When Airforce Delta Strike found its way into my to-review basket, I thought, “what the heck is this?”  I had never heard of the Delta Strike series, which has apparently been around for a while, but I am a big aficionado of flight combat games.  Since I’d never heard of the series I was definitely a bit skeptical, but when I found out that I would be able to use my USB Logitech Force 3D joystick to play, an eyebrow lifted.  There’s nothing worse than trying to play a flight sim with the analog stick on a PS2 controller.  So with that obstacle removed I set out to try the game:

I was impressed by the overall graphics for ADS with a few exceptions.  The “In-flight” parts of the game are well done.  Aircraft models are very cool and pleasing to look at, landscape and terrain are average if a little barren at times.  Action is smooth as silk with no frame rate problems.  Enemy vehicles, buildings and units are modeled with great detail, before and after their destruction at your hands.  Transistions from low altitude to high altitude combat through clouds are pretty neat and definitely make you feel as though you’re flying extremely high.  When you’ve completed (or failed) a mission, you get a chance to watch a  replay from a few different camera perspectives.  This replay is probably the most exciting and eye pleasing part of the game and can even be saved to your memory card for future viewings.  I saved quite a few of my mission replays and watched them play out a few times.

Between mission sequences are done in a still anime style of storytelling, of which I am a big fan.  The characters are drawn well and look good. 

The gripes I had for the game are relatively minor but bothered me nonetheless.  A frequently encountered pet peeve of mine is games that have lackluster explosion effects.  Airforce Delta Strike suffers from this very ailment.  Although they aren’t horrible, the explosion effects left me generally unsatisfied and wanting more. 

Music for ADS consists of jazzy guitar elevator tunes during between mission times while in-mission audio is mostly radio chatter, gunblasts and explosions –  you won’t even hear the music.  The tunes were a little above average. They didn’t overly impress me but certainly didn’t make me want to puke from my ears.  Voice acting isn’t horrible, nor is it academy worthy, but be warned that it is FULL OF CHEEZE.  The characters dialogue feels like its right out of a low budget translation from a children’s anime.  It’s definitely hard to take the characters seriously but the interaction is, at least, good for a laugh or two

In game action sounds effects worked well, especially missile and rocket sounds and explosion effects.  I was very disappointed with propeller aircraft sounds.  They sound nothing like the real thing, and being an old WWII warbird lover I was really hoping to hear at least some decent prop plane effects.
Overall the sounds and music for the game were average with a few minor disappointments.

The control scheme for Airforce Delta Strike is superb.  This is mostly due to the fact that the game comes set-up for use with a USB Logitech joystick, which I have.  I’m the type of person that can’t stand playing an FPS without a keyboard and mouse, or playing a flight sim without a joystick.  If you DO use the PS2 controller it works as well as you might expect: touchy and very difficult to be precise.

The user has the ability to set controls to a few different schemes: Novice, Pro and Ace.  The biggest difference between the three is the way left and right work.  In Novice mode, Left and Right on the stick translate into left and right Yaw in the game.  This is more arcadey and not true to real life avionics.  In Pro and Ace, Left and Right stick movements translate into Left and Right roll, which is how a real aircraft responds to the stick.  The only difference between Ace and Pro is the addition of an extremely useful air brake in Ace mode.

The controls work wonderfully.  If you don’t like the button schema you can change individual button functionality. 

Airforce Delta Strike is 3/4 Arcade and 1/4 Sim.  The basic flow of the game goes like so:  Attend mission briefing, buy/outfit aircraft, choose pilot, take off, do mission, and repeat.  You’ll be spending the least amount of your time on base, where you can do a few different things.  You can talk to other pilots and officers to get to know them, learn what their motivations are, get a few tips and also learn how the war is going situationally.  This is done by selecting TALK and just reading what each person has to say depending on where you are in the base.  In other words there’s not much, if any, interactive conversation.  While in the base you can also purchase new aircraft.  New aircraft become available after you complete missions.  If you happen to get shot down in mission you’ll have to head over to the hanger to get your plane repaired.  Buying new birds and repairing them costs points that you earn by destroying targets in mission.

The meat of the game lies in the action packed missions.  For the most part mission objectives consist of destroying all ground targets, destroying all air targets or a combination thereof.  There are a few exceptions, for example there are a couple missions where you just have to survive or just make it through a “gauntlet” ridge.  What really makes this fun is the myriad of planes you have available to select from.  Depending on what pilot you choose and how many aircraft you have purchased, the aircraft available to you range from standard jet fighters to VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) craft to World War II prop planes to high tech space fighters.  The different aircraft vary greatly in capability and role making it important to choose the right bird for the job.  In addition to picking the right aircraft, each bird can be loaded out with a special weapon which must be purchased to be used.  Usually this special weapon comes in the form of a bomb or missile.

Although the flight physics for the game feel very arcadey, there is enough sim in the game to allow for stalls and slipping.  This makes watching replays seem that much more realistic and exciting. 

There is a storyline for the game but it is secondary.  You start the game as Ken Thomas, a pilot with a secret past looking for revenge, who has just joined the Team Delta: a ragtag military unit looked down upon by the rest of the military.  Sound a little clichéd?  Well the whole game is made up of clichés!  Most of the pilots fit one archetype or another.  Standard fare for a Japanese game it seems.  After the first few missions you are able to play as any of the other pilots in Team Delta but the general focus tends to be on Ken.

With over 100+ flyable aircraft and 9 different pilots I’d say that the replay value on Airforce Delta Strike is decent.  The storyline and dialogue are pretty hokey so this one has to stand almost completely on its gameplay, which is barely above average. If you like cheeze anime character dialogue and clichés and you like a fairly solid arcade flight sim then you’ll probably like Aiforce Delta Strike.  There are a ton of planes to fly, plenty of missions and fairly good graphics to weld it all together.  I had fun playing this one, I think you will too.  Especially if you have a Logitech USB stick.