Fighter Squadron: The Screamin' Demons over Europe
Description official descriptions
Fighter Squadron: The Screamin' Demons Over Europe is a WWII flight simulator where you can fly a selection of ten different US, British and German fighters and bombers in a series of 30 missions over Dover, the heart of Germany, or North Africa. You can play the missions for either side, man any of the aircraft, as well as change positions inside the bombers to man the guns and bombsight.
It also allows the users to add their own planes, vehicles and missions via a text-based plug-in format called OpenPlane. Every part of the aircraft is individually listed in its OpenPlane file and can be edited - you can change the power of the engines for instance, or the distance the various gun turrets can traverse.
Credits (Windows version)
150 People (128 developers, 22 thanks) · View all
|Graphics / Artwork (Aircraft)|
|Documentation / Design|
|Project Management / Programming|
|Artwork / Aircraft (Pre-Production)|
|Documentation / Design (Pre-Production)|
|Senior VP Studios|
|Marketing Product Manager|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 71% (based on 18 ratings)
Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 6 ratings with 2 reviews)
The capabilities to add new weapons planes, vehicles, boats, ships, terrains and infinite elements in the gameplay! The Open Plane issue let all players free to become a 'modder' - building your own planes and skins!
The lack of support from the developers - oh well, it's a constant in any game isn't? But, once more the Open Plane engine have the solution for this problem ;)
The Bottom Line
Welcome to a parallel world - if you like flight combat that is your home now :) The best Flight Model I've seen in years - after 3 years this game still alive and kicking!
Windows · by Killer-Ants (2) · 2002
I'll start by saying I'm a flight sim junkie, and have been since the Apple II days. I prefer a quality simulation - one with good physics - over anything. So this is pretty much the game for me, as I suspected when I first heard Parsoft was working on it.
You see, Parsoft has a long history of making games who's physics go beyond what anyone else was doing at the time. Their first effort was Hellcats Over the Pacific way back in '91, and it was way ahead in terms gameplay, sound, graphics, everything. I don't mean a little ahead either, I mean WAY AHEAD. They followed that up with the equally groundbreaking A-10 Attack, which added the best physics of any sim I'd played, and the best mission-map/mission-planning engine I'd seen (the later is still the best even now, five years later).
So when they started talking about the new WWII sim they were working on, I knew it was going to be something I needed to have ASAP. But I couldn't, because the game kept slipping, and slipping, and slipping. And slipping. And then the Mac version was killed, leaving only the Windows one. And then it slipped some more.
By the time it was finally released in 1999 it was already two years overdue, and was now trailing Jane's WWIIF and European Air War into an overcrowded market. So today this is one of the least known sims, a problem that certainly wasn't helped by Activision's non-existent marketing.
Too bad too, because in many ways it's exactly what I suspected it would be. It's the most realistic simulation of flight you can get. Yeah, I know all about Rowan's stuff, all about MS's series, I've played them all. Not one comes close to simulating the real feeling of flight like Fighter Squadron -- not even close.
The planes simply work like they should. They feel real. They bob and weave in the air as they get blown around. They ground-loop if you take off downwind. They stall and spin and generally behave badly if you push them. That's what planes are like, and yes, I do say that as a real pilot.
In addition the game includes a damage model that allows for very realistic effects. Wings can get shot off a part at a time, leaving you with a plane that "kinda" flies. Wheels break off if you land too hard, leaving you skidding down the runway. Everything's there.
Another nice touch is that every position in multi-crew planes can be manned. So if you're flying a bomber you can jump into the gunner positions and blast away. That can be a lot of fun, especially in the poorly armed planes like the Ju 88. Sadly the engine does not allow for multiple people to man a single plane in net games.
Graphics are only so-so. The game has the best looking clouds I've seen, and the flak bursts (using the same basic system) look nice too. But many other parts of the system aren't really up to the high level that Janes set. Terrain can be annoying in particular, it often has blurry roads from a low-res tile leading into the end of a sharp high-res town. Textures on the planes themselves are only OK as well, not bad certainly, but just not best-of-breed.
Now add to this that all of the above details are controlled through an open file system called OpenPlane. You can study the files that ship with the game and edit them to create your own planes - or anything else, trucks, tanks, AA guns, etc. This is where the game simply lept ahead of everything else, it was designed from the get go for the end users to change it. Sure you CAN change EAW, but it's certainly not easy to do.
