Red Baron
| Red Baron

Those wonderful men in their flying machines, eh? And back in the First World War they were at their most wonderful, taking to the skies in aircraft that were little more than a canvas-covered wooden kite with an engine fitted.

Armour? Nope. Cockpit canopy? You wish. Ejector seat? Only if you climbed over the side.

It's this death-or-glory atmosphere that pervades Red Baron, which is set during the conflict of 1914 to 1918. Despite the title, you play as a plucky young upstart in the fledgling RAF and must do your bit in defeating the marauding German army.

This involves dogfighting aplenty, as well as the occasional bombing run, as you add your contribution to the efforts of your ground-pounding comrades. The missions see you indulging in one or both of these endeavours, sometimes as you accompany a column of tanks and sometimes on a solo raid.

As you might figure, there's not a huge amount of variation on offer, so it'll come as a relief to hear that the action is actually quite entertaining. Thanks to the simple controls, you'll be rolling and looping-the-loop in no time as you fend off the Hun. You bank left and right using your phone's directional pad, and accelerate and decelerate, too. You can fire by pressing '5' and drop a bomb with '3'. Easy peasy.

Where the challenge comes from is the enemy intelligence and the sheer number of opponents. Not only are there half-a-dozen enemy planes out to get you at times, there are blimps and ground forces, too. These include artillery pieces that are more than capable of defending themselves, adding to the excitement.

The battlefield is spacious (though you're confined to a rectangular area), being several screens wide and tall. It's detailed and looks great, with villages, trees, craters roads and railways, and there's life going on below you. Flocks of birds fly across the screen and first-aid trucks rumble across the landscape.

This indigenous population doesn't play much of a role in Red Baron, aside from looking pretty, but neither does it slow things down. Scrolling smoothly, it really does let you concentrate on battling the enemy planes without any distracting load times or jitteryness.

You'll need to concentrate, as your opposing numbers aren't there to merely show up and be shot down. You'll need to fight smartly, too – though you can return to your base for fuel and bombs, you can't renew your health.

To improve your chances you can always brush up your skills in the Dogfight game mode that accompanies the satisfying Campaign mode. This lets you loose over a map that you've completed in Campaign mode to fight against as many opponents as you think you can. This mode would have been brilliant if it had enabled you to go up against your Bluetooth-equipped chums, like Bluetooth Biplanes, but alas it's not to be.

Without the multiplayer mode that would have unquestioningly added greater longevity, Red Baron is just about fun enough to recommend to fans of both arcade-style shooters and more casual gamers.

Red Baron

Fast and furious flyboy action, Red Baron's not quite an ace but it's on its way there