Flight Combat: Thunder Over Europe
Combat Unlimited?
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Posted: 05/15/1999
Written by: Scott Udell

Shot One You can understand why the Stuka was feared by anyone underneath it…
Sim fans have long wondered what would be the result of combining the Flight Unlimited series' excellent flight modeling with aerial combat, and it looks like they'll soon have their answer. Long rumored and finally announced, Flight Combat will be Looking Glass's take on World War II aerial battles over Europe.

Key to any game in the Flight family is its modeling, and Looking Glass is working to get its trademark quality in this regard into every aspect of Flight Combat's modeling. The landscape in the game comes care of the latest generation of Flight Unlimited terrain engine, sporting over a million square miles of authentically detailed terrain (fans of the series will realize this is a departure from its history—earlier Flight Unlimited games had much smaller areas rendered in extremely high detail). The terrain will accurately replicate underlying elevations and overlying vegetative cover, and damage dealt to the poor dirt will be persistent. In addition to the terrain, the environment will be modeled too; expect to fight in rain, snow, and sleet in addition to those sunny days. The flight model of Looking Glass's civilian sims will be enhanced with flight test data and information from plane operations manuals.

Shot Two In the driver's seat of a B-24 Liberator
The models of the planes themselves will include the now-industry-standard high polygon models and rendered 3D cockpits based on photographs of the actual planes. The major plane surfaces—flaps, gear, dive brakes, and even canopies—will be modeled and will "react accordingly." The damage modeling is physics-driven and portrayed in 3D; Looking Glass says you won't see the exact same kind of damage twice, an effect that will be enhanced by "explosions, shrapnel, and concussive blast effects." Looking Glass is even working on modeling hundreds of different AI pilots; they say that "aces will pull near impossible maneuvers while green pilots will run home to mama at the first sight of tracer fire."

Shot Three Looking out the glass nose of a He-111
The game will ship with 16 different flyable types planes, and some of these will be further subdivided into different variants, making for a total of 24 flyable craft (six non-flyable craft are included as well). The types of planes are varied as well, from prop-fighters like the Mustang, Spitfire, and Bf-109, ground-pounders like the P-47, bombers like the B-24, B-17, and Ju-88, and a few exotics like the Me-163 and Me-262. Fans of the big bombers will be happy to hear that they'll be able to be gunners on the multi-engined craft.

The game will come with two campaigns: the Battle of Britain and the aerial assault on Germany. Looking Glass says that "missions include intense dogfighting, strategic bombing, …, night fighting, naval attacks, and … air-to-ground attacks." Interestingly, the game will include night fighting over Berlin or London, something a small coterie of sim fans will be very happy indeed to see. While you're fighting in the skies, things won't be sitting still on the ground; according to Looking Glass, "moving tanks and ships duke it out on a dynamic battlefield." The game will even sport a recording and replay system, a feature long missing from most flight sims, but one we're very happy to have return. Get ready to see a bunch of those films hit the 'net when the game releases this Fall.
Shot Four A Bf-109 soars over European greenary Shot Five A spitfire cockpit in all it's 3D glory
©1999 Strategy Plus, Inc.