Flying Tigers: Shadows over China is set in 1941 (still, a year before America joined World War 2), the Chinese air force still flying outdated planes were not fairing well against the might of the Japanese air force and asked for help from America. A number of US pilots and air mechanics went to China and formed the AVG – American Volunteer Group. In their new P-40s, the pilots fought tenaciously racking up victory after victory, much to the revere of the Chinese people who said: “They fought like tigers, flying tigers.” And thus the name had been given to this group of brave American pilots.
Flying Tigers: Shadows over China by Ace Maddox, follows some of the exploits of this group, combining elements of flight sim, shooter and strategy. The planes and maps look nice if a little previous gen but definitely immersive enough to keep you engaged in the action.
There are two control styles to choose from; Arcade which allows for easier control of automated manoeuvres in your plane, and Pitch and Roll which gives you actual control of your manoeuvres. This mode is more immersive (especially in cockpit view) but it does take some practice to become proficient. You may find yourself switching between views depending on the mission at hand, example flying in formation in cockpit view can be difficult when you don’t know when your squadron is going to bank or climb but in chase plane view (3rd person) there are arrows to follow, but switching views in no way distracts from the gameplay.
However, since we’re on the topic of 3rd person, it has to be said that the exterior camera is awful. It never seems to be where you want it when you want it. If you turn to look in any direction the camera will move for about a second and a half then centre its self which can be frustrating if you’re on a bombing run as the bombing reticule is below you. That being said, the 1st person bombing reticule is much more fun and immersive to use.
The dogfights are extremely fun but can be quite challenging, especially when there is a time limit. There were a few points where I struggled to get the required amount of kills in the allotted time. After playing the same section time after time fail after fail there are points where after you’ve completed the task you don’t so much feel a sense of achievement but more thank god that’s over (which I suppose the pilots must have felt too). True to life, the Japanese planes are more maneuverable and very difficult when they’re in a large group and so whether by design or by way of game physics I cannot say but I found the solution in a documentary which explained how they did it in real life and this tactic seemed to work (bonus points to Ace Maddox).
The campaign is not overly long but may take time to complete sections, however, there are different game modes to play with. These are:
Free Flight where you can choose any plane from the game and any map to fly around. There are no enemies and this mode is just for pure fun and allows you to get used to the different planes, how they handle, what weapons they use etc. the only downside being that the Japanese planes do not have a cockpit view, probably because you don’t use them in the actual game. I would recommend spending some time in this mode (especially if you’re going to use the Pitch and Roll control setting) before you tackle the main campaign.
Dogfights, allows you to choose a plane and as many enemy fighters you want to take on. I found this mode extremely fun as you get all the action of the main game without the pressure of time constraints or mission protocols.
Challenges, this mode has a set of challenges which are based on the standard gameplay but are not simple repeats of campaign missions example capture enemy flags. While some of these can be quite hard to get a good score I found them very satisfying to complete.
And then there’s the good old Multiplayer which does as it says on the tin.
Let’s talk about bugs and glitches. This is a very finished game and I actually only encountered one bug where I was fighting a group of enemy bombers and their health bar was not dropping no matter how much I peppered them at point blank range. I exited to the game then reloaded the mission and all worked as it should.
In conclusion. Flying Tigers is a well put together, challenging but satisfying game with plenty of replay value. Whether you’re looking for something to play for fun or even just want something to bide the time until that next triple-A release you’re waiting for, I recommend giving this game a go.
A solid 8/10.