Monday, 26 May 2014

Death From Above

I've been playing some more War Thunder over the past few days and I have to say I'm really quite taken with the air combat in it. I've unlocked a few tier 2 planes now, namely Spitfires - the Mk Ia, and the Mk IIa & IIb. The Mk IIb is a bit of a beast with it's four machine guns and two 20mm cannons, but pushing me up into tier 2 fights has meant my Hurricane and the Spitfire MkI are pretty underpowered against some of the other planes I'm facing. I've also unlocked a couple of bombers and while that role isn't quite as fun as the dogfighting it can be quite lucrative points wise and usually allows me to survive a bit longer, as the added altitude tends to deter enemy fighters from coming after you unless you are really tearing up their ground targets.

It's this ability to switch between dogfighting and attacking ground units that brings the game alive for me. Some of the best moments have been in a fighter plane screaming down out of the sky, all guns blazing on a strafing run against an enemy gun emplacement, seeing it pop in a burst of bright flame and then pulling out of the dive at the last possible second. The sound design is excellent; as you get close to the ground you can hear it roaring past beneath you, you can hear trees rustle as you narrowly avoid their grasping branches. More often than not as you come out of an attack run an enemy player will try to take advantage of your low altitude and you find yourself roaring back into the sky, hammering the throttle into overdrive to give you that all important extra burst of speed while frantically rolling from side to side in an effort to avoid the deadly rain of bullets cascading down from the sky. If you are lucky enough to survive your opponents initial attack run it becomes a game of cat and mouse as you both pirouette through the sky trying desperately to get on the others tail to line up a shot. It's fast, frantic and above all hugely fun, even if you lose! I've also started pottering about with the other countries starter planes and I can't help notice that those matches feel a little fairer. With my British planes I often find myself getting one-shotted out of the sky in some of the lower battle-rated ones, whereas in the starter planes the field seems much flatter difficulty wise.

I took advantage of some special offers going on over the Memorial day weekend, chief among which was a years worth of premium membership at 50% off. I bought myself 10,000 of their Golden Eagle currency for about £40 and then spent 7,600 (I think) of those coins on the reduced membership, leaving me with a couple of thousand coins to spend on converting XP in order to level up planes faster, or even just buy a premium plane or two. For the amount of fun I've had in there over the past few days I'm more than willing to give them some money. The membership really doesn't offer that much benefit over the free game, but I'm a firm believer in spending a little something in any free to play game that I actually enjoy. I'm not a whale by any means, but I'm no freeloader either, and I usually end up spending about the equivalent of a box price on most F2P games that I spend any real amount of time with.

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