Blast through plane filled skies as you play with up to 32 other players on a single map in War Thunder. This online game is quick, fast, and has plenty of variations and options that will be sure to keep you happy regardless if you are an arcade style flyer or a hardcore realistic-physics dogfighting junkie. The game's various modes of play suit a wide range of playstyles and the wide selection of planes (over 100 to choose from) means that there will always be something new to try no matter how long you have been playing.
And as if flying around World War 2 era planes was not enough, the game also has other vehicles such as tanks for land and naval ships for the seas –turning skirmishes into massive firefights. War Thunder - http://www.warthunder.com/ supports keyboard and mouse controls as well as joysticks for customized gameplay and it is also compatible with Oculus Rift.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII is Ubisoft's answer to Ace Combat, and in some ways, it manages to work as an alternative with its arcade style flying and the straight-to-combat game delivery. Of course, it still does not have the polish of Namco's flight sim/dogfighting top game. Either way, Squadrons of WWII lives up to its title by delivering a World War II themed aerial combat shootfest as players take on war torn skies across Europe.
There are amazingly well designed stages set in familiar iconic locations and more than enough hostile bogeys to keep you busy regardless of where you end up in. The combat feels natural and instinctive, though some planes feel a little too clunky at times, the over experience feels exhilarating. For an old game, Blazing Angels has managed to age decently well and is still worth playing if you have access to it.
World of Warplanes
Free to play has hit the realm of dogfighting and this gaming experience shares one of the most distinct commonalities of other F2P titles: pay more, win more. There's no sugarcoating that notion: after all, developers have to earn and the best incentive for players to plop down some cash is to give them an edge to win.
That said, it is completely possible to play this game - http://www.worldofwarplanes.com/ (and its sister-game, World of Tanks - http://www.worldoftanks.com/, completely free). And that's pretty good since players can actually try out the experience before deciding if they want to invest in it –and if you do play both, we encourage the premium status that doubles the earned credits and experience points.
The game itself is pretty impressive and holds it's own against other plane combat games. Having game lobbies that can host up to 30 players and have a minimal lag kind of game is a pretty good experience considering the fact that everyone is flying around the skies at high speeds shooting at each other and having the fastest response time can mean victory or defeat. While plane performance accuracy is completely out the window, the basic tier system does eke out some easy to gauge stats for the planes – allowing players to gauge the relative combat strength of teams (of course, player skills notwithstanding).
IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad
Arguably one of the most ambitious flightsim games ever made, IL-2 Sturmovike: Battle of Stalingrad takes the massive Soviet campaign against Germany and turns it into a massive gaming affair. The gameplay is simple, you choose a basic campaign scenario then the game will dynamically generate events and objectives for you to follow until you reach victory. Combat will be held above the skies of a virtually re-created Stalingrad and it is a massively huge stage. There are mountains, bases, fields, and plenty of terrain detail as far as the eye can see (and since you are flying hundreds of feet up in the air, your horizon will be quite vast). Troops will be charging on the ground and in the skies, and players have a multitude of tasks and objectives to achieve.
Making things even more interesting is the enemy AI. Designed to be one of the most advanced ever made, hostile planes will constantly try to seek the player out in order to fight them. Controls are mostly simplified, coming close to the range of an arcade style flier; but the amount of maneuvers that you will be performing will be akin to the repertoire of a long time hardcore flightsim player. All of that just because the enemy is really that advanced. The game also allows for multiplayer combat, and it certainly does not scale down the appeal: up to 64 players can connect to a single game so expect the skies to be full, frantic, and fun.
Wings of Prey
There is a very satisfying feeling when you shoot at an enemy plane and actually see the bullet holes riddled all over your target's frame. Wings of Prey lets you do that and more –and watching as the enemy plane slowly fall apart (and you literally fly past the pieces you shot at) is nothing short of beholding. Sure, the experience does feel a little visceral, but when there are literally several dozens of enemy aircraft sharing the same skies as you, every bogey shot down is a massive step towards victory.
Wings of Prey is a sequel to IL-2 Sturmovik - http://il2sturmovik.com/ (the console title of this game is actually IL-2 Birds of Prey) and as such, carries much of the good things that made the original game pretty fun to play. Of course, things are now much better in this sequel with its improved graphics and more intense gameplay.
Jane's F/A-18 Simulator
When it comes to old school flight simulators, no other game series is as much loved and respected by gamers as the Jane's series. And of these games, it is Jane's F/A-18 Simulator that gets the most love. Arguably, Jane's Longbow series has a much better engine and game system, but that's a sim for helis, not jet fighters; and that is why the F/A-18 Sim manages to stand out.
The game features a full campaign mode, all the little details that makes flying difficult in real life, and a ton of audio content that makes it well worth learning about aeronautical radio jargon (sadly, the game's humongous manual fails to cover this bit). The game adds in two useful bit of technology like the Horizontal Situation Display and the Situational Awareness Display which makes figuring things out a little bit easier.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X 2
Designed heavily for players with online access and friends to play cooperatively with, H.A.W.X. 2 is a fun, and yet, really unbalanced game. Much like the original title, this sequel brings players to another alternate-future earth that links up several tom Clancy game title, in fact, those who have played the other games will find a few of the pop-up screens a little amusing with the cameos. Those completely new to the series will not have as much to appreciate outside of the fairly decent storyline.
Going back to the online coop-mode, many of the game's later stages are pretty difficult to play on solo, which means that those of you hoping for an improvement of the original game are up for a massive disappointment. That is unless you have friends to play the game with. Connecting online with three other buddies will most of the campaign stages into fun flying exercises, though having a full roster of wingmen for several missions in a row will require plenty of real-world logistics.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X
Featuring an impressive campaign that has well over 9 hours of gameplay (give or take a few), futuristic planes, and a rocking soundtrack, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is a fairly impressive arcade-like flyer that has plenty of great things going for it. Players take to the skies above many familiar sights across the world as they face off against Artemis, a private military company with some rather dodgy objectives.
The combat is fast paced, and while the visualization of speed and much of the finer details of the scenery is not that polished, you will be a little too busy dealing with enemy targets to actually care. Thankfully, as frantic as the action can get, it never feels impossible. The game is loaded with plenty of stuff that makes a lot of things easier such as the a prediction system for your targeting reticule (which makes the cannons easier to use) and the ERS system that literally turns missile based dogfighting combat into a child's play. If there was ever a game designed to make players feel as if they can easily dominate the skies, then this is it.
Going back to the Sino-American side of conflict, Battlestations Pacific returns to familiar ground, though this time providing players with insight to both side of the war. Very few games have a Japanese campaign alongside an American campaign, which makes this a new experience for most. Narrative aside, the battles are nothing short of intense. This is particularly true during the first playthrough. Thankfully, the game is a little forgiving, and it is not uncommon for players to find unorthodox ways of being able to turn the tide around despite having tough odds.
This RTS-slash-combat simulator game has players in charge of both individual craft and of entire fleets. The story progression helps with learning the mechanics, so getting the hang of the game is made fun and exciting.
War is massive affair that consists of many small yet critical battles that eventually affect the larger outcome, and in Battlefield Midway, players can get to see how these battles took place in the Pacific during the Second World War. From the assault on Pearl Harbor to the retaliatory attacks on East Asia, the campaign is interspersed with dramatic storytelling (the use of wartime clips and footage certainly bring out a sense of history).
With warships, subs, and various planes at their disposal, players are able to take the battle as both a fleet commander in the game's RTS mode, and at the same time, have the option to manually control a specific craft.