Combat Flight Simulator 3: Battle For Europe
by Microsoft Game Studios
The long awaited sequel to the great Combat Flight Simulator 2 is finally with us. This time there is less of a concentration upon dogfighting and more concentration upon combating the ground forces. You have access to 18 aircraft, many missions and even a dynamic campaign system. Of course all these features are practically useless if it doesn't hang together well as an overall product. Let's strap ourselves into the cockpit and take this Combat Flight Simulator 3 for spin.
The game enables you to take part in Quick Combat (which offers quick skirmishes such as dogfights etc.), Missions (these offer a choice of Historical, What If and Training, although they are not tutorials), a Campaign (it enables you to take part in dynamic campaign) and Multiplayer battles. You're not just confined to the role of the pilot in CFS3. In some missions you can also assume the role of the gunner and bombardier. The F8 key will put you in the gunner's seat whilst the F7 key puts you in the bombardier's position. These features are not deal clinchers in themselves but it does add to the atmosphere.
This time around the developers have decided to give the campaign section a kind of RPG quality to it. When you begin a campaign you get to choose your pilot and decide what kind of pilot he will be. Your pilot can either be a Bomber pilot or a Fighter pilot. You also get to choose your pilot's age and this determines his starting level. Your pilot has three basic attributes, Vision, G-tolerance and Health. As you gain points through the campaign you can use them to improve any one of the aforementioned attributes. This adds a nice touch to the game and no doubt it is a section of the game that will be built upon for next version.
The game boasts a new graphic engine and whilst it does look good, it comes with a very heavy cost. The main problem with the game is that it has enormous system requirements to get it looking it's best. On an Athlon XP 2000+ coupled with a GeForce4 Ti 4200 the whole thing became far too strenuous to handle at only 1024x768 unless the graphic details where turned down. The problem here is that once you start turning the graphic details down the whole thing becomes ugly. Unless you have a PC far in excess of the one that I used to review this game, you're going to be in for a bumpy ride (in terms of the framerate). If you do have the PC to run the game well though, the game does look good and exceeds the visuals found in Flight Simulator 2002.
The game doesn't represent any problems for deaf gamers. All information is shown by the HUD and all orders and messages appear in text (most of these are solely in text). All mission/campaign objectives are shown in text too. A nice touch in the missions is that instead of having to fly for a long time from a to b you can press X to warp to your next destination. The text appears onscreen to notify you of this. A 3D cone points the way to your next enemy during a battle and this prevents you from becoming disorientated far better than the markings that are on the edge of the screen in most games. One disappointment this time around is down to the smaller DVD style packaging. Those big useful manuals of past versions have been replaced by acrobat files and while the information contained within these files is important, it is a complete pain having to read them onscreen or print them out to read them at your leisure. I'm sure most people would rather pay a little extra to have a proper manual.
If I have any concerns about Combat Flight Simulator 3, other than the super computer requirements it needs, it's that it doesn't really do anything to welcome the newbie to the series. It would have been great to see an in game tutorial that explained everything you need to know. There is nothing basically wrong with the simulation it's just that it feels that it was made for the hardcore flight sim enthusiast (although they would have probably liked more aircraft included) who has a top of the range PC setup with multiple monitors setup to resemble a cockpit.
Overall Game Rating: 7.2/10 A solid sequel but very heavy system demands and an unwelcoming approach to newcomers spoil it from being a great simulation.
Deaf Gamers comment: No problems.