OpenPlane was the saving grace of this game. Since it's release over two years ago, the game community has added a tremendous variety of add-ons. New terrain, mission packs, all sorts of new planes and vehicles, and many fixes to the ones that came included.
In fact the game community has taken that one step further recently, releasing their own patches to the code itself. Not only have numerous bugs been fixed, but it also added OpenGL support, doppler sound effects, and allows for 1024x1024 textures - at which point it looks as good as Janes, if not better.
Sadly this game was dumbed down for release. The planes that actually shipped on the CD had super-easy flight models that refused to stall, apparently because of user feedback. It was also clearly rushed. Much of the power of the OpenPlane system was left unexplored, so things like engine damage or the pilot getting shot were simply left out of the models.
There are also any number of little problems in the physics engine. For instance:
- coming to a rest on the water makes you blow up, which is pretty annoying
- bombs were far too powerful as a result of incorrect code calculating their blast effects
- engines don't have any performance curves, there's no way to simulate supercharging
- jets are just little tiny invisible props
- there's no way to simulate compression effects
Parsoft was famous for their attention to detail so it's hard to believe they simply "forgot" about them. They seem to be side effects of the rush to ship. Some of them have since been addressed by OpenPlane users doing some absolutely amazing tricks, but it would be nice to have these right in the engine (I should point out again that even without them, it's still by far the best physics engine out there).
There is one very serious issue however: the terrain. Maps consist of a 40x40 mile tile. That's right, no rolling terrain here! In fact it's possible to fall off the side of the world before even climbing to altitude, which drives me absolutely nuts. The system doesn't allow for loading tiles on the fly (except for the textures on them of course) so they simply picked a size that was big enough to fly in and small enough not to hog memory and CPU. This is a total cop-out in my opinion, one that results in utterly bogus maps where everything is really close to each other. This is the one thing I really can't stand at all.
The game included 30 missions which is OK, and you can play every one from any plane or position (missions all include US, British and German planes, so you can choose to fight as anyone). Also the missions are just plain fun, you fire them up and start fighting! But no concept of a history, and certainly no branching or anything. This isn't a really bad thing, because I've played tons of flight sims where the "dynamic campaign" was too annoying to use (MiG Alley for instance), but I can't help but dream of a modern sim with Red Baron's campaign engine.
The Bottom Line
If you're into flight sims, this is possibly the best one ever. If the terrain issue ever gets fixed it will be basically untouchable.
Windows · by Maury Markowitz (266) · 2001
Fighter Squadron supports the "OpenPlane" format that allows complete mods of the game, from terrain, to plane, to aerodynamics, and more. There are WW1 mods for FS, among other uses.
It is possible to rip off a wheel if you land too hard, and the wheel will keep rolling until it is out of momentum.
In certain circumstances a rainbow appears over southern England.
Information also contributed by Kasey Chang
Related Sites +
Another site with a large collection of utilities and files. Most notable for it's collection of "skins" for aircraft.
Activision's Fighter Squadron page
Activision produced Fighter Squadron, and thus have their own page on the game. Basically dead for some time now, it nevertheless has high speed access for the 1.5 patch - a must have.
Fighter Squadron Information Center
Created and maintained by the original development team, this is the place to start for FS information and is the "most official" home page for the game.
Lector's Fighter Squadron Section
Lots of help files, downloads, screenshots, links and more! One of the best fan sites out there.
MacPlay was purchased by the same people who ended up with the Parsoft development team. Since then they're continued to talk about releasing the game on the Mac, but it's still nowhere to be found. *sniff*
OpenPlane home page
OpenPlane is the core of Fighter Squadron sim, it allows you to describe the objects in the game using a text format along with textures in TIFFs and the 3D model in an ".sm" file. This page includes the documentation for the system, some simple tools for working with the format, an example plane to work with, and a simplified engine to test out your creations in.
Parsoft, set up by the brilliant Eric Parker, was the original developer of Fighter Squadron. After the game was completed he moved on (back to university for a Phd I hear) and left the flight sim world after many years and some amazing games. As the owner of Parsoft the company still exists, although the other developers moved on to the newly formed Inertia Games.
Tailslide's Air Combat
One of the best FS add-on sites out there.
- MobyGames ID: 4974
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Maury Markowitz.
Additional contributors: Patrick Bregger.
Game added September 24th, 2001. Last modified February 22nd, 2023.