As the follow-up to World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks, 3DO's WarJetz brings mayhem to the skies in a no-holds-barred dog-fighting competition. As the member of a cutthroat gang, you'll blast rival pilots and collect major "bux" en route to your own personal shot at the WDL championship. In addition to the wacky premise, five two-player modes, eight aircraft, 28 different arenas, and a lengthy single-player campaign, the game offers nearly unlimited hours of enjoyment--if only the game itself were as good as its options.
First and foremost, the flight system in this version of WarJetz is far more complicated than it needs to be, which is remarkable considering that it has even fewer flight controls than the PS2 port. The D-pad adjusts bank and pitch, while the L2 and R2 buttons adjust throttle speed. The X and circle buttons fire your aircraft's primary and secondary weapons, while the square and triangle buttons cycle through the available weapons list. For some reason, the strafing/bombing toggle and ECM countermeasures are bound to the L1 and R2 buttons, which makes it quite easy to confuse them with the throttle controls or just forget them altogether. Either possibility is equally common, especially since steering response is so oversensitive that you'll usually be too busy veering away from walls to ever swap targeting styles or fire ECMs.
If you can acclimate to the Quasimodo-style controls, WarJetz's underlying gameplay is mostly pleasurable. Each aircraft offers two methods of targeting--strafing and bombing--as well as a variety of basic and advanced weapon types, such as machine guns, lasers, missiles, and cluster bombs. Power-ups, such as shields, health, afterburners, nukes, and weapon upgrades, also litter the landscape for your benefit. Since it costs money to replace an aircraft that's been shot down, keeping a watchful eye on your armor meter and snagging those health upgrades is a wise strategy. Oddly enough, there are no options for barrel rolls, 180-degree turns, or loops--three features that exemplified the PlayStation 2 release and are often common in the majority of 3D combat shooters.
Control issues and gameplay omissions aside, WarJetz's worst feature is its visuals. Although arenas are located in snowy, dilapidated, or dangerous postapocalyptic locations, they aren't very large or well populated, which greatly limits the amount of excitement you'll glean from property damage. On top of that, the fog and draw-in line are so close that you never really get a chance to enjoy the scenery, especially since hills, buildings, and enemy aircraft pop in as if magically summoned from the land of make-believe. The game's lone bright spot is the aircraft models, which are large, highly detailed contraptions with all sorts of nifty smoke trails, light sources, and explosion effects.
All in all, the majority of solo pilot wannabes will want to avoid WarJetz. Those looking for a fun, albeit somewhat flawed, two-player dog-fighting game may sing a different tune, however, as the game's forgiving physics and plentiful mode choices make it a good choice for casual weekend competition.