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Review

WWII Fighters [PC]

March 12, 2009

Dug up from the remnants of last century here’s WWII Fighters, a game that serves to remind me that people’s lives should not be put in my hands. Released in 1998 by a quaint group called Jane’s Combat Simulations, evidently owned by Electronic Arts. Granted that’s not saying much as it seems EA owns every independent developer, game, console, toy, piece of fruit if it could potentially be used to kill people, gun, WMD, sport…. in fact they own the whole concept of what you would believe to be, fun.

Flight Simulation Games haven’t been something that really intrigued me. If i wanted realism I’d live my life. I guess here’s where the apparel of Simulation Games comes in as i dawned the DeLorean and travelled back to 1944 in which i was a pilot on the Western Front.

I discovered straight away that i wouldn’t be hearing “HIIIIIIIGHWAY TOOO THE DANGERRRRRZONEEEEE…” at any point, apparently that’s not realistic, which is something taken seriously by Simulation Games. I was pleasantly pleased though as the whole game has swing and jazz music playing throughout it. Bring back Glenn Miller, Jack Teagarden and Bix Beiderbeike. The opening Title Video blew me away, it was great fun to watch and one of the only ones I’ve seen recently that wouldn’t have you reaching for the Skip Cutscene button.


The menus are very unique, with everything based around a Museum, you literally traverse the rooms to access options, game modes, mission builders, or info on the various planes and ground vehicles. And when I say info, I mean something that rivals most encyclopaedias. Half the game memory must be taken up with just text and videos about the aircraft. The menus are very very shiny though, to the point where i got distracted with game options because they looked like technical toggle switches and dials and knobs.


Be it single player campaign, single mission, quick mission, multiplayer via network or online, every mission is outlined on a map before you start flying. Campaign missions provide full motion videos to tie plot lines together. You get to play both sides as well, giving you full freedom to roam the stories from both sides, or if you want, make your own mission with way-points, objectives and targets.


Dust of the joystick, Let’s go flying! Take down some bogies! Why aren’t I moving? Apparently just pushing my throttle up doesn’t make me go anywhere. The 3 R’s of Simulation Games! Realism! Realism! Realism! Consult Keyboard Map. E to turn the engines on, F for flaps, B to take break off, push the throttle up, turn and take off. G for gear. Sweet, we’re in the air!


The Controls feel like you’re actually flying a big heavy aircraft the inertia which on more than one occasion meant I couldn’t pull up when I needed to, bombing runs don’t include outrunning the bomb you’ve dropped to the target. Granted dogfights above the countryside become intense, flipping about trying to pick off enemy planes is an adrenalin pumper. However keeping with realism you can stall, blackout, whiteout, run out of ammo, run out of fuel, jam your flaps, jam your landing gear, loose engines, loose oil pressure, loose your mind trying to understand what everything does and why am I falling out of the air.


Apparently you need a working propeller to fly. Once you get the hang of it though, go shooting down enemy planes, bomb bridges, battalions and various other vehicles in your quest to dominate the skies. The cockpit graphics are beautiful though the rest is showing its age. The game feels slightly limited by the fact that there’s only 7 different planes you can fly, but with all the mission variety it balances itself out.

The hardest thing is learning to fly. Gamers aren’t born natural pilots, and as much as the game offers tutorials on flying, sometimes the instructions flash so briefly on the screen you can’t catch a thing it said. If you have the keyboard map open at the same time as the game then you get the hang of things. You can select what you have on your HUD however there’s no Radar so following enemies gets a little tricky with the keystrokes sometimes required. This is what confuses me, the game claims a key feature is the fact that “No radar or missiles means easy to fly and easy to shoot.” I would of imagined it made it harder. Granted this all being said I’m not a Simulation Game enthusiast and i imagine if I was then I’d understand and appreciate the level of realism the game has put the effort into maintaining.

So there’s WWII Fighters, the best way to prove to yourself whether you should actually be a pilot or not.