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 Home -> Reviews -> Rowan's Battle of Britain
Rowan's Battle of Britain By John "Award" Del Percio, May 09, 2001
Developer :Rowan Software
Publisher :Empire Interactive
Release Date :Winter 2001
Demo Available : Yes - Download
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

Tally Ho!

I should mention, before I begin the discussion on the game elements, is that Battle of Britain is a flight simulator. This isn't your average shoot-em-up space superiority fighter sim which you can figure out overnight with nothing but a joystick at your side. You must get used to the way aeronautics work. Not only that, but, while a modern fighter is far more complicated to operate than a WWII Spitfire, the WWII prop-craft are far easier to operate in terms of usage. A modern fighter operates like a space superiority fighter in many ways. The engines are always rolling, so you can move in most any direction, and still keep electronic target lock. In WWII, your plan was vastly affected by wind currents, slipstreams, if you went up too steep, you could stall or roll to the ground, and trying to turn in the direction of your target was very difficult, let alone keeping him in your tiny sights.

First, we'll discuss the 3D combat simulator. I have not seen a simulator with this much configurability ever before. Aside from the typical system graphics and sound settings, there is an entire options panel for simulator options. You can set the physics to be realistic or simple, you can set the AI to respond just as it did in the war, or it can respond with over fifty years of hindsight and improve its tactics. You can set it to disable full control of prop pitch and engine management, or to give it a go yourself. There are countless other possible options you can select within the simulator.

For simulator mode, you can either enter through various points in the campaign (more discussion about the 2D campaign map on page 3), via multiplayer, or in the "quick shots". For now, I'll discuss the quick shots. As the name implies, it is a quick mission round, ranging from simple fighter and bomber training exercises to historical battles such as the Battle of Britain itself. In many of the quick battles you already start in mid air ready to fight, though that is far easier said than done. BoB features the most accurate WWII simulator I've seen. Down to the slightest details of control over your craft (assuming you have the realistic flight model and full engine and prop management enabled), the cockpit, and flight physics and dynamics, it is an authentic flying experience. I just wish I had a force feedback joystick to go with it, or better yet, rudder pedals!

Combat is precise. Unless you are tailing your enemy, the odds of hitting him are marginal. You have a (realistic) tiny dot for a reticule, and a fine stream of (highly limited) ammunition. If that wasn't difficult enough, you must keep your enemy in your sights or risk loosing him. They had no radar or sensors back then. Visual was the only detection system...bad news if you have a bogie on your tail, or if you lost your target thanks to tricky maneuvering, or a gust of wind that knocked you off course. In fact, it is so precise that the Lutwaffe is far more difficult to play. Why? Because, among more technical reasons, all the radio chatter is in German. Since I don't speak German, I had to read the subtitles which lost valuable time in tracking my target.

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