Developed by Oleg Maddox and his team -- the same crew responsible for 2001's award-winning IL-2 Sturmovik -- this realistic-action flight simulation is set during World War II and allows players to climb in the virtual cockpits of famous fighters such as the United States' F6F Hellcat and the Japanese Zero. The game features 16 maps, based on historic locations. Many battles involve air-to-sea combat, and players will also pilot bombers in some missions.
Forget the obscure Russian fighters battling 26 subvariants of the Focke-Wulf 190. With Pacific Fighters, the most recent successor to the IL-2 series, we finally get the planes that those of us who grew up watching Black Sheep Squadron have been dying for: Corsairs and Zeros! Not to mention Wildcats, Hellcats, Lightnings, Dauntlesses, Oscars, Vals, Tonys, and aircraft carriers to land them on. The IL-2 engine and the WWII Pacific theater go together like French fries and chili.
Pacific Fighters can be installed as a standalone game or on top of the IL-2 Sturmovik: Forgotten Battles--Ace expansion pack. If you choose the latter option (making this an expansion pack for a game that was an expansion pack for an expansion pack), the new engine enhancements will be carried over to the earlier games, and those games' aircraft will be available for use in custom missions in Pacific Fighters.which ultimately gives you a grand total of over 150 flyable aircraft. Of these, more than 40 (actually, variants of about 20 planes) are new to Pacific Fighters. Disappointingly, the wide variety of flyable planes doesn't include torpedo bombers such as the Devastator, Avenger, or Kate. The latter two are promised in an upcoming patch, as the developer allegedly ran out of room to ship planes on the two CDs allotted by Ubisoft.
Along with missing planes, there are all kinds of signs that this sim was rushed out the door. Odd combinations such as marines flying P-39s at Midway, British B-29 bomber raids on Tokyo, and rows of parked Russian B-17s will annoy aviation buffs. The A.I.'s suicidal tendencies from earlier games in the series remain and are exacerbated by a desire to fly directly into mountains.
There are a few other things to nitpick over--the view system remains frustrating, the time acceleration/skip feature can leave you staring at planes on autopilot or a blank screen with a ticking clock for many minutes at a time, and some missions lack action. And yet, this is still one of the most enthralling sims since 1942: Pacific Air War. The thrill of bringing a damaged plane back aboard a tossing carrier deck, the excitement of dive-bombing a Japanese carrier, and the shock of re-creating Pearl Harbor are experiences you won't want to miss. New special effects combine with ultradetailed planes and new ship-damage effects to make this the best-looking combat sim yet.
Like in earlier games in the series, you'll find a quick mission generator, a full-blown mission editor, numerous single missions, and dynamic campaigns. The game shines best in multiplayer, where head-to-head carrier battles can contain up to 32 players.
Maddox has done a superb job of supporting previous games in the series, releasing patches that contain not just fixes, but new features and planes as well. Let's hope this trend continues with Pacific Fighters, because with some A.I. tweaks, flyable torpedo bombers, and various bug fixes, this game would be a sim junkie's dream.
People who downloaded Pacific Fighters have also downloaded:
Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 2: WWII Pacific Theater, Heroes of the Pacific, Rowan's Battle of Britain, IL-2 Sturmovik: Forgotten Battles, Jane's WWII Fighters, Red Baron 3D, Jane's Combat Simulations: Attack Squadron, Wings over Vietnam
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