LucasArts Air Combat Classics (DOS)

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Written by  :  Christopher Reilly (4)
Written on  :  Jan 19, 2004
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
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A challenging early introduction to AI in combat simulation software

The Good

My son and I were years apart in age back in 1991 (and still are, of course except that I'm still a big kid), but we really enjoyed the challenge of flying so many different aircraft in varied combat missions. The aircraft are performance-oriented to engine capability, climb-rate, stalls, spins, and take damage that affects flight control surfaces. Great instrument panels and working switches! I loved putting the B-17 in auto-pilot mode and being a gunner, but don't stay away from the cockpit too long. And the Bombardier position was very well done.

The ability to fly for Germany, England, or USA was really cool.

All keyboard controls were easy to learn. The views were great for realistic feel. The P-51 came in different versions, and the P-40, my God, what a tough aircraft, but like flying a bulldozer.

The Bad

The graphics were early video card, and were pretty good for the time, but wouldn't this version be superb with the types of graphics available today with Medal of Honor, for instance? It took quite awhile to set up flights, and plan the missions for the campaign mode, however, this may not bother detail-oriented people. The AI could have been more ruthless, but turn on the "Ace" pilot version of adversary level of skill, and the AI would tear the holy heck out of your bomber formations and your fighter squadron in one pass!!! . . .So much for the Flying Combat Box formation or wingman protection.

The Bottom Line

Incredible realism in campaign mode. Just try to survive 12 or more missions in the B-17 while putting out engine fires and feathering props! You'd be lucky to get back in one piece while almost out of fuel. The White Cliffs of Dover were a welcome sight. The very real odds of not getting through the war as an airman, for either side, were very well interfaced into the games's sense of realism. You do get shot down, have to bail out, and crash.