EDIT The top part of this review has been removed due to it being irrelevant, unprofessional, not well thought out, and frankly just really cringy. Fortunately, it was more of an extended intro than review, so nothing should be lost in way of review. I apologize to those who read it; it won't happen again.
What is JASF?
In a sentence, JASF is an arcade style aerial combat game that follows the civil war between North and South
I’m very torn on the graphics. The jets do look great, I’ll give it that. I guess, as was a similar case with Apache: Air Assault, when you're being granted permission to use licensed Boeing military aircraft, they better damn well look amazing. The scenery on the other hand is just okay. Nothing spectacular, but nothing terrible either. The scale seems off though. Your jet appears to be much larger than many of the buildings, but it does help in giving a pretty good sense of speed. That, and when you use your afterburner, the scenery blurs and creates a really neat effect.
The game takes place in the fictional country of
Afghanistan Azbaristan. The country is in the midst of civil war between the North and South. Razor, i.e. you, is a pilot from America “The West” who must lead the South’s attacks on the North in order to reunite the country into one glorious Korea Azbaristan. JASF definitely is much more plot driven than games of this genre usually are. The aerial combat genre usually is just a collection of battles loosely tied together some way. In a way, this one is too, but the plot generally ties together much nicer.
The biggest thing about the plot I want to mention is a question: Are we the bad guys? The entire plot tries to make it look like the North is some evil regime that must be stopped. I never saw that. The closest the game came to that was a speech by the North’s leader saying they will not share their oil and resources with
America The West. How dare they refuse us!? Sounds like they’re in need of some good old fashion democracy. And when the war begins, the South (a.ka. You) makes the first strike. In fact, out of the 16 missions in the campaign, I think only 1, maybe 2, were defending from an attack. Everything else is us attacking them. Why? Because some North defector told the military that the North is building nuclear weapons. Come on, really? Launch a full scale invasion on another country just because some guy claims they have weapons of mass destruction? What stupid country would do that?
The game goes on one mission at a time as you, the Westerner, lead the south’s attacks on “military” targets. This is more of why I feel we’re the bad guys. In one mission in particular, you are tasked with taking out buildings with opposing generals in them. Oh, but they’re not bunkers, oh no. They’re a restaurant and a highrise hotel in the middle of a populated city. I don’t care if there are generals in that hotel, you just killed hundreds of innocent people. But hey, collateral damage. It was necessary for their freedom from those evil, oil hogging Commies. No, we’re definitely the bad guys. It even says here on the back of the box, “lead the fight to reunify Azbaristan and protect the West’s vital interests.” That’s all the proof I need. We’re not fighting this war to in the name of the people’s freedom. We’re fighting it because
Iraq The North has something we Amercinans Westerners want.
The game takes place over the course of 16 missions. Generally, the objectives usually involve taking out vital “military” targets and covering your ground troops. Oh, and not dying. That’s definitely an objective you’ll fail quite often. Admittedly, it’s probably because I played on Hard straight off the runway, but I did die A LOT. There is always something shooting it you. Very rarely you’ll get a moment where you just have to worry about getting to the target, I don’t know if that’s the same on other difficulties, but the achievements were stackable, so I skipped them to get all 3 at once. Despite always having to cover your butt, I actually would recommend you do the same. I’ve played quite a few games of this genre across multiple gaming platforms, and I have to say that “hard” on this game is what it should be. Many flight games have a hard mode that is practically impossible. This one got it right. It is still challenging, but absolutely doable with a little patience. It’s also nice that difficulty doesn’t affect the controls, just the opposition. Plus, the game is super generous with checkpoints. Every objective you complete becomes a checkpoint, whether it was destroy a compound or fly over a village.
