(This article may be found at http://www.combatsim.com/memb123/htm/2001/01/b172lenreview)

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B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty 8th!
By Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson

The Setting and the Setup

B17 II is set in late 1943 and continues right through to the armistice in May, 1945. After install (around 650MB) one runs the setup and makes some choices about graphics resolution and color depth, sound API and language. The simulation will run all the way up to 1600x1200, but since most will want to run with high detail, 1280x960 is as high as I recommend. 32 bit color will produce smooth shaded skies and richer color.

The Game Setup

B17 II loves memory, even more than strong CPUs. I started out with the MINIMUM memory configuration of 128MB on a Celeron II 733 and noticed a great deal of disk swapping and many pauses to load textures. Increasing to 194 MB reduced disk swapping and pauses were smaller. Moving to 256MB all but eliminated the pauses. The ideal is 256MB or greater.

One must install A3d support in order to run the game, but do NOT check the A3d option in the initial game setup unless you have a sound board with the Aureal chipset.

The Options tab in the setup interface allows the player to create a separate graphics cache for B17 to access. You will need another 350MB of space beyond the 650MB install size if you choose to create a cache. Note also that the minimum disk cache requirements are 400MB, so you must have at least that much free space AFTER installing B17. Some players have improved performance by specifying the virtual memory minimum at 600MB.

There are many choices to make as one enters the game. The opening menu is at left.

One selects the option to configure, and then selects the Continue switch in the lower right.
In this case we select the Options panel, which takes us to another selection interface. This time our choices are Controls, Graphics, Realism and Difficulty, Sound, and Load/Save Game.

Options Menu

Options Menu

Selecting Realism/Difficulty brings up the next list of choices.

Realism and Difficulty

The Realism/Difficulty Options amount to fourteen different selections. I left the default selections for all options except Crew Autonomy. The Autonomy item I changed to Normal from Superior Initiative. If you leave the default setting for Initiative you won’t have to worry about commanding crewmen to put out fires or attend to the wounded, though they won’t ALWAYS give immediate attention to wounded crew during combat. Of course, their skill levels at tasks like fixing stuck guns and first aid will still vary by individual whatever setting you select for crew initiative. (Note: I later turned air collisions OFF).

Realism and Difficulty

Having completed the Realism and Difficulty selection, I went to the Graphics Menu.

Graphics Setup

I chose DETAIL settings for everything except interior shadows, terrain and non-player B17s. The balanced choice doesn’t change the appearance of things a great deal and is a better choice if you have a CPU lower than PIII800, and especially if you have less than 194MB of memory. The balanced setting is supposed to offer dynamic texture adjustment depending on the strain on your CPU.

Next I went to the Control Options Menu. You’ll have to visit this menu to reassign any key strokes as well as to configure your joystick.

It’s not immediately obvious how this interface works, and there aren’t any explanations offered in the manual. In fact, while the manual is generally clear on major areas, it just doesn’t go far enough.

Control Options

To configure the three axes on my digital (force feedback) joystick, I clicked on the function to configure in the left screen, which would then bring up options on the right. The next step is to click on the line below the Axis on the right screen, and the line will change to “scanning..” You then move the axis you wish to configure, and the program will record the assignment.

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(This article may be found at http://www.combatsim.com/htm/2001/01/b172lenreview)