If you’re a fan of flying games; you might have already been aware that Jane’s Advanced Strike Fighters was released in the UK on March 9th, 2012 – and you’re having a great time. Developed by Trickstar Games and published by Evolved Games – it offers a lengthy single player campaign mode that can be played both solo or cooperatively with friends and an intense multiplayer combat for up to sixteen players on Xbox LIVE across a variety of expansive game modes. If you didn’t notice the game was out in UK retail stores – well, you might as well be forgiven since any game that releases on the same day as Mass Effect 3 in the UK was bound to go under the radar. If you’ve never played an aircraft game in your life – it’s actually pretty good, but you need to take the time and effort to learn the controls; for the first time ever you might have to do something called “read the instruction manual”…
Starting with Jane’s Advanced Strike Fighters (JASF) campaign mode, it tells the story of war spread out through 16 missions within a fictional land known as Azbaristan; once a great nation, but over the past decade it has been torn apart by civil war and uneasy peace. Having been split into a Northern and Southern divide, the Northern people of Azbaristan are a controlling political party whilst the Southern divide are a democratic front that has only managed to hold off control from the North with the aid of a Western Democratic alliance. The Western alliance supplies military aid to the south in return for a share of oil exports from their vast reserves – you on the other hand take on the role of a pilot seconded to the Southern Azbaristan Air Force by the Western Democratic front – and war is coming – so you better be ready and have your eyes on the ball…well, enemy!
You start off with a small basic selection of the aircraft on offer, where further upgrades and more powerful flying machines gradually unlock the deeper into the campaign you go. There are around 30 authentic, licenced fighter jets from the last 30 years where you get your pick of jets, ground attack airplanes and multirole warplanes each with their own destructive weapons.
The more modern fighter jets tear through the skies at blazing speeds and the older warplanes take a slower approach, but it’s to keep in line with a realistic take on the game. The technical references for each aircraft was provided by Jane’s Information Group to guarantee the high level of authenticity; named for its founder Fred T. Jane, the specialist publisher that produces media focusing on areas such as military technology and aviation. So if you thought Jane was a fictional female character with her own set of private jets to play with… it’s a little more technical than you might realise.
Flying an aircraft for in-game war purposes is not an easy task. As well as keeping your eye on your target objectives, keeping your fighter jet in the air is a challenge in itself so it comes highly recommended if you buy this title to learn and master the controls. At first, any gamer new to this genre of game is going to lose their mind as it is incredibly frustrating to master the art of maneuvering an aircraft the right way up. If you think you can get used to playing the game upside down – so be it! Once you have spent a good hour practising and learning, taking the time and effort to get to grips with the controls of an in-game jet, it does become a bit of a breeze.
For Jane’s Advanced Strike Fighters Multiplayer game modes, you four extra gameplay modes in addition to 4 player campaign co-op consisiting of Dogfight, Team Dogfight, Rabbit and Base Assault. Dogfight and Team Dogfight are the Deathmatch modes of play and the number of kills or time limit determines the duration of play and overall winner. Rabbit is basically a game of chase, a player becomes the rabbit and the one who downs the rabbit then becomes the rabbit who must evade all the other players for as long as possible – then finally, Base Assault, one of the most fun game types that involves destroying the enemy teams base and then shoot down their remaining planes. So, with a great line up of online game modes there’s plenty of replay value once you’ve completed the main mission. Also, as with most games with online play you can join a quick match, set up a custom game and host your own lobbies with rules to suit you and your team.
Visually the level of detail within the game as you fly over a massive territory that spans 65,000 square kilometres, with mountains, deserts, and a mass of urban landscapes as the view below is quite outstanding. The only one minor thing ruining the scene on the ground is the graphically poor representation of buildings which look very blocky and more like grey cardboard cut-outs, but everything else around them is very pristine and insanely realistic. It is a really enjoyable game, but will more than likely appeal to a specific gamer who enjoys PC flight-simulation wanting a similar experience on a home console. For those who have never played a flight simulator – ever – you might just pick this up as an impulse buy or this would make a great gift for someone you know who might never buy the game themselves.
Once you get to grips with it (literally), it is a highly enjoyable, addictive combat game where you experience a war from the perspective of a pilot. We’re all too used to playing with soldiers in ground-war games to bother with coming out of our comfort zones. Jane’s Advanced Strike Fighters is worth the risk if you want a challenging experience that you can enjoy just as much solo as you can co-operatively.