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Ron Ridley Auto Care Mall

 
  Luftwaffe Commander
Preamble...
Though I remember playing WWII sims like Chuck Yeager's Air Combat and Air War over Europe (or something similar), most recent sims have been focused on new technology than the prop jobs. Never really did like firing on an enemy out of sight at the speed of sound. When I received Luftwaffe Commander (LC), I became extremely interested in the fact that you would play in five theaters during Campaign mode. I have never seen anyone try to start WWII in Spain before which intrigued me to no end. You will only play the German side in campaign mode, hence the title name. Initially it looked like SSI and Eagle Interactive had introduced a game that was going to really grab me. But like many current flight sims, I realized that I would have to learn how to 'fly' this one in order to be able to survive. Because surviving air combat in WWII was half the battle and it is no different in LC.

Companyline..........

Over 10 different flyable aircraft with detailed interiors and instrument panels.
2 flight modes, each with its own aerodynamic model and map mode, provide challenges for the novice and hard-core expert alike.
50 unique single player missions.
20 unique multiplayer missions.
Custom Combat option allows for unlimited air combat scenarios.
5 different combat areas with over 50,000 square miles of terrain -- including Spain, France, Great Britain, Russia and Germany.
Over 50 different 3-D aircraft exterior models with historical markings, paint schemes and flight characteristics.
Formation tracking toggle for enhanced wingman pursuit.
Dynamic aircraft damage models.
Unlimited external views and 16 different internal views of each aircraft.
Historically accurate awards, uniforms, badges and enemy aces.
Modem and serial play for 2 players, network play for up to 10 players, online play for up to 10 players. Both flight modes available for all multiplayer options!

Gameplay...

LC supports most of the popular game controllers that are meant for flight sims. After much playing around, I settled on the CH Flightstick Pro and the CH Pro Pedals. That said, I started playing by jumping into some quickstart sessions to see what this game was like.

First off, I found that I could not get behind the enemy - period! If I didn't manage to shoot him on the first pass, I was toast. Well, maybe I need to practice this some more. I flew the various aircraft without any enemy to get a feel for handling. Right off, I noticed that there was a lack of realism. I've had my pilots licence since I was 17 and one thing we practised was how to recover from spins and stalls. It is a lesson learned and not forgotten but LC doesn't seem to know about them. You should be able to stall a aircraft by climbing, let airspeed bleed and then let it drop into a spin by yarding on the stick and kicking the rudder. In LC, you simply push the stick forward and straighten out.

I then decided to try a campaign and see how LC performed as a game. Same problem with the enemy AI. If I didn't manage to get him on a head on approach, it was fly in circles until I ran out of fuel. Climbing got me shot, diving was toast and my wingmen can't seem to hit a barn door if it was parked in front of them. It seemed strange that when I was escorting some bombers to a location, every enemy aircraft came after me. My wingmen simply got in the way and eventually got shot down. Only after I was drifting down in my parachute did the enemy bother going after the bombers I was escorting.

The game terrain is well- bland. Detail like farms and citys look painted on with no depth. I suppose that giving the terrain the depth would have upped the minimum requirements a bit but it might have been worthwhile. All of this is very evident as you get closer to the ground. This would have been a minor complaint if you didn't have the more serious issues.

Using the various views is awkward in LC. I didn't get a real sense of viewing out of a cockpit with so many blindspots and was disorriented most times. Seemed to be better off with just turning until an enemy came into view and then chased him. Usually got out-turned at this point.

Multiplayer is available but I have a feeling that to find a opponent is going to be difficult with the issues pointed out above. LC supports network or modem/serial play though I would have preferred to have a Mplayer/Zone option via TCP/IP available. Funny that the manual states that TCP/IP is supported via the Online option in the Multiplayer window but I could not see it. I also looked through the other choices to find it but it did not appear.

The Patch.......

Included in the 1.1 patch...

General:

Battle can now be destroyed with Realistic Damage turned on.
HE72 can now be destroyed with Realistic Damage turned on.
Midair collisions now damage/destroy your plane.
You are now able to fly to Toledo in Spain without crashing.
All enemy planes that crash now explode.
I-16 aircraft now has the correct 2 blade propellor.
Propellor on He72 plane is now at the correct height when viewed in virtual cockpit mode.

Spanish Missions:

Spanish Escort He59, rendezvous point with float planes is now accurate with the briefing map
Spanish Escort He59, after meeting with the He59's you are to escort, hitting Zap now takes you to the next combat zone, not to your home airbase
Spanish Escort Ju52, the Ju52's are alive now when you meet them

French Missions:

France Escort Ju87, all Ju87's are now able to take off without crashing
France Fried Jagd vs. Fokker G.1a/DXXI/F2A-3, you now land at the same airfield you took off from.
France Runway Alert Mission, the invisible hill near Nieuport has been fixed.

Training Mode:

Crashing in Training mode no longer earns a Pilots Badge
In Training mode, pulling the He72 into a steep climb will no longer allow it to hover in mid air.

Multi Player:

Modem/Serial Game no longer locks up when attempting to start a game
In Multiplay, enemy planes now appear as FOE on the GCI
In Multiplay, two planes targeting each other on their GCI's now get the same distance to each other.

In the End...

This is a sorry time for SSI because I respect them so much. Releasing a game like this is not good for their business or reputation. LC has many problems that seem to point out the lack of development. It looks fine but the AI is incomprehensible. This is too bad as it would have given games like Combat Flight Simulator or European Air Wars a run for their money- literally. I have to say that LC disappointed me because it had some very good potential but turned out to be flawed

Review ID Number: 220
  Product Details
Eagle Interactive
Review Date: 2001-04-19
Reviewer: Nick Sardy
Rating: 6 out of 10
 
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