Aces Over Europe is the third and best game in the Aces series, which also includes Red Baron and Aces of the Pacific. AOE is also the best game in the series in terms of graphics, offering Gouraud shading and a higher resolution mode.
The Aces series of games was basically Dynamix/Sierra's answer to LucasArts' Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe series. Though I never played SWotL, I LOVED the Aces series, especially Aces over Europe.
The premise of this game is that you are a pilot flying for either the US Army Air Forces or the RAF in World War II. You can play the game in career mode, in which you're given random missions such as intercepting bombers, scrambling as your airfield is attacked or bombing V2 rocket sites. Occasionally, as the war progresses, you'll get to fly in a historic battle. If you do well, you'll be awarded medals which you can view in your profile.
If you don't feel like delving into the campaign mode, there are many 'pick-up' missions you can fly. For example, you can choose to dogfight a famous ace from any of the three air forces in the game, and you can mix and match planes. You can, for example, have a German fighter ace flying a Spitfire, while you attack him in a Focke-Wulf. And that brings me to the planes. There are twenty different planes, all with different flight characteristics and cockpit graphics.
When this game came out in 1993, the level of detail was excellent. Obviously it looks very dated now, with no texture maps and mostly just Gouraud shaded polygons, but it still plays very well. It's not realistic either, but they did the best they could on the hardware available back then (mostly 386/486 computers without 3D accelerators). There are blackouts, sun blindness, and each aircraft has unique flight characteristics, but that's about it. There are various difficulty settings as well, allowing you to customize the game to be slightly more realistic (making it possible for ammo/fuel to run out and for your guns to jam).
If you like flight simulations, you really shouldn't miss this pioneer. It's a shame the wonderful 220-page manual (ahh those were the days!) couldn't be included , but I believe that would have worn out my scanner.
Originally, this game was very difficult to get working on most systems, because it had ridiculous memory requirements. Though the box says 4Mb of RAM, it also requires over 600Kb of free conventional memory and 1Mb Expanded memory, which was difficult to have when DOS required mouse drivers, disk cache programs, TWO CD-ROM drivers, EMM386, etc. Most computers needed a boot disk to get it working. Thankfully, it works without fuss in DOSBox 0.61 or above under Windows XP! It also runs fairly smoothly on fast computers (despite all the 3D graphics) with DOSBox set to a high number of CPU cycles.
Works on Windows XP with DOSBox 0.61 or above and Windows 95 in DOS Mode (but very difficult to get working without a boot disk).
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