Jane’s Attack Squadron

Snap104Flying through the Second World War on a shoestring budget.

Originally developed for EA by Looking Glass Studios, Jane’s Fighter Squadron appeared to be extinct when Looking Glass folded in early 2000. That’s when Xicat and Mad Doc Software swooped in out of the blue to rescue not only the game and the Jane’s brand name, but also a number of the original Looking Glass development crew. The result of all that chaos is the World War II flight sim you see before you.

The game is unquestionably an entertaining WWII prop sim in its own right, with a welcome focus on tactical and strategic strike missions over straight dogfighting. The graphics however are at least two years late to the party (just compare them with IL-2 Sturmovik from the same period), and its simpler game design won’t win it any medals either.

In addition to a surprisingly thin collection of training sorties and single missions (only five of each), the game also offers a pair of short, scripted campaigns set on the European western front between 1943 and 1944. Although no traditional pilot career is available, you can fly for either the Allies or the Germans from behind the controls of 15 impressively rendered aircraft, ranging from nimble Spitfire and Messerschmitt fighters to heavy B-24D and Ju-88 bombers (in which you can also man the gunner and bombardier stations).

Snap135The strike, escort, and interception missions have some variety. Enemy AI is quite challenging most of the time, often employing advanced vertical maneuvers and tactics to keep you off their tail. They have an unfair advantage here, however, because their planes (regardless of type) have a much superior climbing ability that lets them soar out of your reach with impunity, leaving you to recover from an unexpected stall whenever you try to pursue them. And while stalls are quite commonplace, a somewhat basic flight model means that spins and advanced torque effects are all but nonexistent.

The damage effects, a central feature to most combat flight sims, are in full effect here. It allows your plane to sustain everything from minor fuel leaks to full-on wing separations. Come crashing down from high altitude and your nimble aircraft will eventually rip into even smaller pieces as it cartwheels down. So despite having some shortcomings, this is by no means a throwaway flight simulation. But it’s also not the cream of the crop, particularly when you sideline it next to IL-2.

System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 16 MB Video, Win98

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