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Jane's Combat Simulations: WWII Fighters (Windows)

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Written by  :  Maury Markowitz (226)
Written on  :  Mar 30, 2007
Rating  :  3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars

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Summary

Not bad, but not playtested very well

The Good

When Jane's WWII came out it was lost in the European Air War release, but was nevertheless a worthy game on its own. The graphics were the best that had been seen up to that point, and there game also featured a fairly "immersive" environment with various gameplay flourishes that really improved the experience as a whole. For instance, when missions started you didn't simply appear inside your plane, but approached it in a spiraling-in effect that was quite cinematic. Voices and sound effects likewise dramatically improved the overall feeling of the game.

The game itself was also fairly well thought out. The missions cover the Battle of the Bulge, which rages on below you. The game really comes into its own on ground attack missions, when you can fly over vehicles and infantry on the ground. This was all very well done.

The flight simulation physics itself was marginal, but playable. Damage was particularly well thought out, as was the various effects like gunfire, flak, fires and explosions. Again, this added to the overall cinematic effect of the game.

The Bad

The real problem with Jane's is that the game consists of a series of unconnected missions with no "campaign". Playing as the allies you start in a P-38, and then move to P-51's and Spitfires as the missions progress. It's quite alarming to suddenly hear your voice come out with a rolling British accent after playing several missions as a Yank. There's no continuity, so if this is something you value (as I do), Jane's will disappoint.

Another oddity is that the missions are sometimes impossible, which is particularly glaring considering that the game itself appears very well tested. For instance, in one mission as the Germans you have to bomb a building, leading a flight of three Me 262's. Now the 262 is built for speed and nothing else, so the only way to finish this mission is to simply fly right at your target, bomb it, and then leave. So when you get bounced by the inevitable P-51's and your squad-mates immediately turn to dogfight them -- leaving their bombs on the rails BTW -- they get shot down and that leaves you. Your bombs are not enough to destroy the target. So basically there's no way to complete this mission, and you're forced to skip it.

Another complaint, although minor, is that the game consists of the immediate area around the battlefield, and that's that. Everything's hard-wired by the mission designers, so if you just go and fly off to look around, there's nothing to see. This is a problem with pretty much every sim, I fault them all on this one. More obvious, though, is that the total number of objects is fairly small, so you don't have large air battles like those in EAW.

The Bottom Line

Of the three "1999 sims", Jane's is definitely the best looking, and overall it's pretty fun to play. But if you're looking for depth in your sims, or sweeping battles with lots of planes, Jane's is likely to disappoint.