During our visit to InfoGamer 2013 in Croatia, I got a chance to try out Wargaming’s recently released World of Warplanes. Wargaming is, of course, best known for World of Tanks (that is coming soon to Xbox 360) and World of Warplanes doesn’t stray far from what made it predecessor such a success. However, it does manage to carry the franchise to all new heights.

Being a seasoned gamer, I skipped training and immediately jumped into a standard battle, flying a German fighter plane. The goal was pretty simple – destroy all the enemy airplanes or gain supremacy by damaging enemy ground units (controlled by the A.I.). Surprisingly, I managed to last most of the fight and even took down an enemy plane and one ground target. It could be because I’m simply a natural born aviator, but I suspect it might be something else.

You see, just like World of Tanks, World of Warplanes is very easy to just pick up and play: the controls are very simple and intuitive and there’s not a lot you need to do know to master the basics of aerial combat – aim, shoot and hope for a kill.

Of course, I didn’t get far with that attitude. WoWP might be easy to get into (probably even more so if you stick with the training), but if you want to really dominate the sky you’ll have to work hard, even if you’re a veteran WoT player. After all – flying an airplane is different than driving a tank. Forget for a minute the whole new dimension it opens up; flying is faster, more intense and leaves very little room for error.

That is exactly what I experienced with World of Warplanes – fast and intense dogfights that always ended with a fiery (if a but unsatisfying) crash, usually my own.

If you want to avoid a similar fate and not end up as a digital pile of twisted metal on a hillside somewhere, you’ll have to stick with your squadron. Flying solo meanings you’re an easy target for enemy players, who won’t hesitate to gang up on a lonely flyer. It’s good to have at least one other friendly plane nearby to help you shake those bogeys on your six.

The only time I felt lost was outside of battle. While the gameplay itself is very friendly and accommodating to new users, the same cannot be said about the menus and customization options. Getting into an online match is is as simple as clicking a button, but upgrading your planes and researching new technology can be a bit too overwhelming: the amount of information on the screen may be appreciated by airplane-enthusiasts but for the casual gamer, who just wants to a few short rounds of intense combat, it could be quite off-putting.

Still, I had plenty of fun shooting down planes (and getting shot down) at InfoGamer 2013 in Croatia. World of Warplanes is available now to for free on the PC – check it out.

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