Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe
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|Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe|
|Genre(s)||Flight simulation, action|
Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (SWOTL) is a World War II air-combat flight simulation video game released in August 1991 and expanded in 1992 by LucasFilm Games. It is a MS-DOS game for IBM PC compatibles.
It was the last of a trilogy of World War II titles by LucasFilm Games, the others being "Battlehawks 1942" (1988) and "Their Finest Hour" (1989). It enabled the player to fly aircraft of the USAAF Eighth Air Force and the German Luftwaffe, including some experimental aircraft that did not see operational service during World War II.
The game was initially released with a codewheel and a 225-page manual, detailing the air war over Western Europe between 1943 and 1945. The game also featured a campaign mode, similar to that found in "Their Finest Hour", where the player had to make the strategic decisions on which targets were to be attacked (as USAAF 8th Air Force) or defended (by the German Luftwaffe). Some gameplay elements included, such as the historic missions section, are evident in later Lawrence Holland games including X-Wing.
SWOTL is focused entirely on the 8th USAAF vs Luftwaffe challenge during World War II, especially the American Strategic Bombing offensive against Germany, from August 1943 towards the end of war in 1945. It is focused more on action than on realistic simulation. SWOTL airplanes can be efficiently flown with a mouse, keyboard or joystick. The game sets up German secret weapons, with fast jet propulsion and a variety of missiles and bombs, against slower but more numerous American piston-engined airplanes.
There are a number of ways into the game, covering full Tours of Duty, historical missions, campaign battles as well as a custom mission builder.
Tours of Duty
In Tours of Duty, the Player creates his own Pilot (or Crew, for B-17 Flying Fortress) and fights in the air war for a limited number of missions (from 25 to 55, according to the historical Squadrons). The Pilot/Crew gains experience points, ranks and decorations; and if he manages to survive his assigned Tours of Duty, he can even start another, without time limitations. The same Pilot/Crew can be deployed by the Player in Campaign Battles, or in Historical Missions or Custom Missions.
SWOTL features a numerous set of Historical Missions to play. These are pre-built missions designed by the game programmers, and re-create historical air battles, according to historical data. These Historical Missions are not linked each other, but they are stand alone. The Missions are always chosen by Airplane type. The Player is free to use his own Pilot/Crew in the Historical Mission to get experience points. However, in case of K.I.A. or M.I.A., the Player loses the Pilot/Crew assigned to the Historical Mission, as if he was in normal Tour of Duty or Campaign Battles.
Like many other Air Combat Simulations, SWOTL features a Mission Builder. Although not a complex one, the Mission Builder is flexible and allows the user to create exciting on the map missions. The "Waves" function allows the player to automatically replicate, up to 9 times, any planned non-bombing Flight; so that it is possible to simulate, for example, several waves of enemy interceptors against a Bomber formation, planning a single Flight of interceptors and setting the "Waves" option as desired.
Campaign Battles are the heart of SWOTL, allowing the Player to plan missions inside the Campaign Battles, using the Mission builder. This feature allows the player plan their own way to fight the air war, without any limitations. Whatever the player's tactics, the success or defeat are determined by several overall Winning/Losing conditions. In particular, there are 8 factors which make up the German war economy in SWOTL:
- GERMAN FIGHTER PILOTS
- DEPLOYED GERMAN GRUPPEN (LUFTWAFFE GROUPS)
- AVIATION FUEL
- JET FUEL
- GASOLINE IN STOCK
- MUNITIONS IN STOCK
- BALL BEARINGS IN STOCK
- TRANSPORTATION CONDITION
Of these 8 factors, only the first 4 have direct impact on the Luftwaffe. The last 4 factors are general war industries, and so they affect only the German ground forces. American Campaign Battles will have as a goal the destruction of the war industries (Strategic Bombing), the Luftwaffe (D-Day Air Superiority), or both (Final Victory). German Campaign Battles concern the defense of the same elements.
Computer Gaming World in 1991 gave the game four and a half stars out of five, stating that it "is a welcome addition to Lucasfilm's World War II aerial oeuvre. Graphically rich, stylistically complex and user-accessible, it succeeds on three levels (tactical, operational and strategic)". In 1992 the magazine named it one of the year's best simulation games.
- "20th Anniversary. Part Two: The Classics, 1990 - 1994". LucasArts Entertainment Company. Archived from the original on 2006-06-23.
- Brooks, M. Evan (November 1991). "Unveiling the Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe". Computer Gaming World. p. 120. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Brooks, M. Evan (December 1991). "Computer Strategy and Wargames: The 1900-1950 Epoch / Part II (M-Z) of an Annotated Paiktography". Computer Gaming World. p. 126. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- "CGW Salutes The Games of the Year". Computer Gaming World. 1992-11. p. 110. Retrieved 4 July 2014.