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Fighter Squadron: Screaming Demons Over Europe

by Dennis Greene

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  • AMD K6-2 333/MHz
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  • Diamond Monster II w/12Mb
  • 11Gig DMA 33 hard disk
  • 40x DMA33 CD

Thrill of the Moment

I could just make out the French coast when the radio crackled to life, "Unknown contact, 2 o'clock high!" I had two P-38's stay with the bombers and ordered my wingman to form up with me to investigate.

As we grew closer, my wingman called: "Enemy fighters, 12 o'clock." I ordered him to engage the Fw-190's and called on the other two 38's to assist.

I had no time for fear, long experience taking over in the heat of battle. I tried to look everywhere and be everywhere at once. I was too busy to be worried; I was living in the moment. All that mattered was the enemy in my sights as I shot him to pieces, and survival.

There were too many of them. For a brief moment time froze and I saw over a dozen aircraft filling the air with screamin' death. We were outnumbered. No matter how many we shot down, there were always more.

The moment ended abruptly with loud impacts on my fighter. Desperately, I twisted my 38 and nearly lost control as I pulled instant max G's and micro-blacked out. I could hear the rattle of the elevator and feel the plane flex and shudder from the strain I put on her. She came around in an impossible move, the edges of blackness tunneling my vision to nearly a pinpoint again.

Fear gripped my gut in an icy flash, and I thought, "I can't blackout now, I need to get around, I need to survive -- I want to live..."

If you thought that was an extract from a real W.W.II fighter pilot's memoirs, well it was -- but a virtual one, and that pilot was this reviewer. Which is better for a simulation, suspension of disbelief or real-accuracy? I will make every effort to answer that question, amongst others, in this review.

ActiVision Makes Its Bid

The much anticipated and long awaited release of Fighter Squadron: Screamin' Demons Over Europe (FS:SDOE), a World War II combat aircraft simulation, has finally happened. FS:SDOE, published by ActiVision and created by ParSoft, hit the gaming community like a bomb, polarizing the hard core community overnight. Let's take a closer look at what this product did to cause such uproar and whether it really warranted this much attention.

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Like the other W.W.II air combat sims released this year, by Microprose, Microsoft and Origin. ParSoft and ActiVision had hopes of captured market share for themselves by promising an ultra-realistic World War II Fight Simulator. FS:SDOE does deliver some stunning graphics, the sensation of flight, dogfighting to a refined edge, and introduced some new technologies, pushed back the envelope, but did it keep its promise intact?

Promises Made

When the hard-core community heard that ParSoft, the creators of A-10 Attack! and A-10 Cuba, were teaming up with ActiVision to put out a World War II flight simulator there was dancing in the streets. There was great hope that ParSoft would put out a flight model of the same quality as A-10 and the hard-core flight sim community would finally get what they had been craving for so many years.

Early information and previews seemed to indicate that the dream would come true- the tension mounted. The two main contenders ParSoft faced were Microprose's European Air War (the First, and some say the best), and Jane's WW II Fighters.

Both of these titles, despite teething problems of their own, immediately grabbed high ground: EAW with its 'dynamic' campaign model, massive air battles, and the ability to fly online with friends and foes in co-op battles for the recreate the war crowd. Jane's stood out with it's intense and stunningly beautiful aircraft graphics and excellent online play.

Yet both these sims fell short of the mark. EAW was hobbled by it's failure to allow personalized markings, lack of working surfaces, functional but drab graphics and poor online ability. WWII Fighters was limited by it's rather relaxed flight model, limited scope and lack of campaign.

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 Last Updated March 30th, 1999