The designers of Fighter Squadron: The Screamin' Demons over Europe call it an "Ultra-Realistic World War II Flight Simulator." Although the game is realistic in many areas, it fails to deliver a complete package. While there are many options and a variety of aircraft, the game never pulls the player fully into the war.
The first problem is the way the game is setup. There is no campaign mode, only individual missions. Activision states that the game includes 90 missions and, although it does, they consist of the same 30 being repeated each time you fly for a different country. Missions themselves can be played in any order as they do not have an impact on anything but your score. It does not matter if a mission fails or if you die, you simply go back to the menu and choose to try the mission again or move on to another one.
Theatres are small so players do not need to spend a lot of time travelling to their targets. Ground targets are included but dogfighting makes up a majority of the game. The aircraft handle realistically most of the time, though some crazy flying can be accomplished without going into a tailspin. Plenty of options are available so that the average gamer can complete all of the missions. Some of the options included are unlimited fuel, unlimited ammunition, a choice to toggle blackouts, red-outs and engine stalls on or off and even an invulnerability mode.
Graphically, everything in the game looks great. Aircraft are detailed inside and out. Views are numerous and can be switched easily. Damage is one of the best parts of the game as individual pieces of each aircraft can be shot off and sent fluttering through the air. When aircraft get hit, they also leave trails of smoke. Landscapes are the main area where the graphics falter. The main problem is that there is not much going on down on the ground. Trees are far and few between with the majority of each landscape made up of rolling hills.
Music works fine for the game but it is best turned down so that you can hear the radio chatter. In-game radio chatter primarily consists of a voice announcing what the locations of enemy fighters are. For example, it might say something like "Bogeys at five o'clock high!" The best sounds occur during the menu screens. When looking at the menus, players are treated to radio announcements that describe what is happening around the world during the war. This is the only part of the game that actually makes you feel as if a war is taking place.
Fighter Squadron: The Screamin' Demons over Europe is not a terrible game, it's just not a great World War II simulation. Plenty of dogfighting is available in single-player mode or over the Internet. However, the game setup just never gives the players the sense of being in a war. At any time players can switch from flying for the United States to fighting for Germany and then back to the United States. A campaign that allows players to fight for something tangible would have made much more sense.
Graphics: All of the aircraft are detailed and the damage they take is great.
Sound: Gunfire and radio transmissions during the menu screens are very good.
Enjoyment: Lack of a campaign mode hurts this game a lot. Dogfighting and Internet combat is what this game is all about.
Replay Value: A map editor does allow players to create their own missions. Also, the computer controlled aircraft know how to fly and will put up a challenging fight.
People who downloaded Fighter Squadron: The Screamin' Demons Over Europe have also downloaded:
Flanker 2.5, Flying Corps Gold, F/A-18E Super Hornet, F-22 Lightning 3, Rowan's Battle of Britain, F-16 Aggressor, Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 2: WWII Pacific Theater, Fighting Steel
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