Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator: WWII Europe Series
Windows - 1998
Description of Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator: WWII Europe Series
Say what you like about Microsoft and many of their products, but their Flight Simulator s have always been top notch. They have, however, concentrated on civilian sims, and even though these have been very good, people have been waiting for a sim with some guns in it. Well, it's finally here and it is not surprisingly, an excellent simulator of World War II aircraft and dogfighting. It was to take some time, however, before I could verify this due to some technical difficulties.
Installation of the game wasn't as smooth as could be expected. Apparently, people with high-speed CD-ROMs can expect some difficulties with the installation. The game had trouble finding the files on the CD-ROM and it required a few installs and uninstalls before it managed to settle down on my hard-drive. It still takes some time to find the CD, but fortunately, this never hampered gameplay. According to Microsoft , not many people have this problem, and those who do are encouraged to call the support lines for help. My problem is that I don't live in the US, and I don't really have the economy to make overseas calls and getting support via the Internet is quite complicated. The game runs without problems now, however.
Taking to the skies
After finally getting the game installed, I wanted to try some free-flying. I selected a Spitfire and a place to start and took to the skies. The first thing that hit me was the graphics. They are absolutely gorgeous. The ground looks spectacular, with rolling hills, farms, cities and rivers. After playing Interactive Magic's Carrier Strike Fighter, the term 'photo-realistic terrain', has made me extremely wary. Microsoft quickly put my fears to rest. I simply cannot imagine it looking any better with tessellating textures. From what I have heard, it is very similar to that of Flight Simulator 98. The scenery naturally looks better at high altitudes, but even so, I found that I was able to go down very low before things started to look funny. The only oddity is this blue wall that cuts off the scenery somewhere in the distance. Many games have a wall of fog to save them from having to show landscape at a distance, and this usually looks good enough, but CFS has a blue wall instead which really looks strange.
Aside from the graphics, I was very pleased with the way the aircraft handled. It was a bit more sluggish than I had anticipated, but I quickly got over it. I'll go into the details of the flight-engine later on. Suffice to say at the moment that it is brilliant.
From the main menu, you have a few options. There is a free-flight mode which basically just lets you fly about without having to concern yourself with bad guys trying to gun you down. There is also a training mode which teaches you everything from barrel-rolls to bombing trains and landing your plane with nearly no fuel. If you want to test your dogfighting skills, there is a quick-combat option which puts you up against endless waves of enemy planes. All these modes serve as excellent introductions to the campaign mode, which is the heart of the game.
There are two campaigns you can fly in. These are the Battle of Britain, and the Battle over Europe. BoB has you playing as either the British RAF or the German Luftwaffe, as the German forces fly raid after raid on military and civilian targets in southern Britain. BoE has you flying as either the USAAF or the Luftwaffe as the roles are reversed and the Americans raid Germany. Both campaigns follow history and you will fly missions actually flown by the opposing factions.
CFS gives you eight aircraft to pilot, including craft like the Spitfire, Messerschmitt or the Thunderbolt. You can also download the P51 MSN Gaming zone, weird name, doubt it was present in WWII, but it has a nice Gaming Zone logo on the tail section. It is otherwise very similar to the North American P51D. The are more aircraft in the game which are controlled by computer opponents.
Dogfighting at its best.
The flight engine is nothing short of brilliant. After flying around a bit in free-flight mode, I was immensely impressed with how the aircraft handled, the sound it made and the interactive cockpit. Setting up a quick-combat mission had me flying against a pair of Messerschmitts. The feel of the plane and the sound of machine-guns and bullets pounding into the airframe felt very realistic. Combat damage is very well done. Take a few hits to your control-surfaces and your aircraft will turn like a hog. Smoke of different colours erupt from the plane depending on what has been hit. Controlling a crippled plane is no easy task. I was once required to perform a belly-landing, where I couldn't lower my gears owing to the hydraulics being shot up, the plane would barely turn at all and, the engine had given up on me completely.
