Review: B17 flying fortress, WW2 atmosphere that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat
Let’s get one thing straight. This isn’t your normal flight simulator, where you leap into the cockpit and destroy the entire German/Russian/Iraqi airforce within the first five minutes, using your super hi-tec megadeath missiles. This one is going to take you a long time to learn about, and a long time to really get to grips with. As you may have guessed, this game is based on the B17 Flying Fortress, which was first unveiled on 16 July 1935. After the US declared war on Germany in 1941, the 8th Air Force was sent to England to join the British in the high-altitude precision bombing of occupied Europe. Which is where you come in. The B17 had a crew of 10: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, radio operator, engineer and four gunners. You take the position of airplane commander, which means that you can step in and take over any of the positions. All of them can be computer-controlled, so you can just sit and watch if you want. However, your crew are not too experienced to begin with, so you’ll need to keep an eye on them – a helping hand improves their skills. For instance, the navigator has the annoying habit of getting lost on the way home, but if you put him right, he learns from his mistakes. You begin by choosing your bomber, its noise art and name. Then you can choose either a training flight (bomb the Isle of Sheppey) or a proper mission over occupied territory. Whichever you choose, you get the option of viewing a short film of a reconnaissance flight over both the primary and secondary targets. You’ve got to find the target yourself (none of the laser-guided nonsense), so it makes sense to pay attention to this and not attack the local nursery school by mistake. Once you’re happy with it, you accept the mission, and you’re deposited on the airfield. Taxi over to the runway behind the other members of the squadron, and take off in order. You’re in the pilot’s seat to begin with, but if you’re not sure about this, you can switch over to computer control by pressing ‘M’. For the first couple of missions, it may be an idea to let the computer take control while you look around and familiarise yourself with the plane. As you’d expect, there’s a lot of waiting around while you’re flying to your destination. You can jump through to the next point when something’s happening by pressing Alt T, or accelerate time by pressing Alt A. But the careful that you are where you think you are – it’s easy for a small error in navigation to send you several hundreds miles off target. If you do get lost, you’ll need to have a look around and see what local sights you can spot. The tactical view is also useful, because it tells you what the nearest significant tow or airfield is. Flying Fortress is a game that will last and last, your crew can retire after 25 missions, but you’ll probably want to start off a new one. If you’re after a quick thrill, you won’t find it here. But if you’re looking for something that’s accurate and atmospheric, this is The one to get.