Developed and published by ACE MADDOX, Flying Tigers: Shadows Over China (FTSOC) has now released on the Xbox One. Air sim and air combat games on the Xbox One are extremely lacking and the few titles that we do get are typically sub-par or worse. Blue Angels Aerobatic Flight Simulator is a prime example of this. The question we have to ask is, does FTSOC prove to stand out in light of this? The game is a World War II aerial combat shooter and flight sim that focuses on the American volunteer squadrons that flew alongside the British Royal Air Force over China and India. Players will get to pilot a large variety of WW2 aircrafts in defense of China and against the Japanese.
FTSOC features a solid single player campaign based on historical engagements. The single player experience will treat players to a variety of mission objectives such as bombing runs to taking out enemies below. Players will be tasked with torpedo strikes to sink and destroy enemy naval forces, taking control of a tailgunner turret to shoot down Japanese fighters, strafing runs on ground targets, and the staple of combat SIMs aerial head to head dogfights with enemy squadrons. Top to bottom the single player campaign alone is worth the price of admission, despite its short length.
The game also comes with a selection of other single-player modes to jump into including Challenge, Free Flight, and Dogfight. Challenge mode has you taking on a group of special missions that house strict goals to pursue. This specific mode comes with leaderboard support, which is especially ideal for the competitive player. Free Flight hardly needs any introduction and serves merely as a free roaming mode that’s good for honing your skills. Finally, Dogfight finds a middle ground in-between those aspects and allows you to take on the enemy under custom set parameters.
The game also features up to 16 player multiplayer with five different battle modes. Dogfight is an every man for himself deathmatch. Then there is Team Dogfight where you and your teammates go head to head against an enemy squadron. Rocket Battle and Team Rocket Battle equips your fighters with rockets for a one shot one kill experience if you have the skill to keep your enemy in your sights. Finally Flagbusters is an aerial version of Capture the Flag modes common in most FPS’s. Controller configuration on the Xbox One comes with two presets. Arcade style for easy access for beginners or those who just enjoy that style of play, and Pitch and Roll for a more Simulator type of experience.
You can create your own custom control scheme as well. The description includes Mouse and Keyboard, as well as Flight stick options but unfortunately as far as I can tell that is only on the Steam version as I couldn’t get my Thrustmaster HOTAS to work on my Xbox. Hopefully they can patch in Xbox HOTAS support soon. In the audio and visual department FTSOC delivers a better than average experience considering the low price tag. The environments and weather effects are generally pretty to look at. A good number of locales are on offer as well. Aircraft sound is much as you’d expect, wheres the gunfire and explosion sound effects deliver a good experience too, although they may seem a little generic after a while.
I’ve only noticed any music during the cinematic scenes prior to each objective of the mission. During combat the in-game music blends into the background but is present just enough to add a little bit of tension. Unfortunately the game doesn’t come without its issues. Multiplayer currently suffers from player hosted matches with poor connections, resulting in getting booted out of matches and a significant amount of lag. I also witnessed some minor camera control issues that I had during combat, but that may be rectifiable in the setup menu. The game has been rated M for Mature, mostly due to the anti Japanese racial slurs that were representative of the time period. With that to the side, it goes without saying that a stronger online population and some refinements to the fields of play are going to be necessary to keep this game relevant.
With the desolate multiplayer population to the side, Flying Tigers: Shadows Over China will help satiate those hungering for a little bit of air combat in a genre that is in need of a few more good titles. Controls are mostly comfortable on the Xbox controller, though it would have been nice to see support for the HOTAS. There’s enough diverse content on offer to justify the generous price tag, but don’t expect to be blown away.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.