AERONAUTICA IMPERIALIS: FLIGHT COMMAND / DEVELOPER: BINARY PLANETS / PUBLISHER: GREEN MAN GAMING / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Let’s be honest - there are a lot of videogames out there with the Warhammer 40,000 logo slapped onto them. The sci-fi franchise’s slogan declares that there is “Only War,” and that makes it a prime target for violent games of any type. Aeronautica Imperialis: Flight Command is a videogame adaptation of one of the less well-known Warhammer board games, namely Aeronautica Imperialis. It’s an air-combat game; Top Gun style pilots in high-tech planes versus crude but powerful alien aircraft.
Gameplay-wise, this is very close in design to the actual board game. You’re moving your fighters in a proscribed way across the sky. You select your moves and then the results of those orders play out. Weapon fire is automatic, unless you de-select weapons as part of your order (though weapons only go off when enemies are in range). Some moves will stress the pilot out (such very tight turns or sharp descents), limiting the orders you can make next turn. The game doesn’t provide a dice-rolling graphic but it certainly feels that way. Orks and humans are playable and there are tactical differences with both, meaning that tactics for one won’t work for the other.
The graphics are okay, and this means the game will run on most PC builds. The game itself is smooth and runs well and it feels like functionality has come at the cost of making the game pretty. That said, the aircraft look like more realistic versions of the models from the board game and the background scenery is fine. Yes, the game could be prettier but it really doesn’t need that; what it delivers instead are the results of your plotting and planning very quickly, which is much more interesting. This makes it a pitch-perfect Warhammer experience.
Aeronautica Imperialis: Flight Command is good because the board game it’s based on is thrilling. The same plotting and pondering over your next move from the table-top game is here; you’re constantly second-guessing your opponent, trying to out-think and out-fly them. The world is atmospheric but there’s not much of a plot; this is a shooting things and thinking game rather than a story, which is a pity because Warhammer 40,000 novels like Double Eagle really paint a cool picture of life as a pilot in this world.
Overall, this is a fun game and should come into its own in multiplayer mode. It’s not a grim dark flight-sim, but it is quite an entertaining challenge.