Review by ShabaKiev101
"A simulator for anyone (as long as it is 1944)"
Jane's WWII Fighters is among the best for the WW2 flight simulator titles. Considering it's age, the cracks are starting to show, and it may not have that IL2 quality, but for the price you are likely to pay for it, you're going to get some fun out of it. By 'best', I mean, 'most fun' and this IS fun at the best of times, but be warned, even with a PC above the specifications, it is hard to run it at any more than 1024 by 768.
Still, lets get down to business shall we?
Gameplay- What can I say here. There is a lot in this one, combat, strafing, bombing runs, escorts, dogfighting one-on-one with jets, this has it in spades. There are seven basic aircraft, some of them well known, like the P-51D "Mustang", and the ME262 Schwalbe (the first Jet Fighter in service). Each airframe can and will deform and be destroyed reasonably realistically, with each and every hit altering the already amazing flight dynamics of each aircraft. Take a shell in the wing, for example, and the wing will droop as airflow is disrupted over the surfaces. Take a turn too tightly, and you'll lose airspeed and stall.
Firing the guns is more than just getting behind the enemy and firing, lead angles have to be calculated, ammunition has to be conserved, distances judged. It takes both luck and skill, and getting the perfect shot is one of the many engrossing aspects of the game. Bombing is another aspect to master and perfect, getting the right altitude and pickling the target. But when done successfully, it gives an immense feel of satisfaction.
The landing and takeoffs are a technical marvel in their own right. The fine line between perfection and chaos is utterly relevant, but hypnotising, as you'll be tempted to keep your eyes on the screen, and your fingers on the flaps and ailerons. The feedback you receive from nailing an amazing landing, with half a wing missing, will drag you back for more.
The game may only have thirty five full missions in the game, but the creative possibilities of the mission editor more than makes up for it. The editor is very user-friendly and it is entirely possible to spend so many hours creating the best mission that you can, and still have something to show for it. As another plus, unlike IL2, this has the same theme running through it consistently. The olive green and gold of the menu screens isn't hard on the eyes either, and after a while it even starts to grow on you. The only flaw is that it truly does take HOURS to place the units, before you even get to the background of the mission that you are creating.
Story- The game takes place in historically-accurate 1944, in the Ardennes. The game itself jumps back and forth between the stories of many 'name less and face less' pilots who died for their country. There is so much historical fact, and even interviews with famous pilots from both sides of the war, that it is easy to get lost in what you're reading, or watching, as the game features real videos of the aircraft, along with high quality narration of the aircraft. There are three menus, and each is bathed in story, from the displays about the many battles, to the aircraft themselves, and each tells it's own story, as well.
Graphics- One word. Dated. The game, being made in 1998 was never really going to look good, and the game shows it. The terrain itself looks like a mess of green and white, without any real definition between the two. There are so many jagged edges in the 3D mesh, that you could shave with it. The forests aren't even there! You need to find a setting in the .cfg file just to get a few trees in there! And the trees don't even look like trees! The water is just a flat surface, and if you hit it, you just glide along it, like a smooth mirror. The texturing isn't much better, with each and every one being of 256 pixels or less. And to think that you need to look at all of this for hours on end. The textures on the aircraft are horrible! How do you expect to discern a FW 190 from a BF 109 when they are so blocky, you can't even tell them apart! It truly is a shame, because the 3D models of the aircraft are pretty good-looking.
The effects are really not so good either. The explosions are about the worst in a game, and look like they were textured by the dev's three-year-old son. The fire and smoke also look like an MS Paint job, or something from Game Maker. The effects are also completely in 2D, and consequently, the supposed 3D clouds, aren't actually 3D at all! It boggles the mind, how the dev's let the animators and artists get away with horrible looking shoddy effects in a game like this. The pause screen map looks pretty though. It was 1998, I guess...
Sound- Best elevator music ever! It plays throughout the entire menu structure, and the tunes really are catchy. In game, the music is dynamic, and changes accordingly, so if you are flying peacefully it plays calming, soothing music, but upon getting shot at it changes to a tragedy strung, fast-paced mix. The voices have varying types, and the Germans are fully recorded in German. After a while, you eventually begin to understand what they are saying, and even can disable the subtitles entirely. In all honesty, this has above-par voice acting, but it becomes much more gritty when you disable the mild language option. Those who don't want to hear the Germans speak, well, like Germans are accommodated as well, being there is an option to make the Axis speak in English. The British pilots speak in the natural Northern accent, but it doesn't really get grating. In fact, in some cases, the British get the best lines in the game.
The actual sounds are pretty fine too. From the purring of a tuned up Merlin engine under the hood, to the piercing scream of perforating tracers ventilating your fuselage, it's all here. Flak booms like it should, and the clattering of gunfire is captured well, considering that you're gonna hear it a lot when playing. Going into a steep dive yields the sound of whipping wind and the scream of the dive brakes. The wheels hitting the tarmac yield the usual squeal of the tyres, and the chatter of the tower controller warding off a rookie who isn't in flight formation. The different engine sounds are captured in all their glory, from the high pitched octaves of the '51 to the droan of the hulking brute P-47, there at least is one way of identifying friend-from-foe. Even a shot up engine will give squeaks and squeals as the pistons struggle to produce the power needed.
Replayability- Of course, will you want to play it after buying it? Or will you cower off to your beloved IL2? If you can bear to stick loyal to seven aircraft and the washed up graphics, then get ready with your joystick in hand, as you're coming for a wild ride. And the poor textures are more than made up for if you care to look up the fan bases for this game. They have everything to suit your tastes.
I reckon a solid many hours of fun could be had if you dig deep enough. But to rent or buy? Buy, obviously, it is well worth the price tag (if you can find it anywhere).
Submitted at 9:18PM, EST, by ShabaKiev101
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 04/27/10
Game Release: WWII Fighters (US, 12/31/98)
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