Dogfight Online Exclusive Hands-On Preview

About a year and a half ago, F.A.S.T. came out on the App Store and blew us away with its jet-fueled, online dogfighting. Now, a new game from Z2Live, makers of Trade Nations and its JujuPlay social network, seeks to recreate the success of F.A.S.T. while adding Retina graphics and Game Center matchmaking.

Dogfight Online is a very simple, free-to-play flying game. Our preview build required Game Center to start the app, so this game will probably only be available for newer iDevices and require an internet connection.

Before you start playing, you can view your profile, which has your multiplayer skill ranking and any achievements you’ve unlocked. After hitting “play”, you can then customize your plane, selecting from one of 12 available craft.

The better the plane, the more expensive it is, and to buy them you’ll have to spend either credits (which are earned by playing the game) or coins (which are bought for real-world money, or earned by downloading sponsored apps). Additional abilities, like your speed and weapon fire rate, can also be upgraded for credits.

When it comes to the actual game, Dogfight Online strikes us as extremely straightforward. Without an online community to challenge, we had to content ourselves with the single-player survival mode, where you face waves of enemy fighters of increasing difficulty. You can also play this mode co-op, or play a 1 on 1 versus mode with an online opponent.

Our build only had one environment to fly through, a mountain range with snowy peaks, which looked quite good on a Retina display. However, the screenshots we were provided with show a range of locations.

You can steer your plane entirely by tilt, but you can also perform barrel rolls and other advanced moves by swiping on the screen. Two onscreen buttons let you speed up or slow down your plane. In an arcade-like gameplay decision, you have unlimited amounts of the weakest rockets and machine gun ammo, and there are no fancy extras like chaff. Tougher ammo will cost you coins or credit.

We’re not sure yet whether Dogfight Online will attract a significant following the way F.A.S.T. and Skies of Glory have in the past. Maybe it’s time for a new free dogfighting game to take command. But Dogfight Online is also much less complex than paid flying games like Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. or Top Gun 2, so we’ll see if Z2Live can put as many players in virtual cockpits as they could get tending to a virtual village. Dogfight Online will hit the App Store later this month.

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