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Jane's Attack Squadron (PC)
A remnant of the late Electronic Arts Jane's brand comes back from the dead, with mixed results.
By Bernard Dy | May 4, 2002

The Lowdown: Attack Squadron is playable, but definitely incomplete.
Pros: Performs well on mid-range machines, lots of options and combat aids, potential for community enhancements, nice editor.
Cons: Weak manuals, lack of exacting realism, stability issues, dated graphics.

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Platform:  Windows
Game Type:  Simulation
Developer:  Mad Doc
Publisher:  Xicat Interactive

Play it in GameSpy Arcade
It's hard to say whether sim fans should be happy that yet another sim title made it alive to market, or if they should be upset that it's not quite what they expected. Jane's Attack Squadron originally looked to be a part of Electronic Arts' respected Jane's Combat Simulations line, but with EA deciding that the only sim the company really wanted was The Sims, the proud brand had its wings shot off. After two years and much negotiation, members from the original development team continued the title's development in a new company, Mad Doc, and with a new publisher, Xicat Interactive.

Reality Strikes

Gamers will quickly realize this rebirth of the Jane's Combat Simulations name is a different beast than the one they knew. Gone are the thorough manuals, the exacting realism, and the completeness characterizing many prior Jane's releases. There are manuals in digital format installed with the game, but they're not to the standards of the professional printed manuals of earlier Jane's releases. The manual covers game operation reasonably well, though there are some discrepancies in the keyboard command charts, and little of the history and background data that made the other Jane's manuals great reads. The relaxed flight models make it tough to keep pilots honest. Stalls and spins are mild, and defensive guns on large bombers seem too lethal. Landings, on the other hand, can sometimes be too unforgiving. Players happy with the realism of Il-2 Sturmovik will be disappointed.

There are also a few stability issues. I encountered occasional crashes during single-player games, and also in a multiplayer game when I tried to use a bomber. The visuals in the sim are presentable, but clearly a step down from the latest sims, something you might expect of a title two years overdue. Depicting a gaggle of heavy bombers keeping formation while contrails stream behind them and flak bursts fill the sky is a feat Attack Squadron does well, though the flak never seemed to affect the bombers. Other quirks of the graphic engine's age show up in the virtual cockpit dashboards (which aren't as functional or readable as newer sim equivalents), and the low-level terrain graphics, problems Il-2 Sturmovik and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 have made strides toward improving.

Some Good News

The terrain looks good up high, not as good down low.
Fortunately, the performance on a mid-range machine is good, and multiplayer performance via GameSpy Arcade is also good (outside of the game's crashes). Attack Squadron also tries to focus on the strike role in WWII, rather than solely on the dogfighting as many sims do.Il-2 Sturmovik does a great job with the air-to-ground aspect, but strategic bombers like the B-24 Liberator and the Avro Lancaster are interesting airplanes you don't see in most sims. Even when Attack Squadron includes fighters it recognizes their air-to-ground roles.

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