You can set the enemy AI at three different settings, and I found the hardest one to be a real challenge. The Rookie setting is easier, but even so, offers a real challenge at times. I never saw enemy planes perform impossible stunts, and I was sometimes able to lure them into crashing. This is just the way it should be. AI shouldn't be flawless, but not stupid either.
One of the hardest, yet the most important thing to obtain, is mastery of your aircraft - being able to perform complicated flight-manoeuvres in the heat of battle is vital. Fortunately, there is a training mode which, besides from the extremes listed above, teach you how to perform all of the basic manoeuvres. These are very well done. A training teacher will talk to you through the steps, and he is, usually, very helpful.
Another important matter to master is aircraft recognition. Friendly-fire accidents were very common during WWII, and even though some planes, like the Spitfire, were easily recognisable from a distance, planes like the Hurricane and Messerschmitt were constantly mixed up. Dogfighting requires you to get up very close to your enemy, and if approaching from the right direction, you could check the markings, but this is by no means easy at all times. There is, however, an option which prints the type of the plane and the distance to it above the target. I felt that this killed the fun-factor completely, but it's a good feature nonetheless. I didn't like it, so I switched it off. I am sure there are gamers who appreciate it (I am sure my comrades-in-arms did).
The two general types of missions are dogfighting and bomber interception. Both have you up against waves of enemy planes, trying to gun down as many as possible with the limited amount of ammunition you have. Bomber interceptions are usually quite hard, because when you reach the formation you usually just have about a minute before they reach their target and start dropping their payload. There is usually just time for one flyby, but the more bombers you manage to bring down, the lighter the damage will be. Only occasionally do you manage to save all the structures you are assigned to protect.
In addition to air-superiority, there is the occasional bombing run against enemy structures or naval vessels. The weapons primarily used are cannon, rockets and regular bombs. Which weapons you can mount depends on the plane. These missions are generally quite challenging, because managing to make your bombs land on target can be very difficult, but also because ground vehicles and AA-guns are usually assigned to protect your targets. Cannons and rockets can effectively be used to take these out, though.
There are also a few missions outside of actual history, which are added more for fun than for historical accuracy. One mission for instance, has you strafing a generals car which is parked (with him inside it) under the Eifel tower in Paris - and yes, you can fly under the tower.
The two campaigns you can choose from are Battle of Britain and Battle over Europe. All campaigns, and the missions in them, have historical ties and you will be going on missions actually flown during the war. This is quite nice, since it enhances the feel of actually flying in a war, but it does so to the point of frustration and monotony. Flying for the Brits in BoB has you flying bomber interceptions 95% of the time. It quickly got boring.
The campaigns are tied together by a set of pre-designed missions. Win or lose, you can always move on to the next ones as if nothing has happened. This is good in the sense that if you get stuck on a mission, you can always move on, but it's bad because you really feel that you have no influence whatsoever in how the war progresses. The missions will look the same every time, regardless of how well you have flown the previous ones. The only difference will be your medals and score. Also, there is no feature to refly missions you have flown before. The game saves automatically where you left off, and you will be stuck there. You can have several pilots running simultaneously, but they are still just stats and no personality.
The interface in the game is slick and well designed. It allows you to easily access plane data, pilots, and missions to fly. The cockpits all look like the real thing, and you can flip the switches using either the mouse or keyboard commands. There is also a help library which you can use and instantly access from the game, but that part is not well done at all. It is a simple help-database, of the same type you would find for Word or Excel - not a WWII military base. It's really quite annoying when you are looking through your aeroplanes, trying to get into the spirit of things, only to have you booted out into Windows as soon as you want help on something. The feeling that you are actually part of an ongoing campaign is never really present, and it's a bit sad that Microsoft couldn't take the time to actually implement the database into the game. This is easy coding, and it's a shame that it has been overlooked.
