Update: If you do decide to get this after reading this review, you can download a patch that will fix many things in this still great sim. Download it here: http://download.thirdwire.net/files/dl/WOE_Update_Oct2008b.exe
Something more is that there is some pretty awesome third party addon content for this simulation that is faithful to sim itself and the flight eras it offers. Check the great site: http://www.column5.us
in the campaign section for a series of four addons that will improve your experience of this great sim.
As a flight sim hobbyist but not a dedicated, I've had a long history with flight sims such as Chuck Yeager's Flight Trainer and Air Combat Sim, MS Flight Simulator (from the very early days). Aces Over Europe and Red Baron (both Dynamix) and Knights Of The Sky (Microprose) who included greats like Billy Bishop (a Canadian Ace from WWI) and Ike Immelman (a tactical aviation innovator whom has a manoeuvre with his namesake). Spectrum Holobyte's Falcon 3.0 which utilized the new advancement of the FPU unit of the Intel 386 to offer real military quality flight simulation (apparently Spectrum Holobyte adapted their actual military flight simulator technology for use in the game).
One of my favourite flight sims was F117 Stealth Fighter by Microprose on the basis of its customizable mission dynamics and flight strategy with stealth technology, you were guaranteed replayability. Which is what brings me to Wings Over Europe.
Wings Over Europe has all of the elements of the classic flight simulator games offered by Microprose and one of my heroes of Microprose, "Wild" Bill Cody who was like a the Tom Clancy of flight simulation in his day. It has all of these elements without overdoing it and keeping it simple enough for the newcomer to flight simulation to accomplish and advance.
Most of the missions take place during the Cold War, so you won't be flying any stealth fighters such as the YF-22 or F-35. You will however get a fun and unmatched flight experience of the cold war era and a lesson in the advance of jet and missile technology during the era. Missions are tense though sometimes you might not have an encounter during a mission in campaign mode if you are careful enough. This is what brings the realism to it. The enemy AI is great and they communicate, so once you're spotted, that's it. They're firing AAA or SAMs and scrambling their hardware to dispatch you.
I'm running Windows 7 (32-bit) and though I've found that it runs great, it tends to drop out of the game after missions but still retains your progress. I've run the same game on Windows Vista (several years ago) and played it through time and again without problem so I suspect that what I'm experiencing is a UAC problem (maybe running under admin will work).
You don't need a flight stick to fly the flight sim as the keyboard controls are good, but a flight stick would definately be a big advantage.
One of the greatest features is that the entire battlefield feels like it a living and breathing conflict and the enemy and allies are on standby all of the time. There are ground units whose eyes and ears can result in you being spotted resulting in a nearby airfield dispatching its own air CAP to deal with you.
Likewise you might fly missions where you are quickly scrambled while enemy squadrons attack your airfield.
All in all a very enjoyable experience despite the fact that it is an older title. The graphic and gameplay hold up for certain. Just try all of the different camera views and you'll see what I mean...
Highly recommended for any avid flight sim fan especially those of Microprose flight sims, and those who are new to flight simulation who want something that is scalable as they learn more about the controls and aircraft. Don't get me wrong, this has some advanced features like targeting different targeting (supporting A2A, A2G, A2R and Guns) and radar modes and ECM and a Radar Jammer (Electronic Counter Measures) as well.
This is the flight sim for fans of classic sims and those looking to get into sims.
If you want to get pumped about this and games like this, watch the movie The Right Stuff.
Brian Joseph Johns