One of the benefits of the Wii's unique design is the potential for innovative control schemes to introduce new ways of playing games that belong to traditional genres. Unfortunately, for every inventive Wii game, there are a number of shoddy, halfhearted efforts to shoehorn motion controls into a game that doesn’t benefit from them. WWII Aces is a flight combat game that loses any appeal it may otherwise have had by forcing unresponsive motion controls onto an already maddeningly difficult game.
In WWII Aces, you can choose to fly for the RAF, Soviet Air Force, or the Luftwaffe in three distinct campaigns totaling more than 70 missions. Each campaign offers a significant variety of objectives, ranging from simple checkpoint searches and dogfights to paratrooper drops and bombing runs. You'll have your choice of 12 planes that each handle a bit differently and utilize different sets of armaments. However, you won't know which plane is the best choice until you try a mission with the wrong plane and fail. Although the game presents you with your objectives before the start of each level, it's often unclear how to complete those objectives once you enter the mission. For example, you may be tasked with destroying a fleet of ships before the enemy can fire its arsenal of torpedoes, but these ships do not appear on your map until halfway through the mission. When missions last upward of 10 minutes each, sitting through the first half of the level only to fail shortly thereafter is frustrating. Each level can be tackled by yourself or cooperatively using split-screen multiplayer. Playing with a friend makes completing the objectives a bit easier, if only because your incredibly accurate enemies have one more target at which to fire. Dogfight mode allows you to set up a quick air battle against several AI opponents, but these fights are only fun when you can mess around with a second player.
The default control scheme uses only the Wii Remote. Holding the controller sideways, you move the aiming reticle by tilting the remote. Quickly jerking the controller to the side performs a barrel roll, while flicking it up performs a flip to evade pursuing enemies. Unfortunately, you'll often oversteer during intense dogfights and miss your target, while your enemies do not seem to have the same trouble. Adding to the frustration, barrel rolls and flips are rarely recognized properly. This causes you to perform the wrong maneuver and get back into the line of fire quicker than you anticipated. The second and third control schemes offer some reprieve by letting you use the motion sensitivity of the Nunchuk to control your plane's movement. They also relegate such actions as barrel rolls or firing weapons to the D pad and A button, respectively. None of the control schemes feel entirely intuitive, and it's unfortunate that a more traditional arrangement using the analog stick isn't available.
WWII Aces also suffers from long load times, often making you wait more than 30 seconds to enter a mission. These load times are curious because the game's graphics and presentation are downright ugly. Its pixelated, barren landscapes could have been adequately rendered on the Nintendo 64 or PlayStation. Distant enemy planes or tanks appear as nondescript red triangles that are impossible to distinguish until you're dangerously within reach of their weapons. Oceans and forests are depicted as static blue and green textures, while your plane is only slightly more colorful, full of jagged edges. The game's soundtrack, which is appropriately dramatic, is the only commendable aspect of the game's presentation. Sound effects for weapons fire and voice acting for mission introductions are adequate, but they're not at all impressive.
Although WWII Aces offers sufficient content and variety, its frustrating difficulty, shoddy control schemes, and terrible presentation do nothing to justify its full retail price. This game does not meet the visual standards of its platform, and would have fared better with traditional controls. If you're interested in a Wii game because the system offers the chance for a novel control method, there are plenty of other games for you to try. Avoid this frustrating, halfhearted attempt.