Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
World Destruction League: WarJetz
Score: 74%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: 3DO
Developer: 3DO
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
Unfortunately for WarJetz, the graphics just aren't up to today's snuff, especially on a console as powerful as the PS2. There's no two ways about it--the game looks a lot chunkier than it should. Buildings blow up the same way every time, leaving jagged edges. The world seems to have turned to a miasma of mottled green and brown, with the occasional grey and white peeking through. Yes, the various vehicle models are quite detailed, but even they look somewhat chunky, especially considering the things that have come before them on the black monolith. Add to this a framerate that regularly dips below solid and weak graphics effects, and WarJetz doesn't shine like even a grungy post-apocalyptic game should.

On the other hand, the FMV in the game is uniformly solid. Sure, the characters are annoying, but that's on purpose.

Sadly, the sound is much like the graphics--forgettable music, uninspired sound effects. The 'wheeeeo!' of dropping bombs reminded me more of Xevious than anything else, and I couldn't hum a note from the game to save my life. The announcers are generally pretty amusing, and indeed I chuckled at a few of their lines, but you hear them often enough that you'll soon be turning the volume down. You can only love the parody of Apocalypse Now a few times in the morning before you get fed up with it.

And while WarJetz is by no means a shining beacon of gameplay, it's nonetheless entertaining for a while. The single-player game is probably too repetitive for most players out there, so the multiplayer is where people are going to find their fun; for what it's worth, the game does multiplayer nicely. The single-player campaign isn't too bad either, although most people would tire of it quickly. And the controls are actually very tight for an arcade flight combat game.

The game doesn't even attempt to make a semblance of a plot. You're an up-and-coming player in the World Destruction League, and it's up to you to blow up lots of crap, win lots of Bux, and in general cause chaos. The single-player campaign starts off with you picking one of three locations to call home: Panama, the Rhine River valley, or Thailand. Each has their own specialty vehicle. After you best them on their own turf, you can move on to bigger and better opponents, in places like Antarctica and New York.

The fights themselves are usually fairly simple when it comes to objectives. One of the common ones is a basic version of Capture The Flag; you simply have to capture as many of the enemy's flags as possible. You don't have any to be captured, so your job is basically to stay alive and best the bad guys. Another common one is the destruction of some number of 'objects'--zeppelins, boats, actual opponents, whatever. And you'll often have to 'make a run for the Bux', scooping up the cash around the playfield before the other team gets more money than you.

You control a single fighter, although you can switch between it and another by picking up a special token. Each fighter has two weapons--a 'gun' and a 'special weapon', both of which differ depending on the craft that you choose. While the peashooter can't be upgraded, each level contains a number of yellow orbs that boost the power of your special weapon, often to epic proportions. You also have a bomb, which you can use to shell buildings and other ground targets with relative ease. I found this generally superfluous, although there are times that it's useful to use that instead of just shooting something; as a rule, though, whatever your bombs can destroy, your main guns can as well.

The various craft all have a number of moves that they can do. Besides steering, you can do loops, U-turns, and either rolls or strafes with a flick of the right stick. This ease of control means you can zoom around the battlefields with relative ease.

There are a number of multiplayer modes, each of them a variation on things seen in the Campaign mode: collect money, destroy your opponents, and so on. The game only supports one other player at a time, but there can be computer controlled opponents as well.

While this is all well and good, the execution ends up leaving something to be desired. The battlefields are generally huge, but there's only so much fun one can have by destroying everything in a level. The AI is generally either really dumb or really good, tailing you or completlely ignoring you. The fact that you can always buy new men with Bux means that dying isn't as bad as it usually is in a game of this sort, and it leads to some crazy suicide tactics when you don't feel like arsing with strategy. It's not so much that the game itself is bad; it's just that it never really 'gels'. It's amusing, but nothing I'd throw back in my PS2 unless someone asked for it.

You can choose the difficulty level when it comes to the campaign, which seems to control both the level of the AI and the damage your craft takes. Depending on your skill, you may want to keep it on Novice; the skies are definitely unfriendly. Even on the higher levels, though, the AI isn't as sharp as I would have liked it to be, but I suppose that's understandable; what's the fun if you can't beat them? Ah, well. It's still quite hard to get through the levels on the higher difficulty, but not because of the enemy fighters. It's mostly because of the various enemy batteries: guns, boats, and so on. These hit fast and hard on the Novice level, and it's that much worse on the Hard level. The problem comes from the fact that there's still just one of you, but they are legion. So prepare for a challenge when you attempt the single-player campaign on the higher difficulties. The multiplayer challenge, of course, comes from just how good your human opponent is.

Game Mechanics:
Despite its arcade feel, WarJetz makes use of almost every button on the PS2 controller. You have accelerate and slow down on the shoulders, steering with the left stick, roll/strafe, loop, and U-turn on the right stick, and fire, secondary fire, and 'bomb mode' on the face of the pad. While the controls seem a little overwhelming at first, by the end of the first stage or two you'll have them down without a problem. The only ones I ever get confused are the loop and the U-turn, and those are usually not as important as the rest. The menus are spare but workable; I would have preferred a better way to pick the stage to play in Campaign mode--a more 'clickable' map, instead of the semi-random ordering of stages, would have been nice--but that's pretty minor. There are load times, and they're not short, but they're not overmuch long either. Saving takes a lot longer than I thought it would, though.

If you're not looking for deep and engrossing gameplay, WarJetz may be right up your alley. The graphics aren't sharp, and the sound leaves something to be desired, but there's some pretty good gameplay in here, especially when it comes to playing against your friends. The single-player component is definitely lacking, and the game as a whole never really 'clicked' for me. It's just not as much fun to blow up stuff over and over when it's just you; the relatively small number of unique challenges and things to do won't keep you coming back for long if you're playing solo. If you and a friend have been looking for a simple flight combat sim to play against each other, look no further; everyone else should definitely try it before they spend their money. WarJetz isn't a travesty, but it definitely had a lot more potential than the final result.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.