Gamers who devote a chunk of their time to the iOS universe may play their games on either their iPhone or iPad, and although that practice is fine and dandy with most titles, I suggest going the tablet route with Sid Meier's Ace Patrol. With all its intricacies and levels of immersion, this title was made for a wider screen, and as much as I love playing on a smartphone, sometimes bigger is better. It's no wonder that Mr. Meier, the mastermind behind the beloved Civilization franchise, has developed a new project which takes flight in an entirely new direction.
Whether it's the Red Baron or Eddie Rickenbacker, the tales of WWI's top aces has been forever immortalized in history books, and Sid Meier's Ace Patrol successfully gives a bit of dimension amidst all the action. This is not just a by the numbers, turn based adventure that gets monotonous within the first hour. After picking the pilots to engage in your selected missions, you take them to the skies and direct them to their adversaries. During each dogfight, you'll be given information on how much you can damage the other plane if you proceed with the attack.
Each plane has a good number of maneuvers in its arsenal, and with each completed mission at least one of your aces will get to pick a different move to learn. Certain maneuvers are crucial in evading your enemies or finding the upper hand in aerial combat. When in doubt, always pick the ace maneuver!
Although taking down the enemy is the primary draw of the game upon first glance, there's much more pleasure to be had with its finer details. With the use of two fingers on a screen, you can zoom in or out of your surroundings. So whether you prefer the proverbial god's point of view style or the up close and personal combat mode, your bases are covered. Since I prefer seeing the entire landscape of the battle, I usually watch the mission unfold from a distance. Especially since there's a healthy amount of ground to cover with each mission, seeing the entire equation is usually the best way to go.
The game boasts 120 missions, but you'll basically get several missions for the free download. If you want to finish the British campaign (you start the game with Brit fighter pilots), it will cost $0.99. For an extra $3.99, you can purchase the German, American, and French campaigns as well. The good news, for players who just want to play the game for free, is that Sid Meier's Ace Patrol can be thoroughly enjoyed without finishing up a campaign. There is enough variety in the already available missions to keep players satisfied, especially since taking down a zeppelin isn't such a bad day at the office.
Sid Meier's Ace Patrol is that rare title that knows how to balance addictive action and in-game purchases. By giving us enough content as a free download, plunking down a few extra bucks to complete campaigns isn't such a bad thing. I spent a couple of hours glued to my iPad, lost in this new world, and had no idea that outside my bedroom window, day had turned into night. Mr. Meier effectively captured our imaginations with Civilization, and it's great to see that although much time has passed, his creativity continues to take flight.