PC Pilot

The Complete Guide to Computer Aviation
by Steve Smith


The "World War II: 1946!" expansion disk is a fascinating "what-if" scenario: what if we hadn't successfully developed the atom bomb and were forced to invade the Japanese mainland against fanatical resistance? The thesis here is that it would have caused the war to drag on another eighteen months and cost another three million lives.

There's plenty of action on this disk—dogfighting, ship- and ground-strikes, close air support—and another six aircraft (to add to the original twenty-one), including the Kikka (a Japanese copy of the Me-262), the Shinden (a tiny pusher-prop interceptor that would have been the fastest prop plane of the war), the mighty Grumann F8F Bearcat (which gave the Mustang a run for its money in postwar air races), and—shades of Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe—the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star.

One major departure from Aces Over Europe: carrier landings—difficult, but not so taxing as the carrier traps in JetFighter II (see Chapter Thirteen). Among the challenges: slipping a fish in the water in the general direction of the Yamato—it has to be done just right—no more than sixty feet above the water and at no more than 100 miles per hour…which makes you a tempting low, slow target.

The graphics are excellent, although SA (Situational Awareness) suffers from several blind spots. When you get a torpedo properly launched, you can follow the wake right to the target. The ground detail is severely limited until you're right up close (you can tell you're at wavetop height when you can see white-caps). If you get wounded, your vision goes blood red and fades in and out. In two-seater aircraft, you see only the back of your rear-facing gunner's head. He has only two positions: bolt upright and slumped over dead.

The resource demands are heavy. For Aces Over Europe, a 33-MHz 486, DOS 5.x (or better), two megs of RAM and six megs on your hard disk. For Aces of the Pacific, a 25-MHz 486, DOS 5.x (or better), two megs of RAM and six megs on your hard disk (more if you add "World World II: 1946!"). VGA is a must and you'd be cheating yourself without a sound board.

The weapons are particularly well modeled, as to rate of fire, ammo available, and lethality. It takes many hits to bring down a P-47 Thunderbolt, but comparatively few to get a Zero. The sound support is excellent: engines, gunfire, cannon fire, explosions, hitting your target, getting hit, proximity fading, and Doppler effects.

One particularly fine feature is the VCR, which allows you to change the perspective in playback from your original cockpit view to a variety of external views (chase plane, subject-to-target, reverse tactical view, zoom, pan, etc.) and "record" the changes, so the next time you play the "tape" it will show all your edits. It also allows you to "Enter the Simulation" at any point—just before you got shot down is a great time—enabling you to practice not making the same mistake twice.

For the user, possibly the best feature of these games isn't on the disks: Dynamix's support is the best I've seen of any of the major players in this business. They issue more upgrades than any other publisher, and distribute them directly (you do have to ask) or on on-line services like CompuServe. The games are constantly being improved, and Dynamix does listen.

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