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Air Warrior II

This was another of my boot sale finds. The edition I found was part of Blue Byte’s  white boxed “Classics” range. However this game was originally produced by Interactive Magic. The version reviewed is Air Warrior II Version 1.01a and I’m not aware of any patches to this.

To cut a long story short it is basically client software for the Air Warrior online game. However also like HC BoB it has been dressed up with more offline features like missions and modem to modem play to make it more attractive as a stand alone flight sim.

The online Air Warrior systems are apparently defunct now - so I won’t attempt to cover the online features. A much more comprehensive history/description of the online Air Warrior systems/community can be found on the following pages:

Main menu screen

The game dates to 1997 (though this Blue Byte edition is 1998)  and features over 35 different planes from WWI, WWII and Korea. There is an Instant Action mode but this gives you no options as to what/where or when you fly. Much more flexibility can be obtained through selecting individual missions where not only can you select the theatre of operations (eg Europe, The Great War etc) but also the type of plane you are flying.

The game also features a very useful built in database of all plane types with historical and flight characteristics details and also gives you the opportunity to test fly each aircraft. There is a similar feature for the ground vehicles but I didn’t bother checking this out too much as they are really intended for online play.

Theatre Menu

All the various menu/setup screens are very attractive but also very static. Any hope that the game might be equally pretty are dashed when actually flying.

WWI cockpit in Normal mode

The picture above shows the ‘Normal mode’. The actual flight window is quite small but you do get a useful array of instruments which are very useful for takeoff and landing. In this case the plane was probably the Focker Triplane - but most planes look similar.

There is also a ‘Wide screen mode’ which is similar but with a bigger flight window and a few additional bits of info - but no instruments. The 2 pictures below show the ‘Full screen mode’ which is best for actual dogfighting. The WWI ‘Wide screen mode’ seems to lack all instruments - but WWII ones actually have some of the instruments in the flight window as in the 2nd picture below.

WWI cockpit in Full Screen mode

What is definitely lacking though is external views so you can’t see what your whole plane looks like from the outside (although you can look at your wings and tail by looking around the cockpit with the cursor keys or joystick hat switch).

You also can only see enemy planes in any detail by flying close to them - unlike say IL-2 Sturmovik or Jane’s Attack Squadron where you can view the enemy plane up close at any time to check damage inflicted.

The planes when you do get to see them are fairly basic filled polygon shapes with no shading - though you do get country markings.

Having said all that - its clear the designers have concentrated on the actual flying rather than the graphics and indeed they aren’t too bad considering the age of the game.

WWII cockpit in Full Screen mode

The lack of outside views makes Air Warrior II a poor candidate for trying forced landings. However you can land with your wheels retracted though thankfully (unlike Jane’s Attack Squadron) you can’t take off again. Any sort of landing off runway looks a little fraught due to the numbers of trees which spring from nowhere - however these appear to be cosmetic and you can fly/drive straight through them.

A couple of other issues worth noting. Gun fire is pretty feeble looking and you don’t get the feeling that you are in control of a bunch of machine guns/cannons. Also ammo is limited to realistic amounts so its easy to run out in the middle of a scenario. Another curious factor is that the guns continue to fire for a fraction of a second after you release the trigger. This is not too much of a problem but feels odd if you are used to finer control in other games.

In conclusion - you could have quite a lot of fun with this game. There are quite a few planes to try and a fair few missions (apparently over 300 - and apparently a basic mission editor is included also) to get to grips with. However in the final analysis it is also very dated and quite honestly you might as well play something a bit more modern unless your computer is very old and slow. In this case the game is intended for a high end 486 or low end Pentium PC running Windows 95. I tested it under Windows XP Home on a much faster AthlonXP chip.

The box contents of the Blue Byte version are fairly uninspiring. As well as the CD-ROM and the registration card there is a slim manual which deals mainly with setup/configuration - but not really about the game itself. There is a printed key list which is a bonus and a much fuller manual in electronic form on the CD-ROM.

Air Warrior II was originally produced by Interactive Magic (c)1997. This edition reviewed was Blue Byte’s white boxed “Classics” version from 1998.

Review written December 2005

All text and images Copyright © 2000-2011 Roland Givan, unless otherwise stated. All Rights Reserved. Game artwork copyright their respective publishers.

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