Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol Review: Great WWI Aerial Combat
There are quite a variety of ways you could wind up reading this review. Maybe you’re a WWI fanatic—interested in any game that does honor to the historical period from 1914-1918… Maybe you don’t care what time period or universe a game is set in, you just can’t get enough flight combat sims, especially the ones you can load on an iDevice and take with you everywhere… Or maybe you’ve been keeping track of everything Sid Meier has done since he arrived on the gaming scene in the 1980s… We’ve got good news: It doesn’t matter what brought you here, you’re going to be satisfied with what you find. Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol is a beautifully crafted, turn-based flight combat sim that has found its perfect home in the App Store as an iOS exclusive.
Hopefully you’ve got a pretty good idea of the “story” behind this one. WW1 is in full swing at the start of Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol, and your first choice will be choosing a nation. From there, the entirety of the British, French, German, and American campaigns await (well, the entirety will cost some IAPs, but you get the idea).
Ace Patrol is one of those games I expect to get mixed reception depending on expectations. Hopefully the “Sid Meier” part of the title tips most gamers off that this isn’t a guns-blazing, full-throttle first-person experience that will have you white-knuckling a virtual joystick and mashing a machine gun button. Instead, Ace Patrol offers turn-based gameplay with a deep upgrade system—and all wrapped in outstanding visuals… If you’re certain that will bore you to death, I suggest saving your time and not bothering with the freemium download. Maybe something from the Sky Gamblers franchise is more your speed… But if you’re cool with the idea of turn-based action in the skies, Ace Patrol will exceed expectations and prove to be a game well worth spending real money on.
So how does turn-based gameplay look in the skies over Europe and the U.S.? It couldn’t be more straightforward, which is a great strength for a less-casual game like Ace Patrol. By overlaying the battle map with arrows representing your potential actions, the designers help us make quick decisions so we can focus on appreciating the stunning aircraft and watch them do battle. The moves available at any given time are determined by a few things—current G-forces, present altitude, and your pilot’s training. The color of the move-arrows determines if you’ll be inflicting damage on an enemy via your selection.
This straightforward system ensures that just about anyone can jump in and start playing Ace Patrol—though there’s plenty of room for deep strategy and constant improvement. Not only can you begin to make better choices after getting some flight time under your belt, you can also train your pilots in more advanced moves and up their stats. This system makes your pilot roster of utmost importance, so losing a flyer to injury or a POW capture will really put you in a bind (one you can pay to get out of, btw…).
When playing a game that provides tons of room to improve, multiplayer is a must, and Ace Patrol doesn’t disappoint. You can take to the skies alongside a friend, and also compare your scores in Game Center.
Unless you come into Ace Patrol with the wrong set of expectations, don’t count on this game remaining free post download. While it doesn’t pull any sucker punches with the IAPs, you’re going to want to pony up for all 120 missions. It’s worth it. While a lot of developers try to stun us with fast-moving games that rely on glitchy virtual joysticks and buttons, Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol is pure strategy that unfolds at the pace you dictate. Is it for kids? Absolutely not. It’s for gamers who can appreciate the breadth and scope of 30 aircrafts, international conflict, and varied mission types. Yes, there’s thinking involved, but let’s not let that put us off. Ace Patrol is free to try, so I suggest you do that—and don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending a few bucks and navigating the airways far longer than you anticipated. This is WW1, so it’s all for educational purposes, right?
Our Score: 4.5 out of 5