Format: PC
Jowood Games

9 006113 142058
Age Restrictions: 12+
01 June 2007

In 1914, The Great War - WWI - began in Europe. By 1917, the Allied powers of France, England, Italy and others were on the ropes against the German juggernaut. Some altruistic young Americans disagreed with the war. They volunteered to fight alongside their counterparts in France; some in the infantry, some in the Ambulance Corps. A handful of others had a different idea: they decided to learn how to fly. The first of them - a squadron of only 38 - became known as the Lafayette Escadrille. This is their story...

Flyboys, is a World War I flight combat game, is inspired by the courageous tale of the young American men who would become known as the legendary Lafayette Escadrille. They were ordinary boys who volunteered for the First World War looking for adventure, and in the process, they became heroes.

Forced to abandon his family's ranch, Blaine Rawlings finds his future in a newsreel chronicling the adventures of young aviators in France. At a small train station in rural Nebraska, William Jensen promises to make his family proud. In New York, spoiled Briggs Lowry embarks on a transatlantic passage. Meanwhile, in France, black expatriate boxer, Eugene Skinner, vows to repay his debt to his adopted racially tolerant country. Together, these American boys arrive at an aerodrome in France, eager to learn how to fly. What they didn't realise was that they were about to embark on a great, romantic adventure.

There are two main areas of play in Flyboys. You can either play the single player missions, or head out into the online gaming community and try your luck against people from all over the world.

There are quite a few aircraft to chose from, all of which have been designed to handle as realistically as possible. As there wasn't much to these planes in the real world, this means that you don't have to worry about flaps etc - just get the crate into the air and use your joystick to fly around.

The online play is much better than the single player off-line game. In fact there were quite a few problems with the off-line play. Firstly it doesn't really matter how you do in the missions, the story doesn't really change. And, as enjoyable as they are, missions generally start and end in the air - even when there are still enemy fighters to destroy, or if you are so damaged that you have no real control of your aircraft. It would have made much more sense to have had to make your way to a designated landing spot - it's a bit worrying when you complete a level to notice that you still have enemy craft bearing down on you... how did you escape? The missions are quite varied and the level of difficulty gradually ramps up, which is welcomed.

The only thing really letting the online play down is the number of players currently subscribed. When we tried it there were relatively few in our immediate vicinity. This may well get better over time, but at present there are too few people flying in such a large environment. While there are AI craft flying around, they don't really add as much realism as battling against real opponents.

To sum up, this is a great WWI combat simulator, that is well worth the £20 asking price. Hopefully the number of online players will increase in the near future - once they do, this will be one great game.

Nick Smithson

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