When Until the Last Plane appeared on my radar (see what I did there?), promising to bring World War II styled airbase management to console, I was pretty excited. You see, while we have seen no end of shoot ‘em up games set in this period, from the seminal 1942 forward, we’ve never seen a game where we have to actually manage an airbase and keep it going through all the trials and tribulations of warfare. 

Coming from developer CarloC and Eastasiasoft, is this the game that I hope it can be, or are we better off going to play with a LEGO City airport? Well, strap on your Biggles flying goggles (it’s not just me that has a pair, right?) and let’s check it out. 

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Now, the story of Until the Last Plane is pretty much non-existent, instead of which we are thrown straight into an airbase and told to get on with it. There is no background information, no choices, save which nation we want to play as (I went with the well known flying aces of Spain initially) but are then dropped straight into a tutorial to try and show us the ropes. 

When I say show us the ropes, what I actually mean is the game kind of says “there are some ropes, they are over there, good luck!”. And that is our introduction to the game. As we go on, it is sort of possible to figure out what happens and what button does what (but not in a coherent way), and so we can get into the meat of the game. 

It’s about at this point in a review where I like to look at the graphics and sound, the basic presentation of the game. And here, I can safely say that there are some graphics, so that’s a bonus. There are two main screens – the overview of the airbase, which is viewed from quite some distance above, so the planes on the ground look almost like Micro Machines; and the second screen is the one where the missions take place. Again, this second screen is viewed from above, with tiny planes trying to either shoot each other down, or found dropping bombs on ground targets. 

Sound? Well, there’s not so much, apart from funny sounding voice overs that may sound like a foreign language if you had never heard one spoken before. You remember when Peter in Family Guy grew a moustache and was convinced he could speak Italian? Yeah, like that. The planes all sound the same too, a dreary drone, whilst the bombs make a nice whistle when you drop them. All in all, the presentation is pretty underwhelming. 

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Do things get better as you begin the fight in Until the Last Plane? Is the gameplay going to shine through and elevate this game from humdrum to awesome? Well, there’s no easy way to say this, but no. No, it’s not. 

Let’s start at the beginning and after we have chosen the nation that we wish to take to war. First off, we have to hire a pilot, and there is a good choice of different people to choose from. Once you have picked the heroes (by looking at a picture of their plane, no portraits here) you can then send one of the pilots out on reconnaissance. What this involves is flying straight and level, working up a vertically scrolling screen, and occasionally pressing a button when something is on the ground that looks like it might be a target. Targets appear to be a collection of boxes, so the graphics are on point. 

Once you have got a target all plumbed in, it is time to select a pilot and send them into combat. Now, there doesn’t seem to be a way to select which mission you are about to set off on (there may be a way to tell, but the button prompts are so small and hard to read that they might as well be in Japanese) and so it is a nice surprise which mission you end up doing. 

For the bombing mission, we fly nice and straight again, and we have a cross hair that I assume we need to centre over the target on the ground. The first press of the A button starts a vertical axis moving around the screen, and a second press locks it in place, before initiating a horizontal axis. Getting both to meet over the target doesn’t seem to do anything, to be honest, but once the bombs are away, you sometimes land okay, and sometimes an enemy aircraft appears and shoots you down before you can avoid it. It’s all a bit, well, random. 

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The other mission focuses on our turn to shoot an enemy down, and we need to first decide how we are going to attack – from above, from below or from directly behind. We then have three manoeuvres to get behind the enemy, and if we are behind them when we both finish moving (the enemy also gets to perform three manoeuvres, and will try to avoid us) then we will shoot them down. Of course, if we aren’t behind them, the pilot will shoot anyway, wasting ammo, before needing to grab a reload back at the airbase. And so, the pilot lands, we reload the plane, repair it if we need to, and the whole sorry process starts up again. 

The main issue with Until the Last Plane, is not the lack of content, to be fair. There are three nations to play as, three different (not very, but the thought is there) campaigns to play through, and each nation has a choice of six different aircraft. The problem is that the Until the Last Plane just isn’t any fun to play. It very much consists of pressing a couple of buttons, shooting down an enemy or being shot down, then landing, pressing a few more buttons, before a rinse and repeat process kicks in. It is, in all honesty, tedious to the extreme, and whilst the bombing mini game is just completely random and imprecise, the combat mini game is like playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with one hand behind your back.

Until the Last Plane takes a concept that should be fun and challenging, but turns it into a recipe for boredom. And that is pretty unforgivable. 

Still, easy achievements, eh?

Until the Last Plane is on the Xbox Store

TXH Score

2/5

Pros:

  • Lots of planes and countries to pick from
  • Easy achievements

Cons:

  • Boring gameplay
  • Indecipherable instructions don’t help with the clarity
  • Mini games are pretty much press and hope

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – Eastasiasoft
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Version reviewed – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – 30 November 2022
  • Launch price from – £8.39

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Source: https://www.thexboxhub.com/until-the-last-plane-review/