"Meat on the table," is what Thunderbolt ace Bob Johnson called
the Me 110. ("Me" because that's what aces of the time knew them
as, not "Bf".) The rear gunner squirts a feeble stream of seven
point nines vaguely in your direction as your .50's get him
smoking good from 300 yards. You touch the trigger again and he
disintegrates into a big ball of flame. Your wingman
congratulates you as you bank away to avoid the pieces, searching
for another victim.
WWII IS BACK!
You'll experience the above scenario, and much more, in
Microprose's European Air War. All the heavy metal is there too.
Fly-able is the P-38H & J, P-47C & D, P-51B & D, Hurricane I,
Spitfire Ia, IX & XIVE, Typhoon IB, Tempest V, Fw 190A8 & D-9,
Bf 109E-4, G-6 & K-4, Bf 110C & G, plus the Me 262. (See Jim's earlier article on the aircraft of EAW).
Bombers you will meet are the B-17, B-24, B-26, Mosquito, Ju 87, Ju 88, He
111, plus the V-1's. Some of these aircraft have never before
been modeled in a simulation. Even if they have, it's never been
this good. This is what all of the World War II air combat fans
have been waiting years for.
First, but not foremost, is the graphics. I compare previous
WWII sims such as Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, Aces Over the
Pacific, Aces Over Europe and Pacific Air War's graphics to
Warner Brothers cartoons. Everything is defined and clear enough
but it's all like a neatly done coloring book. Color is brighter
and every line of every object in the air and on the ground is
EAW is more like a well illustrated comic book. It is not
cartoonish yet not photographic quality either. More realistic,
it leans towards a fine, detailed aviation oil painting by Stan
Stokes or Roy Grinnell. Paint schemes are immaculate showing
weathering and wear. Squadron markings are good enough in detail
to be recognizable. Everything looks right.
I personally do not want too much terrain detail. After you fly
over a few times and "gee whiz" about it, it's just ground
clutter when you're trying to pick up that 109 turning at 10
o'clock low. EAW does quite well in this respect. As you focus
on the gray camo 109G clearly, the surrounding realistically blurs away.
Me262-A1 flight scrambles to intercept the
Simulation designers have a tough job in creating views. Nothing
is like turning your head and moving your eyes in a real cockpit.
We must rely on punching view controls or padlock an object.
The padlock will project the object chosen on the screen, no
matter which direction it is relative to the way you are flying.
Disorienting at first, you can practice and soon coordinate your
stick and rudder moves to line up the enemy plane in the sight
ring. It is the nearest thing there is to natural, reflex, line
of sight viewing.
One good crutch is the target info that brackets the on-screen
object with range, aircraft type and heading. Altitude and speed
read out on an unobtrusive HUD at the lower right of the screen.
Jet sims have used it for ages in target acquisition at long
ranges. You can select the amount of info displayed over a given target.
Target info on screen.
Click to continue
. . .
Spit IX Evening Shot
I can rationalize this aid because in reality you can see so much
better at WWII combat ranges than off of the dumb monitor screen.
Your 17-19" screen is about the size of an open comic book, and
you're doing a "where's Waldo" on the pages. Next time you're
really in a 737 descending at 5,000 feet going 250-300 mph, note
how much detail your eyes take in. No contest.
I can tell you that, with perfect clarity, you will see an
aircraft traversing the screen at 1/4 mile away. As with
all of European Air War's features, if you do not like them, you
can turn them off.
Over all the view dynamics are really fine. You immediately get
the "big sky" sensation. The old WWII sims took in a scope of
about a mile around your A/C, aircraft. EAW can make you feel
very alone in the sky, taking in tens of miles of view at a time.
Read any combat narrative and pilots relate the same feeling.
Target tracking left on will read out to 500,000 feet behind you!
Weather effects are nicely done. Chasing a 109 over France in a
P-47C you'll find yourself slipping in and out of wispy, low
marine layers of coastal clouds. The haze on the horizon is
The size of the enemy aircraft is a tough to model to suit all.
The plane is larger at all ranges than previous WWII simulations
but I believe that some will still find them small. You can use
the "+" key to zoom in from 700 yards with .50 caliber and 20
millimeter being deadly. Input through the joystick is
amplified during zoom so slight movements are the order. The
orange tracers guide you without being too bright.
B-17 limping along on 2 running engines
SHOOT TO KILL
The two settings for gunnery are "easy" and "realistic." At
killing range of 200-300 yards an E/A, enemy aircraft in a smooth
turn is VERY hard to hit in "realistic." On "easy" it seems more
real to me as you see errant strikes noted with flashes and smoke
puffs as the A/C is lightly hit. When you are missing solid hits
the few rounds that are in the vicinity give you hints for
I've heard many pilots speak of this. In "realistic"
you just plain miss. At six o'clock it seems about the same on
either setting. Few planes have ammo rounds counters and you
must be prudent with your ordnance, like real. Quick bursts
squeezed off are the only way to excel. One neat, realistic
feature is the gun feed stoppage you randomly get on a weapon.
Flying through bomber debris in the Me 262 put all my 30mm's out
of action once.
Weapon sounds are a bit puny for my taste relative to the engine
sounds. The four .50's on the P-51B sound about like the eight on
the P-47. The 30mm is a nice thumper so best turn it all up to
savor all the audio.
Go to Part II