Flights Through History
Learn if you have
"The Right Stuff"
By Jim Bray
Anyone who's ever
dreamed of climbing into the cockpit of a classic WWII fighter should
run down to the local store and pick up Microsoft's Combat Flight Simulator,
a wonderful fantasy that lets you pilot planes from either side in the
As an aviation freak
whose father flew for the Royal Canadian Air Force, I was most interested
in planes like Spitfires, Hurricanes and, my personal favourite, the P51
Mustang. And they're all here, in all their glory, and (though I've never
come even close to flying the real thing) they feel about as accurate
as you can get without virtual reality.
You can dogfight,
go on strafing missions, escort bombers, you name it!
can also get shot down, unfortunately, but such was the sacrifice of the
valiant men who actually flew these missions more than half a century
Combat Flight Simulator
gives you a small taste of what they went through, from the comfort of
your home or office - and left me even more in awe of these heroes than
I already was.
The sim appears to
take the best features from Microsoft's more mainstream Flight Simulator,
including great sound and graphics. The geography included in the game
stretches between Great Britain and Germany, and from Switzerland to the
Baltic Sea. You can follow rivers, fly over towns and 3D cities like London,
Paris and Berlin.
To add even more fantasy
to it, you import add civilian planes and scenery from different parts
of the world; so you can fly a 737 passenger jet and bomb Berlin!
The basic sim comes
with eight authentic German, British and American fighters, and the highly
detailed cockpit display shows working instruments and gauges. A combination
of keyboard and multi-button joystick controls every aspect of the game
with all sorts of different realism levels. You can switch the cockpit
off for better all around view and rely on smaller windows that show positions
of all aircraft as well as important info on your plane.
You also get modern
aids like pointers that highlight your nearest target (I can't imagine
how the real guys found the bogeys without them!). And you can stock unlimited
rockets and ammo to make things even more unfair for your enemy.
thing I noticed was how difficult it is to fly without rudder pedals,
and I didn't have a chance to hook up a set before writing this. You can
control the rudder with the keyboard, but I was so busy just trying to
stay alive and finish my mission using the joystick that I couldn't take
time to find the proper keys and actually use them.
dogfights," you can participate in historically accurate campaigns
complete with full briefings or individual missions.
Combat Flight Simulator
can also be played over a local area network, modem to modem or with up
to eight players on Microsoft's Internet Gaming zone. Scores are shown
after play with stats on all players.
So if you're a flying
fan (or just plain flighty), with a taste for history and/or valour, Microsoft's
Combat Flight Simulator is a must have.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think