Recent air combat sim recommendations?


I’m hungering for playing a good flight combat sim again after watching way too many episodes of Dogfights on the History Channel. Either jets or props will work, I’m not picky. And although multiplayer would be nice, it’s not a necessity. The last one I played heavily was IL2 Sturmovik which I consider a great game, just showing a little age.

I know there are some other simmers here, any recommendations based on releases in the last three or four years?

Best WWII Wargame for PC?

The only recent releases are Third Wire titles - Listing.

Maddox Games will release their Battle of Britain sometime next year. That is your best option.


Some of those sounded decent, then I noted the “does not run on Windows Vista.” Yeowch. :(

Is that a hard problem or are there workarounds for the compatibility options?


Best one is probably still IL2. Get the 1946 edition that has everything. If you could stand to go back several years, I could recommend more.


I’ll take a look at the latest for IL2 then. I also note that I never played the Battle over Britain series and 2 doesn’t look too bad. I don’t think I ever tried IL2 on my Vista machine, I hope it loads and runs okay.


The latest iteration of The Battle of Britain (basically a heavily modified version of the original Empire version) was pretty dang good. If you could stand to go back even further, go for European Air War, Jane’s WII Fighters or Microsoft Combat Flight Sim 3.


There really is nothing recent for combat flight sims unfortunately. I blame Schamers.

IL2 is pretty much it for WW2 stuff unless you’re willing to pony up for Aces High 2 or WW2OL. On the modern side of things you have LOMAC which is pretty but lacks a dynamic campaign. There are a couple of expansion packs available for it. Falcon 4 (which is 10 years old!) is graphically a bit homely but is still unrivaled when it comes to its dynamic campaign. There are two flavors of Falcon 4: Falcon 4 Allied Force which is the most user friendly and stable, and Open Falcon and Red Viper both of which are two separate and unrelated mods to the original Falcon 4 that offer improved graphics and functionality (realism stuff that F4 didn’t originally have) but are less stable than Falcon 4 Allied Force.

On the helo side of things there is still a very active modding community for Enemy Engaged (AH and CH) over at There’s also Black Shark on the horizon which models the Ka-50 and is made by the same people who made LOMAC.


All good stuff. Did you just wanna play WWII stuff, Skipper, or did you want the full gamut?


No preference Brian, I had just hoped that I missed something nice that came out. It looks like not very much has. At least they are still actively patching some of the older games.

If there were a huge selection I would probably stick with just WWII stuff, but sometimes you find a great gem of a game where you weren’t looking.

Thanks for all the responses so far guys. This gives me a short list to look at.


BOB2:WOV easily has the best AI and scope (hundreds of planes in the air). The graphics up high are OK (nice clouds!), down low are pretty rough (very few 3d buildings and objects, tiled textures), but the immersion of the superb AI, great sound effects and dynamic campaign more than make up for them.

Also, whereas the strategy component was previously pretty daunting, the latest patches include a single player RAF pilot campaign that doesn’t ask you to plan the war, you just fly the missions. Good stuff.

I also played IL2 to death years back and have considered picking up 1946 for the new maps, but I’m not much of a multiplayer guy, and the predictable AI puts me off.

If you like helicopters, Armed Assault is a blast for jumping in a chopper and facing off against all kinds of enemy tanks, infantry, etc. Makes good use of my x-45 and trackIR.

But yeah. The two I’ve been waiting for, Rise of Flight (formerly Knights of the Sky) and Maddox’s SOW:BOB are supposed to come out sometime hopefully before I die.


My recs:

IL-2: 1946 - the campaigns are nothing to write home about, as is the A.I. Graphically, the sim holds up surprisingly well. The action, I am told, is all on-line. A weird case of a study sim turning into a survey sim. Pretty much mandatory for WW2 sims.

Battle of Britain 2 - What Rowan should have released in 1999, except for that they were going out of business and stuff. Best A.I. in the business and a campaign mode that doubles as a strategy game in itself. Another sim where the graphics hold up OK.

Falcon: Allied Force - Yeah, '98-'99 was the last gasp of sims. Getting long in the tooth graphically, but everything under the hood is fairly incredible. Best dynamic campaign in the business.

These three will keep you going for a very long time.

I’d also play:

Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe - not a sim, but is what I feel is the best action fly-around-and-shoot-stuff around. Big, lots of planes, AAA production values.


LOMAC - really only comes into its own with the expansion, which puts Starforce on your system…to me this is an instant NO SALE. Otherwise everything else is done right except the stupid campaigns.

Enemy Engaged 2 - remember, kids, if you are going to bring a sim back from the dead, try to make it better than the mods floating around out there for the first game.

Anything from Third Wire - Have vista? Too bad. Otherwise, graphically sparse, boring campaigned dreck. 5,000 polys for the plane, 200 for the landscape. Bad AI. Bad everything.

My advice:

Avoid sims altogether, otherwise you’re going to spend 100+ on a decent HOTAS and 100+ for TrackIR, for like two games.


spiffy I noticed that several of the newer ones actually use the trackIR. Worth it or overhyped?

EDIT: scharmers actually sums that up a bit. Looks like it’s expensive considering low support.


I think scharmers is spot on except for the Thirdwire stuff. Specifically, Wings Over Vietnam with the Yankee Air Pirates addon is quite possibly the best sim experience I have ever had.

edit: Playing sims without TrackIR is inconceivable to me. It’s the best hardware addon to ever hit the genre. I would play with a mouse and keyboard before I would give up my TrackIR.


It’s even less of a sim than SWOTL was, but I found Heroes of the Pacific to be a pretty fun Wing Commander-alike dressed in WW2 duds. That might be enough to satisfy any post-Dogfights cravings.


Rowans Battle of Britain

It was updated and re released in 2005 by Shockwave Productions (now Air to Air Simulations). Its release was marred by lingering issues with the Rowan code and while it included beautiful new planes there was a great deal of old art left over from the first release so It all looked a little incongruent. Its gone through repeated patching over the last three years from a group of volunteers and so at this point its very stable and looks quite sharp.

Its a great dogfight sim. Simply being able to throw up several hundred planes at once makes the combat exciting but its paired to a very credible AI system that produces reasonably human opponents. Pilots will make mistakes stalling out or slipping into unrecoverable dives. They overshoot targets or flee at the sign of a threat. They don’t conga line a single enemy. The Hurricanes will target the bombers, the Spitfires will go for the fighters, and the 109s will slip down from above to fight off both. It takes little time for the sky to fill with twisting contrails and burning aircraft.

You can now play the campaign as a single pilot instead of commanding the whole affair. Either way you’ll watch the Luftwaffe launch from France on a 2D map and the RAF launch interceptors in response. If you choose to run campaign you’ll have the option of moving squadrons on the map and choosing to launch patrols, muster responses if your the RAF or as the Luftwaffe choose targets and compose strike forces. Unfortunately for those playing on the German side there remain bugs with the waypoint system. The escorts don’t’ always sync up with the bombers and so you’ll have your fight cover arrive and depart from the target before the bombers arrive.

The old airfield art has been replaced so the ground on either side of the channel looks much better. The ground textures have been updated. The clouds still look beautiful. The tracers are sharp and each squadron or staffel has a unique texture drawn from an actual photo of that unit and each aircraft is properly numbered. Downsides? The cities are drawn on the map and are not represented by geometry. Rowan built up London using simple rectangles representing city blocks. Shockwave removed those in their release and they’ve yet to replace them with something else. The gauges in many of the aircraft are inaccurate or don’t function. Much of France is also blank and unpopulated just spare green grass. Still, for the most part its an attractive game.

I really love BoB. Its simply fantastic to see a sky full of aircraft. The only real competition in that regard is Falcon 4.0. Its also a cheep buy either in a bargain bin for five dollars or directly from Shockwave for twenty dollars.


Hey, why are the reviews for BOB2:WOV all over the map? I never owned a joystick so I’m just getting into old flight sims. In my backlog I have Falcon 4, Enemy Engaged, and IL2 1946. Is BOB2 worth adding for someone like me?


The release version of WoV crashed frequently for many users. It was also an unreasonable pig slowing to a crawl on decent systems. Both of those issues were largely resolved in the first two patches but it also suffered from lingering issues from the Rowan release.


Are the Rowan and WOV editions somehow related?


Is BOB2:WOV available digitally anywhere? That would sure beat ordering the game.

Also, I wish a dev would create a modern WWI combat sim with realistic graphics. That is just such an awesome time at the birth of aircraft combat and I’d like to revisit it. I got into Flying Corps big back in the day.


Rowan opened up the sourcecode after release and a group called the BDG formed to work on it. Shockwave approached them a few years later and they agreed to share the mod work as a base for a new retail version of BoB called Wings of Victory. Since then Shockwave has been renamed and has gone on to other projects but both parties continues to share code. Shockwave is developing the Rowan engine for licensing and future projects while the BDG continues to repair it and make improvements.