Aerial Strike: The Yager Missions review
Everything you could hope for from a single player air combat game


Ahh Yager, where do I begin with this game that has had me playing for years...Well, lets get the basics out of the way: Yager is a linear campaign single player aerial combat game set in the future (but not way in to the future). Now my initial thought with this game was that because it was a linear campaign single player game (ie, levels played in order, you cannot take a different 'path', if you will), I thought I would be finished and bored with this game in a matter of weeks. Luckily, that was not the case, so lets see why:

We can start out with something obvious, which would be the graphics. For its time, the graphics were some of the best. Not only were they modern for that time, but everything just looked good, and fit in perfectly with the story. As you work for the 'good guys', the landscape consists of green, vegetation, rolling hills, and so on. Then the wastelands are shown as devoid of almost all life, brown, run down, and pretty much just a chaotic wreck. Then of course, the 'bad guys', found in the colder places with snow and ice. Effects from weapons, the environment, and damage are all done well, too, with my personal favorite being the cockpit glass cracking from damage, and once you are up against the more powerful foes, the damage effects are simply superb, as you, in essence, dismantle them, bit by bit.

Now the storyline itself is well done. I myself am not a fan of romantic things, but the developers managed to pull it off well, by only putting a hint of it in, which was able to help in pushing the storyline further, which also had decent amounts of comedy added in...always a plus in my books.

Gameplay consists of mostly shooting stuff, as is to be expected from an aerial combat game, however, there are most aspects to it than just that. For the most part, you are in the same craft, with the same arsenal of weapons, but there are times when you are to protect, find, or figure out. In addition, there are levels where you pilot a different craft, and you are meant to use deception to complete the level, or assume the role of manning turrets, so the variety in this game is quite high, but at the same time, there's no such a large variety that would leave you confused upon each level.

Also, the game keeps track of your performance in terms of accuracy, how fast you complete each level, how skilled you are in killing, your sniper usage, and many more stats. The rewards for getting high enough stats aren't anything really significant, though - its merely for unlocking all the different types of ships that can be viewed in detail, along with specs and descriptions in a 360 degree viewer, but it still keeps some incentive there for the player to become better at each level.

So, what are the drawbacks to this game? Very few, but it would have been great if they were corrected. For one, the linear campaign makes things predictable. While you are allowed to roam the massive maps as you please for almost all of the levels, and check out everything, fool around etc, the end of each level is something that always happens in the same way.

The lack of any multiplayer was a major bummer as well. Even a program made level for predetermined enemies in air combat would have further extended the enjoyability of the game. However, considering that the PC version of this game comes on several disks, it may not be so surprising if there was simply not enough room on the disk to program those features. This is just speculation of course.

I have also read that a lot of people have had some trouble with the complexity of the controls, as several buttons have dual functions, depending on which of the two flight modes you are in. I personally don't feel like this is a major point, considering that the first level is a complete tutorial, the third is a half tutorial, and the second half of the third level, as well as the entire second level are both more proper levels, but at a toned down, less hectic difficulty. For me, at least, that was more than enough to get used to all the controls.

All in all, this is a great game to play, if you're on your own. Even the predictability and lack of multiplayer isn't enough to outweigh the positive aspects of this game, nor is it enough to warrant a rating lower than that which I have given it. Grab it if you can. You'll probably find it in the bargain bin of game stores these days, so there's all the more reason to get it now.

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