This was another of my cash and carry buys - bought the same day as MS Combat Simulator 3. Tempting as it was to try the latter – I thought I’d give Jane’s Attack Squadron a blast first.
I must admit I first thought Jane’s Attack Squadron had come out on a budget label - but I think its just a cheaper re-release by the original publisher. It has a small manual (full one on the CD) and keyboard card in the box. The software supplied was v1.00B – but there is an online patch to get to 1.01B.
Not bad at all – is the general verdict – though nothing really unique to lift it away from the competition. It certainly helped that it was cheap, being only about a fifth of the original release price. Probably the nicest feature is the extensive damage model. It not often in a game like this you get a detailed commentary of the damage being inflicted on both sides – and aeroplane graphics and handling reflect the damage sustained too.
On the subject of graphics – I’ve been playing in the default 800x600 – and the quality is good. The Spitfire is a disappointment though. The colour is a bit bright but more importantly the shape is not great. Unlike other games like Rowan’s BofB – the Janes AS Spitfire looks ugly and lacks the fine lines of the original.
Having said that the Spitfire is a joy to fly (as indeed is the 109).
The same can’t be said for the Fw190. Maybe this game just implements the Fw190 more accurately than I’m used to – but it seems totally outclassed by the Spitfire (even the MK1 Spitfire). After some practise I was able to use the better climb of the Fw190 to gain an advantage and then use a turning dive to pounce on the Spitfire. A hard learnt lesson was to make sure you turn whilst climbing (use the rudder for this) as if the Spitfire gets into your 6 o’clock position - you can’t out climb its bullets!
The Spitfire can easily out turn the Fw190 so my normal tight turn approach was completely ineffectual and trying this just left me a wallowing duck. Another point to note is that the Fw190 has a relatively high stalling speed so needs to be kept flying a bit faster than the Spitfire
There is much to like about this game and indeed I played it for many more hours than I thought I might – but a few other points to note:
Belly/wheels up landings usually just result in a crash. However its is sometimes possible to very carefully land the plane wheels up - with no damage whatsoever! You can then happily restart the engine and take off again. This was apparently a known feature in the original version - but the 1.01B patch was supposed to fix it.
If you do land wheels down - they don’t rotate in external view whilst you taxi.
Bailout is <SHIFT>+B, not <CNTRL> EEE as stated on the keyboard card
War Emergency Power (WEP) is on the # key next to <RETURN> on my UK keyboard – not \ as stated on the keyboard card
Throttle control not working on my Saitek Cyborg Evo joystick - though this apparently is a common problem with many joysticks. At least with the Saitek programming software its possible to work around it - but the results are less than ideal.
I have since upgraded to a Saitek Cyborg Evo Force joystick - and the throttle control works fine on this. The force feedback is quite effective in this game - at least to the extent that it supplies an various degrees of vibration which enhance the feeling you are actually flying a plane.
Or at least the Saitek Cyborg Evo Force joystick did solve the problem until I changed computers and the lack of throttle is back again :-( Oh well - <SHIFT>+ keypad + turns on max throttle. I’ve also increased all the graphics quality sliders and upped the resolution to 1024x768 and despite my lowly graphics card (Nvidia 7500LE) the game still flies and is still very playable!
Jane’s Attack Squadron is published by XICAT Interactive (c)2002.
Reviewed October 2004