Project Wingman goes where few flight sims dare to tread.
No, I’m not talking about its post-cataclysmic setting, but that it admits modern warfare is all about money. As you dive into Project Wingman‘s campaign it’s pretty clear you and your fellow pilots are for sale to the highest bidder. You’re not winged warriors, soaring in to defeat the Evil Dictator of Zakystania; if there’s money to be made, you’re there.
But who needs “honourable” motives when air combat is this much fun?
Technical issues prevented me from diving into Project Wingman‘s VR mode, but flying by the seat of my pants never got old. This isn’t a pure simulation; it’s more the offspring of Microsoft Flight Simulator and SEGA’s After Burner. At standard difficulty, you can take multiple missiles before your plane explodes and bullet holes barely make a difference. Instead, it’s Project Wingman‘s refusal to hold your hand that delivers the challenge.
Most of the time you’re given targets and charged with annihilating them. How you go about it is entirely up to you. There’s no balding commander to scream at you if you break formation. I ended up flying into a ship’s firing arc, just because I thought I was “flying under the radar”. No, I didn’t think it through, but I did rewatch the trailer for the new Top Gun, which I’m pretty sure qualifies as research.
The downside of working for yourself is that you have to spend your hard-earned cash to unlock additional planes. You won’t find any official real-world planes here, but several of the jets are based loosely on actual real-world craft. I spent most of my playthrough in what seemed to be a Harrier, minus the jump-jet capabilities. Which I crashed. Again. And again.
In my defence, letting me loose above an actual city, complete with skyscrapers, was just asking for trouble. Even though I’d got enough flares to start a rave, I decided the best way to shake an enemy jet was to switch to an external view and roar between buildings. Fun? Yes. Fatal? At least 50% of the time.
But one of the cool things about Project Wingman is that the fight will continue while you’re showing off. Your wingmen are surprisingly competent – sometimes you’ll have a lock on a plane, only to see it get taken out by one of your fellow mercenaries. Likewise, Project Wingman‘s foes might go down with a couple of missiles but, in numbers, they’ll give you a run for your money.
There is a craft that feels too arcadey in its handling but, for the most part, Project Wingman is a real rush, striking the right balance between realism and entertainment. Well, unless you count the fact that planes are peoples’ post-cataclysmic priorities, but if it’s good enough for Battlefield Earth, it’s good enough for me.