Game Over Online ~ Fighter Squadron: SDOE

GameOver Game Reviews - Fighter Squadron: SDOE (c) Activision, Reviewed by - Umax

Game & Publisher Fighter Squadron: SDOE (c) Activision
System Requirements Pentium 133, 16MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 76%
Date Published Tuesday, March 23rd, 1999 at 03:27 PM

Divider Left By: Umax Divider Right

Fighter Squadron has been a long time coming. Up to a year ago, it appeared in some print magazines’ "Upcoming Flight Sim Roundup" section, and I was impressed by the screenshots. Even now, using the same graphics, the flight sim appears visually impressive. However, as we all know very well, graphics in no way make a game enjoyable, they just slow the time until the CD hits the rim of the waste bin. How does Fighter Squadron: Screamin’ Demons Over Europe fare up against other sims? Read onů

My first grievance with the game was the loading times. When you first enter a theater, the loading times for the terrain are pretty much appalling, even on a high-spec machine. However, every subsequent time you enter that same theater, they are nearly 1/3 the length. Why is this? The shear amount of detail in the terrain and maps is mind blowing, and the computer needs to load it up into memory I suppose. Either way, it’s worth the wait just to see the little houses with smoke coming from individual chimneys.

After first entering the theater that takes place in Dover (South of England), I chose my mission, and took to the air to see how the game flies. When you really crank up the realism this game is very nice to fly, and if you have the skills, or peripherals, to coordinate rudder and aileron you will be rewarded with some beautiful turns. In addition to the beautiful handling of each aircraft, each has it’s own very realistic tendencies on takeoff and landing. All the capabilities of each aircraft are (so it would seem) realistic. In addition to the aircraft’s own tendencies they are influenced by atmospheric variables as well. Er.. basically things like engine torque will have an effect on your plane when you crank up the realism. I can’t attest that a Lancaster can sustain +5.6g for any period of time, but it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility. Obviously from my last statement, yes you can fly bombers as well as fighters. In fact, the player can gain control over 1 bomber and at least 3 fighters from each of the major powers; England, Germany, and USA.

The bombers are reminiscent of AirWarrior, in that the player can leave the cockpit and enter each of the gun turrets individually to take control, which is one feature that sets this game apart from the crowd. Continuing into the next mission in the series I realized that there isn’t really a set campaign structure. There are missions which, when flown in sequence form somewhat of a plot. However, the player can choose to fly any mission in any order. This isn’t a problem though because of the shear amount of missions available between the three world powers, in the three theaters of war. It actually makes a nice change and adds variety to the game. The three theaters in which the player can fight are Dover, Africa, and Germany, each is very realistic and has it’s own unique terrain and weather conditions. After flying most of the missions in the Dover theater I can say with honesty that it is very realistic and pretty true to the real-world location, as are all of the theaters I would imagine. (I haven’t been to Africa or Germany yet.)

The only real beef I have with FS:SDOE is navigation. While WW2 fighters obviously did not have autopilot systems that could find waypoints on their own and fly around the world unaided using GPS nav, navigation in this game is ridiculously difficult and does detract a bit from the fun of it. Once you get used to it though it’s not a huge problem, and I found myself using landmarks on the ground to navigate by which is actually pretty realistic.

The game is, as I said before, visually impressive. While it doesn’t have the overwhelmingly realistic detail that other sims such as Jane’s WW2 Fighters have, it does certainly hold it’s own against most other competition. Each aircraft is textured nicely, and shows battle damage in all the appropriate places. One thing that confuses me though, is why all of the planes start out with a new, clean exterior, except the Supermarine Spitfire! One look at this plane and you’d swear it just flew through a paint stripper. I can say without hesitation that while most WW2 fighters did lose paint in the course of combat and maintenance, they were never let to get to this horrible state of repair. This aside, the detail on the aircraft is all for the most part very accurate. One thing I really liked was how from external views, the player can see through the canopy into the 3D cockpit inside, where his 3D pilot is. That was a refreshing change from the usual 2D sprite characters that inhabited past flight sims’ aircraft. Special effects in FS:SDOE were also very well done, even if there were no new ones. Bullet strikes, sparks, smoke, muzzle flash, vapor trails, explosions; it’s your standard fare. Sound is also nothing special. While all your normal flight sim sounds are here, it’s just nothing special, and there are no really impressive sounds that grab your attention.

Overall, this game is excellent, and pretty fun. It has a wide variety of player controllable aircraft, some of which are going to be new to most players. It also has a different way of handling gameplay, in some brilliantly detailed terrain. It doesn’t, however, have the amount of innovative features that other games in this genre have. If flying bombers is your idea of fun, FSDOE is for you, but if you want a purebread WW2 fighter simulation with visual AND physical detail that will make your eyes bleed, then you may want to look elsewhere.


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