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The mission builder feature, which has been a Grace signature, allows for creation of your own missions, and it is a little less complex version of the builder you’d find in Janes F-15. I spent a long time creating and flying my own missions, and even shared them with some friends and flew multiplayer cooperatively. It’s a great feature that surely gives this product an advantage over its competitors. With all of these features and gameplay types you’re probably wondering how the actual game plays. From a visual perspective WWII Fighters is unmatched, using the most advanced 3D graphics engine you’ll find in a combat simulation this holiday season. Dynamic lighting, fog, amazing 3D clouds, cockpit lighting, and some of the best colored lighting around make this a spectacular show for sure. With support for Direct3D and 3Dfx boards the game is up to date with technology. Be warned, however: at the higher resolutions you’ll need some hefty hardware to pull off faster framerates.
Perhaps the single greatest achievement in this title is the 3D cockpits. With an interface that supports full free viewing in gameplay by simply moving the mouse, no other simulation ever has made better use of the cockpit. Instruments are 3D, easy to read, and you’ll have a hard time telling them apart from the real thing.
Aside from the wonderful visuals and equally impressive interface the flight modeling is weak when compared to its chief competitor European Air War. The planes don’t handle as well as they do in EAW and they don’t spin or stall as easily at they should, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were trying to simulate total realism. That’s not to mean that the game isn’t fun, because it is. It’s one of the most enjoyable WWII simulations on the shelves, because it looks and sounds great, and has more gameplay types than any game in town.
The high points of the game are many, as it offers perhaps one of the best damage models ever as well. A tremendous amount of different parts fly off the planes and you can take different degrees of damage before the plane becomes unflyable. Propellers bend and can fly off, gear can be damaged by landing too hard and the entire fuselage can take different degrees of visual damage before it catches fire and hurtles toward the ground.
The missions are a blast to play, because they fill the air and ground with loads of targets, and this is by far the prettiest looking combat simulation I’ve played this year. I am, however, quite dismayed that they only modeled seven planes, when the competition is sporting 20 flyable aircraft featuring force feedback support and more realistic flight modeling. With the full amount of options, including the mission builder and the ability to fly any of the single missions cooperatively in multiplayer, you won’t be disappointed with this game, but it doesn’t have the the dynamic campaigns or realism that European Air War offers.
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