1943. The war in Europe rages on. The United States gives men the opportunity to leave the war and go home if they fly twenty-five missions with the US 8th Air Force. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Join a bomber crew, serve for three months at most and then go home? It can't be that bad... But you still have to worry about German anti-aircraft artillery, and of course their mighty Luftwaffe. Twenty-five missions doesn't sound that easy now, does it?
Microprose's B-17 Flying Fortress gives you the chance to command your own personalized B-17 bomber through twenty-five missions. Although you are the pilot, you can switch to any other position in the bomber. Command a gun turret and defend your plane and your wingmen from German airplanes. Navigate your airplane and make sure it's going on course. Target enemy ground structures using the Norden Bombsight and drop bombs on them.
B-17 does its best to recreate the entire flying experience as accurately as possible. For every mission you take off at your assigned airbase, fly into formation, and move in on your target while fending off enemy fighters and hoping that the flak turrets on the ground don't hit you. Once you've dropped your bombs, you fly home and try to land the plane in one piece. Each member of your crew is trained in one or more fields pertaining to the smooth operation of a bomber, such as gunnery, piloting, first aid, and navigation.
Unfortunately, you do not get any escorts, so you are pretty much on your own. Apart from that, the gameplay is all right. The graphics are (for the most part) pretty good, aside from the fact that most of the time the colors are rather dull. When your bomber is rolling along the airfield, the outside movements are choppy when you are moving at slow speeds. Taking off is pretty hard to learn, and once you figure out where the runway is, you'll need to practice a lot before you can finally manage to get off the ground. Sadly, the game's technicalities don't get any easier from that point on, but it does make the game much more realistic.
If you are to at least get off the ground, the manual comes in very handy. I recommend at least printing out the keyboard map so you'll know what each button does.
The main download offers the latest updated version. The stuff you'll find in the extras section, like the Original Not Updated Game Version and the 2.0 Update are there as a bonus, or curiosity. You don't need to apply them on the main archive.