The list of technical features that Aironauts sports is quite lengthy, but among the most impressive of its advancements are the fully Gouraud textured environments and complex enemy AI. Also worthy of note is the game’s Occlusion Engine, which prevents it from having to deal with models and polygons not immediately on the screen and within viewing range. This frees up the processor to crunch the numbers that are really important and contributes to the title’s ludicrously fast frame rates and animations.
Tech babble will only take you so far in the gaming world, though. Eventually, you have to show what you can do with all that fancy code, which is where many titles fall short. Thankfully, though, Aironauts has no such problems. Not only is it a technical marvel, it’s also marvelously fun to play. Getting the hang of everything is a bit difficult at first, but the game includes a wonderful training mode that walks you through all of the basics as well as a few other advanced tricks that will come in handy. Everything you ever needed to know about piloting your own jet-powered glider is covered in the span of about fifteen minutes, and all of the truly tricky stuff is left for you to figure out yourself. This creates the perfect balance between holding the player’s hand and letting him explore on his own.
Not all is perfect, though, as I occasionally found the controls to be a bit sluggish. This did seem a bit natural, seeing as how gliders aren’t typically the most responsive crafts in the world, but I often had difficulty pulling off stunts at specific moments. They always seemed to go off before or after I executed them, which became rather frustrating. Thankfully, most of the stunts you need to do are mere icing for your score, so this problem never seriously detracted from the gameplay.
As original as its style may be, Aironauts is not going to redefine anyone’s expectations of what a flight or action title should be. What it will do, however, is grab hold of a gamer and refuse to let go until every last ounce of energy has been wrung from him. Once you get the hang of it, this is an extremely difficult title to put down. The customization options make it possible to upgrade each character in a number of different ways, giving players dozens of different ways to complete the adventure. This, combined with its simple, easy to pick up gameplay all adds up to an extremely addictive title that is definitely one to tell your friends about.