Rowan's Battle of Britain
|a game by||Rowan Software Ltd.|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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The Battle of Britain. Probably one of the proudest moments in British history, which tends to leave most Americans with a vacant stare and a cry of You Limeys did what.'The Few' (about 800 pilots in total) stood up to the might of Germany and its air force, The Luftwaffe, in the summer of 1940 and although it could never be called a crushing defeat, halted the German advance and saved Blighty.
Ironically Rowan could also wear the mantra 'The Few'. They have released a total of three flight sims since 1995, the last one being almost two years ago. And, although Rowan's Battle of Britain is both a tribute to the men who fought all those years ago (and a reason tor their existence), they sadly managed to miss the 60th anniversary. But it was worth the wait. While not exactly ground breaking in either graphics or general gameplay, Battle Of Britain actually captures something that almost every other flight sim fails - to do. You feel like you're there. Admittedly, being a British game about British events probably has a lot to do with it. I was fairly nonplussed with Microsoft Combat Flight Sim 2, not because the game wasn't any cop (it was an excellent game) but because I don't really care that much about the Americans fighting the Japanese. Shooting down Messershmitts, on the other hand, is a different matter.
The game opens up with the usual Training/Action/Campaign options. Training, as you can guess, is the usual dull, tedious, learn to fly mode. The other two sections are where it's really at.
IN MY SIGHTS
Immersion. I talked about it earlier and if you really want to capture the feeling of being there, you need to play the game with difficulty levels set to maximum. Blackouts, troque, real flight models; turn them all on. It might make the learning curve a tad hard, but you get a feel of what it must have been like. And this is where you first discover that shooting down an enemy plane is damn hard. Your opponents don't stay still and have this really annoying habit of shooting back. Needless to say, you'll find yourself getting nailed every 20 seconds. Which is bloody annoying at first, but you keep finding yourself having 'one last go' to see if you can nail them. And it's a great feeling when you finally do, although it's usually 4am by this time, and the alarm clock is looking at you going 'Ha ha, only three hours left to sleep before work!'
As well as the chocks away action, you can play the role of the bomber, although against serious opposition, this amounts to nothing more than airborne suicide. But when you're over the target and there are antiaircraft shells going off all around you like black sunflowers, and Spitfires tearing over the top of the plane, you find yourself not just firing the machine gun, but yelling like a bom again Christian with an attitude problem. It doesn't just feel like you're there, you are there...
Rowan has also added a campaign mode where you can either try to predict where the Germans are going to strike (if you're playing as the RAF) or choose targets to hit if you're playing the Germans. And this is probably the only real blight in this game because it's really overly complex - and not in a good way. Otherwise it would be a Classic.
When you look at how lush the actual flying graphics are, you really wonder why they put so little effort into this side of the game, which is where any real longevity is going to come in. The campaigns are divided into four segments and, although you can play through the entire campaign, this certainly isn't immediately obvious. The other major flaw is the inability to customise your controls. If you've been playing any other flight sim for some time you have to relearn the entire control system. To put so much thought into the look and of the flying part, and then to mp on this side of the game is serious oversight. Hopefully, after reading this, it might try repair things in the shape of a patch, but there's nothing f on the horizon at the moment.
All in all though, this is still one of the best flight l sims we've k seen to date, and will no doubt be played to death by some of the sadder individuals in the office (answers on a postcard to 'Daniel Emery and Paul Presley have no life. The multiplayer aspect is great, although it's restricted to a maximum number of eight players. An online server that could have supported 100+ players would have been a fantastic addition. The lack of thought in the campaign mode is also a big minus (and probably stops the game slipping into the uncharted waters of the Classic), but this game does everything else right. Definitely recommended for anyone into combat flight sims.