The controls aren’t too bad and they’re simple to learn. I did have 2 problems with them though. The first problem is the camera rotation. It rotates fine, but there needs to be a faster way to look behind you. When rockets are constantly being fired at you, you need to be able to see them coming. A simple button press to look behind you would have been nice. By the time you’ve rotated the camera 180 degrees, the enemy pilot took a coffee break, came back with two of his buddies, played a game of Monopoly, and fired three more rockets at you. And then you have to turn around again! The other problem I had was with the afterburner. This gives you a temporary high speed boost. To activate the afterburner, you need to double tap the throttle trigger. Maybe it was just me, but I kept getting it out of sync, as in sometimes it would start boosting after the first tap, causing the second tap to cancel it out. Beyond the controls, I wasn’t too fond of the screen blur and crazy vibrations from being hit. When a rocket inevitable lands a hit on your posterior, the controller vibrates and the screen does a static effect. as mentioned, since there is always something shooting at you, this happens way too often and gets really annoying very quickly. The worst is when anti-aircraft guns are shooting you. This is just a constant barrage of bullets making the screen look like your pilots on one too many cups of coffee. Trying to dodge enemy fire doesn’t seem to help all that much. You can twist and dive all you want; I kept half expecting to see Peppy pop up in the corner at moment.You might dodge a few rockets, but at least one will still hit you every time. Each aircraft comes with flares that redirect targeting missiles, but you don’t get very many, and once they’re gone, you’re in trouble. Luckily they do reload, but it takes a while. In fact, everything reloads. While you only ever have a small handful of rockets, bombs, and flares available at a time, all ammo is unlimited and will reload after a short time. During that down time though, you better make Peppy proud. I guess you could just flee in the other direction, but where’s the glory in that? But if you do decided to turn tail and book it in the other direction while you reload, the game does a pretty good job at portraying a sense of speed, especially with the jets you unlock later in the game. Side note, you do get to make your choice of 30 unlockable jets every time you start a mission (or every time you die in multiplayer), which is nice. Some of the later jets are really quite fast when you engage the afterburner. At one point, I even outran God himself. I hit a spot on the map where all the terrain textures turned black. A few seconds further, they stopped rendering completely. For as it says in the Holy book,
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of waters called Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit,” but in its place, God found an American made, fully loaded F22-Raptor fighter jet. And God said, “Pilot, why have you entered my molding grounds? For here is where I must put forth the grass and the herbs and the fruit bearing trees.” And the pilot said, “My God, I am on a mission of your people to bring peace and harmony, I must locate the demon that resides in this area.” And God said, “Pilot, the Earth is barren and flat. You will not find what you seek on an Earth that is incomplete.” But the pilot was determined. “My God, I will not leave until I have the demon I am after. The people of your great Earth must know the peace my journey will bring.” God saw the pilot would not leave without completing his journey. “Pilot, for your determination I will grant you this achievement. Show it to the people and your journey will be a success.” The pilot stopped to examine his achievement. It was a fine achievement to add to his collection. And while the pilot admired his collection of achievements, God put forth the grasses and raised the mountains. After admiring his achievement, the pilot turned his attention back to the journey where he instantly burst into flames. For where there was once barren land, now lay a mountain of God’s wrath. (JASFosis 1:10-27)
When the landscape actually renders, or if it doesn’t, pausing the game will fix it (just be careful how low to the ground you are lest you face a mountain of God's wrath), the map is huge! Each mission usually takes place primarily in a single county, but unlike other games of the genre where every level is seperate, these are all connected. The entire 40,000 square mile country (according to the box) is flyable. Each mission you play is just the game spawning you in a specific corner of the map. Even though the action takes place in one area at a time, theoretically, you could fly across the entire country if you wanted to.
You can also play the game with other players. The campaign can be done alone or cooperatively online, so if you’re having trouble getting through it, try and get one to three other players on board. Just be aware that just over 900 TAers own this game, so you might have a problem finding players. This is especially an issue when going for the competitive multiplayer achievements. Unfortunately you won’t be able to play “real” matches since there is no one playing this online. Given the game’s rarity, that isn’t surprising. The multiplayer is typical flight multiplayer anyway; dogfighting, a variation of tag, etc. Most games of the genre have similar online modes, so there are other options out there if that’s what you really want.
Difficulty and length
JASF is definitely one of the easier games of the genre. Don’t let that sentence deceive you, this is not going to be a walk in the park; it’s just easier by comparison. Playing on hard mode is really the right difficulty to be playing on, it can just be a little challenging when you’re constantly under fire. But with the generous checkpoints, you should be able to get through the game in a few hours. I beat the campaign over three days, but I imagine you could do it much faster if you really wanted to.
If you’re going to start this game, I highly advise trying to find a boosting buddy beforehand. Almost half the achievements need to be done online, and with a very limited pool of TAers that own this, you could be seeing this on your card incomplete for some time. I was lucky enough to find a partner after two weeks, but my partner had it incomplete for two years. If you do find a buddy, the online ones are easily boostable. Just take turns winning and killing each other for the most part. The rest of the achievements aren’t too bad either. Several are story related, including the secret ones, so if you haven’t looked at the requirements for them yet, I can assure you they are all plot related and therefore can’t be missed. Other achievements require things like taking out enemies with specific weapons X number of times. If you don’t get these by the end, you can just replay level 1 on easy to get them no problem.
JASF isn’t a bad game. It has a questionable plot and few glitches here and there, but it is engaging and beatable without a little time and effort. Oh, and a buddy; you'll need one of those too. It is not a bad game for those looking to enter the aerial combat genre, and it provides much more of a plot than most. While nothing particular makes it a game you need to go out and buy right now, if you like arcade style flyers, you might want to consider it the next time you go bargain game hunting.