Like it’s aerial brethren Altitude, Dogfighter is a plane based combat game with a heavy emphasis on Multiplayer over a standard single player foray. Dogfighter unlike Altitude is a completely 3D experience allowing players to experience gorgeous vistas, scenery and violent explosions.
As the game is majorly focused on Multiplayer, it would obviously have to excel in that field and luckily Dogfighter does. Eight players at a time can take to the skies in a bid to outshoot, outmanoeuvre and all out destroy their enemies. The great thing about combat in Dogfighter is how simple to play yet difficult to master it is. Flight direction is controlled with the mouse, whilst the W key is in charge of boost, A and D barrel roll in their respective directions and S slows down your aerial machine of death.
However as with their real life comparison controlling your plane is never that simple. By hitting various keys on the board you’re able to perform numerous aerial acts to get the drop on your opponent. Have a plane behind you shooting you up? Simple, smash down the good old shift key and watch your plane do a full loop and then you have your opponent in a compromising position of death. Maybe you saw someone behind you, hit the Space Bar and do a 180 and roll over to be on a path to destruction right towards the enemy.
Combat isn’t all about flying though, well actually it is, but there’s also power ups. When you spawn your plane starts off with essentially a pea shooter. Scattered around one of the five maps that ship with the game is a number of weapon power ups. They range from a modest shotgun attachment to a minigun attachment that just reigns death upon your enemies. They’re all placed well and really do serve as a great innovative idea that works well with the game. Nothing beats flying through the Volcano level and scooping up a bunch of destructive presents then unleashing them upon your unsuspecting opponents.
As well as the weapon attachment power ups, also included in Dogfighter are what I would call Passive power ups. They do your normal things like make your plane invisible or even give you extra health. Scattered around maps is also balloons you can shoot to access random power ups. There is also malicious tools that can shut opponents engines off, right down to a power up that turns your plane into a skinned version similar to your enemies to help disguise you.
Dark Water Studios has done a great job creating five maps to ship with the game, ranging from a huge mining site right through to an old Egyptian pyramid site. They are constructed really well and offer great strategic options. Is it worth flying through the narrow tunnel and risking death to get the awesome homing rockets? Should you risk getting trapped, but getting more health? Options like that await at every skirmish, and it is really fun to partake in. As well as being constructed well, the maps also look awesome too. I noticed how great the water looks, and I commend Dark Water on doing such a brilliant job of creating lifelike, well textured maps.
To go along with the awesome maps, Dark Water has created a stack of awesome planes, each with their own pros and cons. Do you want to be fast into the combat with moderate weapon power, then zip off into the horizon? Or are you more aimed towards causing as much damage as possible with little to no armour? You’re able to change planes whenever you die, so you can always tailor the experience to whatever strategy you’ve formulated.
Sound wise I feel the game is a bit bland. It would’ve been nice to hear bullets whipping past my plane as I cut through the air, or a nice Just Cause 2 explosion sound greeting me as I lay waste to one of the many sky bound enemies. The same annoying soundtrack plays over and over too. It’s a “Metal” soundtrack featuring guitar riffs, and it gets annoying pretty fast, so fast in fact I turned it off in the first round. To quote the words of a great; “I’ve had it with this god damn metal soundtrack on this god damn plane game!”.
Something I noticed from playing Multiplayer was how difficult it was to find a game. I don’t know if that is because of the time I played it or lack of sales, but the lowest latency I could find for a server was showing up as 2000ms. Damien Gallagher, Executive Producer of Dark Water Studios assured me that many additions were coming to the game, including a Dedicated Server Client and your standard add-ons in the form of more maps and gametypes.
On the topic of game types, Dogfighter really doesn’t break any new ground there. It is what you would expect to see in any Multiplayer experience, with your usual Deathmatch/Team Deatchmatch based stuff. Something I do enjoy playing is the Survival mode that pits you against numerous enemies, as you fight for your life. The Steam achievements based around the Multiplayer left me scratching my head a bit, too. One of them is rewarded for flying around the inside of a volcano for 60 minutes. Considering flight through the volcano generally takes 10-15 seconds, people are really going to be grinding for these.
In summary, Dogfighter is a brilliant multiplayer experience, but that is where it shoots itself in the foot. Lack of online games really is going to affect playing in my opinion, as the AI is great to play with, but not nearly as fun as a human. If you’ve got Steam and some money to spend I recommend Dogfighter as an enjoyable new and fresh title. If you want to queue Dogfighter to your Steam account click here, it’s definitely worth it.
+ Fun plane combat done the right way
+ Planes and weapons all mix and balance perfectly
– Bland annoying soundtrack
– Not many online games
DogFighter was developed by Dark Water Studios and published by Dark Water Studios for the PC. The game released in the United States on June 15th 2010 with a retail price of $16.99 USD. The copy used in this review was for the PC and sent to us by Dark Water Studios. The game was played to completion for the purpose of this review. Specs of the PC used are as follows: Asus M2A74-AM-SE Motherboard, AMD Quad Core 630 @ 2.81ghz, HIS 5750 1GB DDR5, 4GB RAM, Tritton AX720 Dolby Digital 5.1 Headset, Windows 7 (64 Bit).