Title: Project Wingman
Developer: Sector D2
Publisher: Humble Games
Genre: Combat Flight Simulator
Available On: PC
Official Site: humblegames.com
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Where to Buy it: Steam Store
Combat flight simulators are uncharted territory for the vast majority of gamers, myself included. They can enthrall players tremendously, but generally have too high a learning curve for the casual player. People generally don’t want to dump hours into a game to learn it unless they’re really determined. Still, fans of the genre often find themselves engulfed and intrigued in some high-intensity dogfights.
Project Wingman’s Beautiful Earth
Thankfully, Project Wingman is just that and more. The game drops you into a world long recovered from a global catastrophe known as the Calamity. This lit up the real world Ring of Fire, causing widespread tectonic destruction that shifted the continents drastically. In this new reality, new organizations take hold, with mercenary pilots being the strongest and best they can acquire. If you prove your skills in the air, you can make it far in this world. That’s just where our protagonist, Monarch, lies. His piloting skills are among some of the best, which mercenary group Sicario has taken advantage of.
As a key member of Sicario’s Hitman squad, you’re tasked on missions to help rebels regain control of their continent from an oppressive regime. From the beautiful waters of Project Wingman’s Bering Strait to the vast forests and urban landscapes of inland, you’re taking down skilled pilots left and right to prove you’re the wingman people can count on. These landscapes aren’t the most beautiful, but the game makes up for its texture quality in atmospheric detail and intensity. If there’s a storm above the waters, you feel that immensely. Lightning strikes left and right and turbulence through darkened clouds immerse you into the world, with the dangers truly present.
This makes nearly every mission in Project Wingman stand out from the rest and feel memorable. Both your gameplay experience and aesthetic pleasure are affected by each landscape, making for a varied experience that doesn’t tire. Throughout my 14 hour experience with the game, there wasn’t a single moment where I wasn’t excited to see what was in store next. I knew whatever the game threw at me would instantly excite, almost addicting me into its setting and satisfying gameplay loop.
Working Your Way Up the Ranks
Not only does it satisfy visually, but also in its extensive level of player options and gameplay choices. Before each mission, you’re tasked with selecting a plane and loadout that compliment whatever you’re going against. While you could run a single plane throughout the entirety of Project Wingman, doing so leaves you at a disadvantage. Instead, you have aircraft designed for anything from striking down key land targets to fighting hostile pilots through the air. This layer of choice helps to keep the game fresh, giving you new toys to play with and master.
It almost works in tandem with your learning of the game and its various systems. As you and Monarch grow throughout Project Wingman, so does your array of weapons and understanding of how to use them best. You feel yourself becoming the ace pilot you’re destined to be, taking on bigger and better foes in the pursuit of glory. It’s definitely not perfect, with a few rough edges here and there, but how well it works is fascinating. Developer Sector D2 very clearly understands the appeal of other combat flight games, and have pooled their understanding into the passion behind this project.
Project Wingman’s Engaging Story And Questionable Dialogue
And of course, it’s all wrapped together into the game’s overarching story. While not always hitting its mark due to some filler layered throughout, it does well to engage and immerse you into this alternate version of Earth. As mentioned prior, your skills increase and so does your fame. Pilots go from doubting you to fearing your presence over numerous missions, as you work to dismantle their oppressive regime. I won’t go into much more for sake of avoiding spoilers, but it does well and should satisfy you, even if not surprise you.
But unfortunately, Project Wingman does suffer from major issues in its dialogue and voice acting. Fellow pilots and hostiles will make various quips, but many come off as forced or cheesy. Not to mention some being immature, one situation including a fellow pilot telling the enemy to shut up several times. Joining that is the game’s lack of consistency in subtitles. The subtitles will be completely different from spoken dialogue, actors will repeat themselves, and sometimes the subtitles are missing completely. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is fixed soon after launch, but it’s something those who rely on it will feel let down by.
Sharing in the Glory
There’s also the issue of its similarities to other combat flight simulators. Project Wingman takes a lot from some of the genre’s best such as the Ace Combat series (which was a huge inspiration for the project). While I haven’t played that game, reviewing footage makes this point incredibly clear. From your radar and target markers to elements of the story, Sector D2 takes no shame in showing its inspirations clear throughout. I just wish it had done so not as intensely, as it would’ve helped Project Wingman stand out.
Thankfully though, the team has done some work to remedy this through the other gamemode, Conquest. This takes a more roguelike approach to Project Wingman, having you take on various contracts and build yourself up. You can acquire stronger contracts, fresh planes, allied planes, and plenty more along your journey. While you may not have as big of an incentive to play it as the Campaign, Conquest can be a fun break and some added playtime to an already beefy game.
Verdict: Project Wingman offers an intense and immersive combat flight simulator that’ll keep you addicted for hours. Its atmospheric world and beautiful setpieces will enthrall you, while its gameplay loop keeps you hungering for the next kill. All of this is wrapped together in an engaging story that, while not surprising, offers something to keep you looking forward to the next mission. It definitely sticks close to others in the genre, for better or worse, but it makes strides to help it stand out from the crowd. If you’re looking for an exciting dogfighting title, Project Wingman will keep you vying for the top spot, with the wind in your hair and a smile on your face.
- Beautiful atmosphere
- Great gameplay loop
- Solid progression
- Good story
- Solid setpieces
- Plenty of immersion
- Unique roguelike mode
- Poor voice acting and dialogue
- Doesn't stand out too much
- Few rough edges