The sequel to the Dreamcast flight sim lands on the Xbox deck. It’s a good thing for the Xbox that the only playable game at the Tokyo Game Show was a blast to ride. Airforce Delta II is Konami’s next contribution to the relatively small world of console-based flight sims. Although this sequel to 1999’s Dreamcast game has an amazing visual realism, the gameplay is simple, fast, and fun.

The first thing we noticed about ADII are the similarities, but improvements on the Dreamcast version. The game takes place in real-world environments with planes and enemies from the modern battlefield. The aircraft are modeled perfectly and look exactly like their real-world counterparts, right down to the contrails flowing out of the missiles. The move to the Xbox has brought much higher plane and sky textures to the game, with the clouds and sun glare further adding to the realism.

On the ground players won’t have to put up with the usual smeary textures and low-res bitmaps needed to express the huge distances in flight sims. The trees and buildings we’re fully 3D, and judging by our wayward missiles, could all be easily destroyed. The enemy aircraft and tanks were equally detailed, and judging by the smooth frame rates, we’re guessing the Xbox could handle even more graphical chores such as real-time shadows across the airplanes and more realistic damage and particle effects.

Flying Konami’s unfriendly skies is a snap thanks to the Xbox’s Dreamcast-inspired controller. Players use the analog triggers underneath the pad to speed up or slow down the airplane, and while that sounds simplistic in the extreme, it isn’t quite as simple as driving a car. Going back to the traditional gaming style of run and gun, here comes Plants vs Zombies Heroes. Adapting the new RTS style that we all know, it has produced a new Plants vs Zombies unlimited gems. The left analog stick is used for pitch and roll, and had a very nice touch without much jerkiness. Hopefully the right analog stick could be used for yaw, but given that the game is still in the early stages, we’ll have to wait and see. The A and X buttons on the front face were used for missiles and guns respectively, and as for more countermeasures such as flares and chaff, we’ll have to wait and see.

Konami has not indicated what, if any, connection their will be from Airforce Delta to its sequel. There were only two missions to play at the Tokyo Game Show, so it was impossible to tell just how much overlap there is going to be. Also, we’re hoping the mission briefing screen makes an appearance in the final version, because after we selected our planes in AFDII, we were taken immediately into the action.

The dogfighting felt the same as the Dreamcast version, with a fast, arcade feel. Players won’t have to worry about dropping fuel or ammo to pick up speed, and traditional dogfighting tactics like crossing the T and the Immelman can be pulled off with ease. The HUD did have all the traditional elements of a flight sim, and the game overall had a nice balance between console fun and PC realism.

The Tokyo Game Show version only had five aircraft to choose from, including the reliable F/A-18 Hornet, the F-14 Tomcat, and the A-10 Thunderbolt for those tank-killing runs. In addition to those familiar US fighters, Airforce Delta II also features the S-37 Berkut, and unusual fighter with reverse-mounted wings, and the IDF Chingkua, a twin-engine Taiwanese supersonic beauty.

There is no indication on if or when the game will ship for the Xbox, although it seems pretty clear that it will be a launch title. And given that the game will likely have a solid appeal to console aviators and PC gamers alike, we expect the game to ship in the States as well, although Konami could not confirm that.