Red Wings relies on the mythlogized aerial acrobatics of WWI – think Snoopy on his dog house, gunning down foes. It’s a notable comparison as Snoopy offers some characterization; Red Wings does not.
For a war so tense, Red Wings is unusually lean, leisurely, and low stress. The moment-to-moment shooting gallery fares fine, with a satisfying hook, but whiffing on the daring action and potential excitement.
Although dealing with two campaigns, each is essentially the same. Or, exactly the same with different colored bi-planes. This includes arduous “fly through the rings” levels, devoid of common design sensibility or awareness that such things fell out of favor. If nothing else, Red Wings doesn’t lose its personality in those sorties; it never had one to lose. Brief interspersed comic segments tell no genuine story, just random dialogs with no character to speak of.
Marketing totes the arcade style play and that’s not wrong. But, more akin to those mid-generation Xbox Live Arcade offerings, which also included an update to Red Baron. The latter offered charm and thrills, unlike the competent if ultimately meandering duels in Red Wings. There’s little to see or remember, and core systems never really gel (leveling included, with some like bomb recharges wholly unnecessary).
For a war so often eulogized for its cruelty, Red Wings is uncomfortably upbeat, a halfway point between Snoopy’s antics and say, 1917.