The best part about the interface is, however, customisability. Everything in the game engine can be customised. If you want to fly as realistically as possible, set the flight mode to realistic, switch of all target-locking functions an such, and take to the sky. If, on the other hand, you want to do some solid blasting, switch on the magic radar and the magic arrow pointing you towards the enemy. Enable the aircraft identification text, make yourself invulnerable and give your plane an unlimited supply of ammunition. The whole thing is extremely well implemented and ensures that this game will be enjoyed by a wide crowd of simmers.
You also have the possibility to import other planes into combat and create your own missions. You can fly against Boeing 747s above New York, or fly your Sopwith Camel in an attack on a bomber formation. I don't own another Microsoft simulator so I really couldn't try out this feature but it does add longevity for those of you who love to tinker with your planes and missions. You can take any aircraft created with Flight Shop, put guns on it and go to battle. The programs to do this are, however, not supported by Microsoft, which is a bit odd.
The manual is also worth special mention. It is some 250 pages long, and it's very good. Not only does it cover all the aircraft you will be flying and how to operate them, it also covers the history of the war very well, informing you what happened and how the aircraft came to change the course of the war. It was all a very interesting read, and Microsoft deserves credit for it. It is also quite amusing in that it include humorous sketches made by a WWII fighter pilot with a knack for drawing.
The bottom line
So is this game worth the money? As it is quite expensive, that question is still tough to answer. If you want a pure WWII aircraft combat simulator, this is an excellent choice. The flight model is superior, dogfighting is very well done, and every aircraft is unique. The game has nearly no atmosphere, however. You never truly feel that you are actually part of a war. This is probably due to the fact that Microsoft wanted this simulator not only to have an accurate flight model, but also to guide you through the events of the war. If you already own Microsoft's Flight Simulator 98, you will be offered a £10 rebate upon purchase. Customisability and multiplayer support through Microsoft's gaming zone helps add to longevity. The game is also remarkably stable, apart from the first problems with the CD. It has never crashed while I was flying, and no major bugs have been spotted. In short, if you are looking for a good combat flight simulator, then this is an excellent choice. Just don't expect any engrossing campaign play.
Review By GamesDomain
Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator: WWII Europe Series has the following addons available: Wings Over China: Air Battles of the Flying Tigers and Pacific Theatre, don't miss them!
Captures and Snapshots
Comments and reviews
Voodoos&Pentium2s 2022-09-19 0 point
I haven't had any luck getting this to run properly on Windows 11. Colors appear pink. Not sure if its the AMD Radeon drivers glitching with 16 bit color or not. Works great on the Windows 98 rig though!
TheChristian 2022-08-23 0 point
This game shares the Flight Simulator 98 engine. So you can load in FS98's world map into CFS. It made for a lot of fun online.
Tharinda 2022-02-09 1 point
`file corrupt` I had this problem but i am download ISO Version Recommended English version 349 MB Now I have Not Coming`file corrupt` Massege.
cyber 0 2022-01-06 -1 point
Do I have to pay a hundred bucks just to dual boot my new computer to win xp just to run this sim? In win 11 it will not recognize my joystick. WTHF?
adem 2020-11-04 -15 points
And in your country? is it legal ? i found it selling on fnac.com or amazon, and i highly suspect you to be distributing it illigally.
Scott M 2020-08-11 0 point
I used to play this game a lot. Then I gave it away at a garage sale for free. Not really I let my brothers friend have the money.
gamer pc no cd room 2019-11-09 -16 points
WTF!? my PC dont have a CD ROOM slot, can anyone help?! I've even plugged my old joystick...
Cmte coelho 2019-10-31 0 point
Excelente jogo muito facil de instalar estou me divertindo bastante e derrubando muitos aviões inimigos. ah! ah! ah!. valeu . Um abraço.
Flyer 2018-12-17 -2 points
It's working fine for me..... I can install and play it. You just have to use any virtual drive software.
omega 2018-07-05 0 point
tried 3 times to burn, keep getting told `file corrupt` anybody else had this problem?
retrogamer 2018-06-14 4 points
I used Virtual Clone drive to mount the .img, but I can't access the drive/disc
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