You might be tempted to point at Eurofighter Typhoon among the new releases and say, "Hey, look, flight sims aren't dead after all!" But you'd be wrong, because it isn't much of a flight sim. It is, instead, an airplane action game from Rage, the creator of Incoming and Hostile Waters; and Digital Image Design, the creator of EF2000, F-22 Air Defense Fighter, and the Total Air War campaign add-on. Although DID's sims have gotten increasingly complex and sophisticated, Eurofighter Typhoon reverses that trend. It has much more in common with Rage's shooters. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, considering Rage's shooters have kept improving. But Eurofighter's wings are sadly clipped by its cloying campaign.
Eurofighter Typhoon forsakes realism for action.
Eurofighter has only tenuous claims to realism. The actual Typhoon is a collaborative effort whose design and production are shared among Germany, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom. It hasn't seen combat yet, but there are several operational models, and it's doing the rounds at air shows, so this game isn't so much outright fiction as it is early speculation. The German consortium that manages the actual plane's development has endorsed Eurofighter Typhoon, but that isn't saying much--considering that Lockheed Martin endorsed Novalogic's completely unrealistic F-16 Multirole Fighter. Eurofighter isn't quite as simple as F-16, but there's still a lot of silliness going on, and it will turn off hard-core flight-sim fans. This silliness includes broadly modeled sci-fi weapon systems, a simplified damage routine that uses hard-coded hit points, an overpowered flight model that will leap off the runway like Tinkerbell and glide forever if you shut down your engines, enemy aircraft that blatantly violate their real-world capabilities, and even the ludicrous equivalent of a boss battle that's waiting for you at the end of the campaign.
The campaign's story involves Russia's attempt to seize Iceland for control of the GIUK gap (the Atlantic passage stretching between Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom), which traditional Cold War thoroughfare gamers know and love from 360's Harpoon, Microprose's Fleet Defender, and early Tom Clancy novels. Because the game is driven by a campaign in which success depends on managing six pilots in real time, there's a Hollywood sense of a handful of men and women out to save the world from Russia. When you move the mouse to the bottom of the screen, a display slides up, showing each pilot's status. Click on a pilot, and you'll instantly jump to him or her. Every pilot is always doing something, rendered in full 3D, whether it's hanging out in the rec room, waiting to be rescued after ejecting, sitting in a pre-mission briefing, or flying a combat air patrol. You can even jump to a view of a corpse drifting in the ocean when a pilot is lost at sea.
You'll see your pilots both inside and outside the cockpit.
When they're on missions, these pilots aren't really capable of anything beyond flying from point A to point B, so you have to jump into the plane and take over if you want a mission successfully completed. This creates a few problems. First, when you jump from one plane to another, pilots will blithely plow into the side of a mountain or fly out to sea until they run out of fuel if you don't switch on the autopilot before you leave. Second, when you jump into a plane in the middle of battle, there's no easy way to find out what's going on. Suddenly, you've got a missile up your tailpipe and you have no idea how it got there. Finally, there are situations when two computer-controlled pilots need your help simultaneously. Missions will fail and planes will be shot down because you can be in only one place at a time. This desultory jumping around from plane to plane gives Eurofighter a scattered feel in which you're fighting timing rather than flying missions.
Then there's all the downtime as you wait for the computer to generate the next mission. You have no control over the campaign, which is doled out in real time as the computer sees fit. It's almost a joke that you can run the game at double time; if you're going to force players to wait 20 minutes, it's some small consolation that they can trim the time down to 10 minutes. Downtime is downtime. If you're going to allow accelerated time, why not allow players to quickly jump ahead to the next mission? You'll easily spend a third of your time in Eurofighter Typhoon sitting on the sidelines and waiting. It's the flight-sim equivalent of spawn camping in EverQuest.
Although there are some dynamic elements, the campaign is worth playing through only once. It's driven mainly by a sequence of scripted events that slavishly repeat each time you replay the game. Russian forces invade Iceland, gaining ground when you fail a mission. Successful missions beat them back one territory at a time. Unfortunately, as a single-player game, Eurofighter is entirely closed off behind its campaign. There are no single missions, skirmish modes, quick-action options, and scenario editor. There are some interesting multiplayer modes beyond simple deathmatch, but without a matching service or a stronger online presence, you won't have an easy time finding other players. Also, it won't work on a LAN unless each player owns a copy of the game.
In battle, you have to jump between six different pilots.