|This one wont take longall you really need to know
about Luftwaffe Commander is not to buy it. Dont even buy it if its shiny SSI cover
beckons to you from the cut-rate bargain bin--whence, for sure, its destiny lies. Hell,
dont even borrow it. Luftwaffe Commander is a damn shame, an example of what happens
when a game in beta testing is pushed out the door because the mother company freaks out,
which is clearly what happened here. The way I (and everyone elsethis aint
rocket science) figure it, someone way up the food chain saw competing flight sims like
EAW and World War II Fighters hit the racks about Christmas time. Then, through some weird
sort of marketing calculus that defies human understanding and has no sort of truck with
human dignity either, they decided that the best thing to do was throw this half-completed
sim out there just in time for the holidays. Merry Christmas, baby.
This is made all the more painful by the fact that this game could have been a winner. LC covers Luftwaffe operations from 1937 to 1945and allows you to fly everything from Heinkel biplanes over Andalusia in the Spanish Civil War to the first operational jet, the ME-262, over the Reich during its last days. In between, it covers the battles of France and Britain, as well as the undeservedly-ignored Eastern Front. Except for the lack of some Mediterranean and North African operations, thats pretty complete coverage. And sometimes, peeping from underneath all the games dross, some gold glimmersthere are some accurate flight models and some interesting missions and some good graphicsbut overall, Luftwaffe Commander is a huge disappointment.
Why? Well, lets get this over in one extended and vicious paragraph. Flight models are very inconsistentsome, like the 109s, seem pretty solid, but others, like the He-51s, seem way, way, too forgiving. Damage models are peculiarwhile getting hit does sometimes affect turning and climbing, theres seemingly no logic to this damage, since about the only graphic representation of damage is copious smoke issuing from your plane. And the games AI needs a brain transplant. While you can issue wingman commands, this seems to be some sort of cruel joke. Wingmen pretty much do as they damn please most of the time, blithely ignoring your repeated calls to cover your six or attack enemy planes--which I dont think was Luftwaffe SOP, though I may be wrong. And enemy AI is just as demented. Its very, very, tough to shake anyone on your sixthey hold on like glue, maintaining their position no matter what you try. On the other hand, if you can lure enemy planes on to the deck, they augur in like moles. Thats right, the most effective maneuver in the game is to get a bogey on your tail, descend to about 400 feet, and start juking around until they pancake. You wont get a kill, but the sense of selfless sacrifice is worth it, right? The games interface and view system are clunky and combat-unfriendly, the campaigns are difficult without being much fun, and whoever they got to do the voice-overs has an absolutely awful German accent; I mean, Hogans Heroes has more convincing Kraut accents. Hell, Hogans Heroes is a more convincing representation of World War II.
Graphics are a mixed but mostly dismal bag; planes dont look too bad, but the terrain is dated and often glitchy, and effectslike tracers and cloudsare laughable. The game only runs on 640x480, so even Voodoo 2s in SLI arent going to give you very smooth graphics, and there are a lot of messy little clipping problems and seams.
I really wanted
to like this game; I like almost all of the stuff SSI does, and I admired their decision
to cover arenas of the war like the Spanish Civil War and the Russian Front in LC. And
frankly, Im not as thrilled with CFS and EAW and WWII Fighters as everyone else
isI thought this might be the sim for me. But its not. Its sad to say,
but theres no reason for anyone to play this game.