Aces over Europe - Review

ACES OVER EUROPE doesn't deviate much from its predecessor, ACES OVER PACIFIC. In this installment, the aircraft silhouettes have been slightly refined, but the changes are minor. ACES OVER EUROPE allows players to fly various fighter aircraft from the countries participating in World War II. There are several campaigns to choose from, all focusing on the final two years of the war, including the Normandy landings and the fall of the Third Reich. Like ACES OVER PACIFIC, the game is a well-executed simulator. The graphics and sound are of a consistently high standard, considering the time when the game was released.

You'll need to master two different types of tasks: aerial combat and ground attack. Regardless of the type of aircraft chosen, you'll encounter both types of missions, albeit in different proportions. If you prefer only aerial combat, choose the Allied side and opt for aircraft like the P-51D Mustang or Spitfire. Those inclined towards precise bombing will be more satisfied with twin-engine Mosquitoes or Lightnings.

During aerial combat, seeing an enemy aircraft behind you will be the last sight you register, as they'll soon shoot you down. How to avoid an enemy you haven't spotted yet, and when you do, it's already too late to dodge? It's easiest to shoot down an enemy fighter from behind. You'll have the most time for aiming, and it will be difficult for the opponent to escape your fire with a surprising maneuver you couldn't copy. When you're tailing an opponent, remember that there may be more enemy aircraft in the sky, which they could call for help. The worst thing you can do is forget to regularly check your six. If no help arrives, you shouldn't let the enemy escape. Computer pilots have a very limited repertoire of evasive maneuvers, although they execute them decisively and consistently. A classic maneuver is a barrel roll. Performing this maneuver leads to a so-called turning fight, where combatants, by tightening the turn, try to get on the tail of their opponent and place the silhouette of their aircraft in the crosshairs.

Such a way of conducting a fight will be appropriate if you have a very maneuverable aircraft. If the enemy aircraft is as maneuverable as yours or even more so, this doesn't determine the outcome of the fight yet. The second factor affecting the turn radius is the speed of the aircraft. You can tighten the turn by reducing engine power or by pointing the nose of the aircraft slightly above the horizon. It seems that enemy pilots don't fully exploit these possibilities, and when you gain an advantage, they are more likely to save themselves by changing the direction of the turn rather than by further tightening it.

During combat, you should constantly remember the strengths and weaknesses of your own aircraft. If your aircraft is inferior to the enemy in maneuverability, it's not a tragedy yet. Maybe it has a higher rate of climb? For example, the Lightning stands no chance in a turning fight with the FockeWulf (Fw-190A), but it climbs faster. Use this property to quickly regain altitude and attack the enemy from above. Maneuver primarily in the vertical rather than the horizontal. If you want to avoid being shot down, never fly straight! If you're being shot at from a distance, don't make straight maneuvers in just one plane. If the enemy is aiming at you, they'll have time to adjust the shot. If you execute a sharp turn, both vertically and horizontally, you can transition from a defensive maneuver to an attack right away. You can confuse computer pilots. They're not acrobatics aces, but they aim as if they've spent their whole lives on a shooting range. Don't recklessly fly into their line of fire!

Bombing is a relatively simple task. The target is stationary, the aircraft flies straight, and the bombs follow a parabolic path. The easiest way is to fly over the target horizontally at an altitude just above 1000 feet, press F6, and drop the bombs when the target appears at the top of the screen. This way, it's easiest to hit the target, but it's also easy to be shot down by anti-aircraft artillery. Bombing from a dive is different. In terms of aiming, it's similar to rocket attacks. However, rockets have their own propulsion, and you can expect them to fly towards the target you have in the crosshairs. Bombs don't have engines, so you have to aim beyond the target you want to hit and release the bomb not too high above the target.

Attacking with rockets and cannon fire shouldn't be problematic. The best flight path is a gentle dive. A bigger problem may be finding the attack target. If it's a train or a column of tanks, you definitely won't notice them from an altitude of over 3000 feet. You need to lower your flight to 1000 feet. If you can't find the target at all, look at the map and call up RECON PHOTO. Below the photo, you'll have the current distance and course to the target.

If you're fighting in a campaign, the command imposes missions on you. If you choose the FLY SINGLE MISSION option, you can choose:

  • TRAINING MISSION - various training missions allowing you to familiarize yourself with aircraft, weapons, and combat tactics. During training, you can practice all types of missions.
  • DOGFIGHT A FAMOUS ACE - aerial combat with one of the aces of the aviation of that time. A showdown with a master of aerial combat is very difficult.
  • DOGFIGHT A SQUADRON - aerial combat between the squadron you command and enemy aircraft. During this battle, you can practice teamwork. In this game, reconnaissance of the enemy is very important, as you may have just shot down a wingman of an allied aircraft.
  • FIGHTER SWEEP - a mission related to aerial combat.
  • SCRAMBLE - enemy aircraft attack your airfield. Your task is to protect ground installations from attack.
  • ESCORT BOMBERS - your task is to escort a bomber group. You must escort the bombers to the target and then ensure their return to base.
  • FLY A HISTORIC MISSION - you can choose one of several missions that really took place during World War II.
  • INTERCEPT BOMBERS - your task is to attack an enemy bomber group. Surprise is an important factor in these missions.
  • ANTI-SHIPPING STRIKE - attack on enemy ships. This is a difficult task, and generally, such missions were carried out by naval aviation equipped with torpedoes. When attacking, remember to approach as low as possible and quickly escape the fire zone after the attack.
  • INTERDICTION - attack on specific ground targets in enemy territory. Analyze aerial photographs with marked targets to avoid destroying barns instead of bunkers. When attacking with rockets, remember to aim well at the impact point, and when bombing, it's worth using the downward view.
  • CLOSE SUPPORT - attack on enemy targets. In general, in these missions, you'll be attacking armored columns and truck convoys.
  • CROSSBOW - you participate in operations aimed at weakening the enemy's military potential. You'll participate in attacks on various targets, such as radars, airfields, and warehouses.

Screens from Screenshots archive