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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: November 28, 1998
World War II sims appeal to me more than any other type of flight simulation. I tend to play only the major release modern day simulators, because most of the time I find the dogfighting and gunfire exchange to be too sophisticated and fast to be fun. Having planes that can shoot down an enemy from two miles away is a great thing for me as a civilian, but the game player in me wants something a little more tangible, something I can feel, something I can reach out and touch. For the last few years it seems like all there’s been to choose from has been the modern warfare sim, F-22 this and F-22 that, kind of boring if you ask me. After two years of suffering, luckily the drought has ended, and the historical feast has begun.
The first course on my plate is the follow-up to one of my favorite simulations of all time. In 1994 Microprose released a wonderfully accurate and fun simulation called 1942: Pacific Air War. It was a second generation WWII sim that made leaps beyond the previous benchmark game, Aces over the Pacific from Dynamix. Three years later we are finally rewarded with a sequel, and get to see what’s been going on across the other ocean, with Microprose’s European Air War (EAW). Obviously as the title states EAW focuses on the European theatre, specifically the Battle of Britain and the Allied Mainland War, almost the entire length of the war.
There are over 100 missions that begin in early 1940 that progress all the way through the war in 1945. Players can fly for three different nations in single player missions, pilot career mode, and in multiplayer, these include: the German Luftwaffe, the Royal British Air Force, and the Allied United States Army. For those of you familiar with 1942:PAW, you’ll definitely see some similarities. I’m not sure how to explain it, but there is a certain familiarity with the game engine and flight model if you’ve played the previous game, and even though that experience is three years old, I still consider that a good thing.
The main element of gameplay is flying, specifically dogfighting. Each of the planes are very detailed, especially in flight modeling and there are an enormous amount of them to choose from, twenty overall. Each plane, whether it be a bomber or fighter, flies, handles, and fights differently. I’ve played so many other old-plane simulations where one plane flies pretty much like all the others — not here. There are six American planes to fly, which includes the stalwart P-51 Mustang. I love to fly that plane, but to my surprise I found the German Fw-190D to be more my style and liking. Also even though my tendencies lead to only a few planes, the campaigns will do an excellent job of allowing you to experience them all. There is a wealth of gameplay within this title, and a fair number of features that make this a worthy sibling to one of the better flight sims ever made.
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