 2/10, criticising the poor quality of the general graphics, including the low quality models and the blurry textures, the many optimization problems of the game, the boring and inconsistent nature of the missions and the terrible artificial intelligence, but praising the representation of the Vietnam war and the soundtrack. He said the following in his conclussion: "Air Conflicts: Vietnam Ultimate Edition crashes and burns due to its embarrassing visuals, subpar performance, and repetitive mission objectives. The developer clearly intended to create a game with real moral impact, but its efforts have been undone by a clear lack of budget – and the fiction fails to ever really take off as a result. We suppose that the studio should be commended for its efforts, but when the results are this laughably bad, maybe it should consider walking before trying to fly."[8]

Lennard Verhage from PlaySense rated the game with a 4.0.10 rating, praising the variety in missions, the fun dogfights and flying and the nice soundtrack, but critizising the helicopter controls and flying, the "depression inducing" graphics, the lack of animations, the uninsteresting plot and main character and the mediocre voice action and audio. Shortly describing: "Flying with planes has its fun moments and the soundtrack is enjoyable. Everything else about this title, however, is simply abysmal. Don't buy this."[9]

Eike Cramer from 4Players, who also reviewed the original release of the game, gave it a 33/100 rating. Saying "Also in the so called "Ultimate Edition" this combat flight sim results in a rather ugly crash landing."[10]

Stefania Sperandio from SpazioGames rated the game with a score of 3.5/10. Shortly describing: "Fighters and MIGs are the protagonists of the worst game now out on PlayStation 4. Given the price, the poor arcade gameplay and the embarrassing graphics, you can buy it only if you are trying to waste your money – or if you yearn for playing something that is really, really bad."[11]





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