ECTS: B-17 Flying Fortress

The ambitious WWII bomber sim may be Hasbro's last hard-core simulation. Find out what will make it a great finale to MicroProse's long line of sims.

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The nearly complete build of B-17 that Hasbro displayed at ECTS looked very impressive. The scope of the game is highly ambitious, and the graphics and overall attention to detail backs up the game's concept well. In B-17's bomber commander mode, you can take control of one of ten stations inside the bomber, the American B-17G that was introduced in late 1943 with several technical improvements that helped turn the tide and greatly increase the success ratio of allied bombing missions over the continent.

All of the B-17 stations are modeled in high detail, from the pilot and co-pilot instrument panels and navigator's table to the bombardier's sights and the many gunner stations. You'll need to take care of your plane and crewmen, and develop their skills over the course of the campaign. To help keep the situation under control in the middle of a mission, your men can move around the interior of the plane, and leave their stations when necessary to help repair malfunctioning systems or aid wounded fellow crewmen. At all levels of the game, great attention has been paid to the artificial intelligence - for example, a crewman at large in the plane will automatically help out as needed and perform station duties to the best of his abilities, based on his stats.

If B-17 stopped there, it could be a very good bomber sim - but its scope extends far beyond the one single plane when you play the squadron commander mode. In this campaign, the fate of an entire squadron is left in your hands, from managing supplies and repairs between missions to planning and executing attacks with up to sixteen B-17s. In this mode, you can jump between the bombers in your squadron while the computer manages every station you can't personally take care of. Additionally, B-17 lets you fly either the allied escort fighters or the attacking German interceptors. With so much to manage, and very skilled German pilots dogging you on every run, the campaign will certainly teach you how to cut your losses.

One particular detail we learned at the show is that Hasbro decided about a month ago to drop multiplayer support in order to ensure that the game made it out this year. The game's release has also slipped slightly, as Hasbro is now saying it will release B-17 in November.

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