Winds of Steel is a WW2 flight sim set in the Pacific Ocean theater. You control the direction and pitch of your aircraft by tilting and turning your phone and tap the on-screen button or the trackball/trackpad to let slip the dogs of war (fire guns and drop bombs).
Tilting the phone forwards of backwards makes the plane dive or climb, and twisting the phone left or right makes it turn in the appropriate direction.
If you pull up hard or bank left or right sharply, an extra directional button will appear on-screen which will allow you to execute a loop-the-loop to get an enemy off your tail, or do a barrell roll to avoid anti-air fire.
The only problem with the control method is that the speed of your plane is constant. There is no option boost your speed or brake as you turn – something which would definitely give you the edge in a dogfight.
In the game you can either play instant action matches (dogfights, bombing runs, naval battles and amphibious assaults) or take part in the main campaign. The campaign takes you through several of the key battles of the Pacific Ocean theater including Pearl Harbor, the invasion (and later the liberation) of Corregidor, and the Battle of Midway.
You get to play missions from both sides, allowing you to pilot famous aircraft including the A6M Zero and the P-51 Mustang. That said, the campaign follows history and is linear in that you always play on the winning side, so to speak. Midway was such a turning point in the war, one of history’s great What Ifs, so it would have been interesting if you had the option to play it from the Japanese side.
The menu music features hits of the period like ‘Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree’ interspersed with whines of radio static and newsreel snippets including clips from US President Roosevelt’s ‘Date of Infamy’ speech. It all adds to the atmosphere of the game.
While there is no in-mission music, the dull drone of the engines and the incessant gun chatter make up for this. When your plane is hit by gunfire, the phone vibrates accordingly, adding to the sense of panic. You can turn the vibrate option off in the settings if you want, but a true flying ace wouldn’t be bothered about such things.
Winds of Steel is a fun flight sim, but we recommend you try out the free demo version first. The demo gives you access to the first two levels (a training mission and Pearl Harbor) and the Dogfight instant action game. These will give you a feel for how the controls of the game work.
Potential future updates we’d love to see for Winds of Steel include the option to rewrite history with full campaigns for both sides and a Wi-Fi co-op or versus mode with friends – yeah we don’t ask for much.
The full version of Winds of Steel is available from the Android Market either in Euros or US Dollars. The version in Euros currently works out slightly cheaper (according to xe.com) so we’d say purchase that one.