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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: December 30, 1998
When the experts in the film industry speak of the heavy hitters, names often become synonymous with their genre: dramatic action with Jerry Bruckheimer, Rob Reiner with comedy, and Wes Craven with horror. The computer game industry is strikingly similar: Richard Garriot with role-playing, John Carmack with action, and Paul Grace with simulations. Grace deserves as much credit as anyone for bringing the realistic combat flight simulator to the masses, as he and his group are responsible for the USNF (U.S. Navy Fighters) series. After numerous titles that included ATF and USNF 97, Grace and company have turned their talents to the historical era, by bringing us WWII Fighters.
With three of the most noted WWII simulations on the market, the competition for your sim dollar is fierce. One advantage that Grace’s team has over everyone else is their knack for creating the complete package. Once you’ve gotten past the trademark Jane’s packaging you’ll find yourself staring at one of the best interfaces ever to hit a computer screen. Navigating through the interface is akin to visiting a WWII aviation museum. Available for viewing in the hangar are the P-38J, Me-262A-1A, P-47D, FW 190A-8, P-51D, Spitfire F. IX and the BF 109G-6. The game takes place in 1944 on the Western Front at the end of the war, during the Battle of Ardennes, also known as the Battle of the Bulge. The selection of aircraft they chose to model is quite fitting.
A Jane’s product in every way, this title is loaded with nostalgia and historical data including a lot of video clips, photographs, 3D models, and even interviews with WWII aces. There are seven different interviews in all, each featuring a different WWII ace pilot talking about the aircraft he flew, and there are even two interviews with German pilots. A closer examination of the interface will lead you to the Info Room, which contains information about the Allied and Axis bombers, the historical background on the Ardennes Offensive and information about the Allied and Axis ground vehicles. Of all the places to visit while exploring the interface the Hangar is my favorite. It houses a true museum showroom with all seven flyable aircraft there to inspect, and even take for a test flight. Once in the Hangar you can pan around to check out the aircraft, and by clicking them you can take a closer look at each one. Each cockpit is beautifully rendered, with narration giving you precise details and information about it.
Like most of Grace’s simulation titles the gameplay is full-featured. There is a kiosk for single missions, campaigns, multiplayer, a mission builder and even quick missions. There are 20 Allied single missions, 15 Axis single missions, and training scenarios for both. The campaign interface allows you to play as an Allied or Axis pilot through the Battle of Ardennes. Multiplayer features support for LAN and Internet; the modem option is surprisingly absent. Online gaming can be played using Janescombat.net, which is gaining in popularity, making it a snap to find gamers willing to play.
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