BOMB: Who let the dogfight? – What We Think:
Oftentimes, a game can be so entertaining that we are able to overlook its glaring issues. It may have faults that prevent if from functioning as well as it should or that bring down your overall experience. BOMB: Who let the dogfight? by La Moustache Studio is one of those games that has many faults but surprisingly still manages to be enjoyable if you’re willing to overlook them.
However, when I say that I find this game enjoyable, it’s with some apprehension. The problems this game has can and will turn many people off. It is still unpolished to the point where it crashes often. I also ran into issues where the camera would fix itself to stay in a certain position, which would force me to restart the current mission. These more glaring technical issues, coupled with more less egregious design issues, really hamper down the overall experience.
Besides the technical issues, there are some game design decisions that make this flight simulator game feel underwhelming. I’d point my finger first at one of the core elements of this game, which is its narrative. The game follows the adventures of Marcel, a wisecracking pilot who falls into the “mercenary for hire” category of fictional characters. He’s not as interesting or as endearing as I would have liked him to be; instead he feels far too generic and not unique enough to stand out.
The characters you encounter and the plot itself are blasé to the point where I just didn’t care. And that’s a big problem when you’re trying to create the kind of vibe it’s going for. The game tries to nail this pulpy, alternate setting feel, similar to another flight game called Crimson Skies. I say “try” because it really doesn’t nail what it’s trying to achieve. In order for this game’s narrative to be entertaining, you need to care about the main character and the plot, but the game doesn’t help do that thanks to subpar writing.
Since the game’s missions are based around the game’s narrative, the missions themselves suffer as a result. It’s not that they are expressly bad, but they feel uninteresting because of the bland plot. A lot of times it just feels like missions were thrown together without any real flow between them. Missions will feature things like: escort an aircraft, defend yourself from attacking enemies, or destroy something on land. Missions themselves are varied but without an interesting narrative to tie them all together or give them some kind of weight; they end up feeling mediocre.
Flight of Fancy
Thankfully, flying in this game is a little more enjoyable. Controlling your aircraft is responsive and feels good, with a nice mix between a simulation and arcade style feel. Turning and moving feels realistic, but it’s easier and faster. Landing is not as painstakingly difficult as it would be in more realistic simulators. You don’t have to worry too much about micromanagement of your aircraft; instead you worry more about maneuvering. Personally I liked this approach to the game’s controls; it doesn’t make the act of flying difficult and instead gives you more freedom to focus on everything else.
Combat in this game feels good but not stellar. It’s satisfying when you manage to get a drop on an enemy plane and take it down. Watching a plane catch on fire and plummet downward is rewarding enough to keep you playing. The problem I found, however, is that the dogfights in this game take way too long. After a while the dogfights—which are this game’s bread and butter—started to feel more tedious than anything else.
What makes it worse is that the game likes to pair you up with multiple enemies at a time, which makes the dogfights even longer. Another grievance that makes combat feel less exciting is the lack of music during most missions.
My Dogfights Are Killing Me
Since combat is a big part of this game, the enemy AI is on full display. The enemies don’t act robotic and oftentimes feel unpredictable. I saw enemies crash into each other or crash into terrain. I have no idea if the AI Was programmed this way or if it is erroneously scripted, but it helped make the combat more entertaining. It was fun to see the AI Make as many mistakes as I did. It made me feel like I was in some way on equal footing with them.
The game’s default difficulty is challenging, but thanks to a recent update there is an easy mode option which makes enemy aircraft easier to take down, which in turn helps make dogfights feel like less of a drag. I highly recommend you switch to this game’s mode when you start playing, because it helps make the game less frustrating without ripping out challenge completely.
BOMB won’t blow you away with its visuals, but when you fly through stormy weather, into a cloud, or close to land level terrain, it looks good. I had no issues with the visuals and thought they fit the game’s tone nicely. The realistic locales boast nice colors that contrast well with one another. Orange, rocky terrain against a bright blue sky made one map in particular especially visually pleasing. The game’s color palette helped sell its pulpy tone as well as making flying through the different environments a joy.
Head in the Clouds
I felt the combat and the way flying feels is BOMB’s saving grace; I had fun playing the game despite the fact I found its narrative underwhelming. It’s a fun game with some faults, and for many it’ll be hard to overlook them especially when there are games out there in the genre that might be better. But when a flight game’s flying feels good, you can’t help but get some enjoyment out of it.
Watch the trailer for BOMB: Who let the dogfight? below: