Battlehawks 1942 was a lesser known flight simulation game from the second world war, concentrating mainly on battles within the Pacific Theater. It is a combat simulation, as opposed to a jovial jaunt in the air over a lovely ocean, so the user had best be ready for some serious flak and strafing action. Battlehawks 1942 was created in the late eighties, being both programmed and released by Lucasfilm Games. The entire game is in the first person perspective from the cockpit of the selected air craft and features some passable three dimensional graphics.
The gamer/pilot can choose to fly as either an American or Japanese pilot in Battlehawks 1942. There are a total of four operations from which to choose, regardless of the faction chosen: The Battle of the Coral Sea; the famous Battle of Midway; the Battle of the Eastern Solomnus; and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. There are a total of twelve aircraft that can be piloted, each with customizable variants. There were Wildcats, Dauntlesses and Avengers for the United States, and Kates, Vals and Zeroes for the Japanese parts. There are over twenty types of naval vessels in the sea, and most are reasonably historically accurate as far as looks and military value. One of the most beautiful parts of the game is the downloadable manual, which is a virtual lesson in history. It serves to draw the user into the game, teaches him about the historical merit and influences of the war, and makes the flight simulation seem like more than just a video game.
The user experiences the same basic play from both sides of the playing field, which adds some depth and perspective to the war. The game did offer some customizing qualities that made the game somewhat unrealistic, if they were selected. The user could become invincible, have unlimited fuel or ammunitions, and could change the starting altitude and skill level of the opposition. These, however, were options, and the missions could also be flown just as they were intended. There was also no landing or taking off, which was a missed boat. The upside is that the user is thrown right into the action.
In summary, Battlehawks 1942 is not a bad combat flight simulator at all. It has some very realistic elements and allows the user to be drawn into each of the battles without a lot of set up and rigamarole. The game play and controls are not bad either, and the game was one of the first to support a joystick on the PC, making it an even better play. Give it a try. Compared to many WWII flight sims on the market, you will not be disappointed.
Written by: ~Shannon