Daily iPad App: Sid Meier's Ace Patrol is an excellent game sold badly

My birthday was last week on May 6, and Firaxis must have heard about that because in recent weeks they've released not one, but two great turn-based strategy games. First, Haunted Hollow was released as a great, original free-to-play title, and now the legendary Sid Meier (of Civilization and Pirates) has released a game called Ace Patrol, available as a free download on iOS.

Ace Patrol is excellent -- it's a turn-based dogfighting game, where you manuver pilots in WWII around a battlefield, climbing, diving and swooping around into position all while trying to accomplish certain goals or take out the other side. Progression in the game is marked by "maneuvers," so pilots who have leveled up have access to more and advanced moves. Weapons fire for free, but you've got to line up closely to the enemy, preferably behind them, to avoid any incoming attacks.

Unfortunately, as good as the game itself is, Firaxis really missed the mark on this one's freemium plan. The in-app purchases on Ace Patrol are just plain confusing -- you can play through a number of missions for free, but then when you spend some money to unlock the rest of the missions, you (currently -- I'll bet this is fixed soon) don't get to keep your progress. Additionally, while in-app purchases give you access to other nations, you also sometimes need to pay to get your lost pilots out of being captured. Fortunately, there are "superpacks" you can buy (which essentially open up the game's content), but the whole scheme just isn't well-thought-out. Haunted Hollow's IAP was clear and well-designed, but the same care hasn't been taken here, unfortunately.

Still, Ace Patrol is an excellent game, a very well-designed set of battles put together by a master game developer. There are quite a few of these turn-based battle simulations to go around (Leviathan Warships is another recently released variant, though that one takes place on sea and is more complicated than Ace Patrol), but Ace Patrol does an excellent job of combining really deep strategy with easy and accessible gameplay. Grab this free download right away for sure.