Resuscitating old flight sims

Ok, I swaped out my motherboard a few weeks ago and am just now getting around to installing all my old flight sims. No small task since my library of sims is huge and most of these games have a dedicated following of modders. Here they are in no particular order:

Screamin Demons Over Europe. When this game first came out, I enjoyed it for the dogfighting. They do this thing where the view zooms in as you get in tight, and zooms out as you extend. Very nice for dogfighting. However, because of the relitively small maps and glut of WW2 sims when this was released, I never stuck with it very long. There seems to be a host of add ons for this. I installed the minimum for on-line play and went in to check it out. They’ve done some nice work on the cockpits and there are an enormous amount of flyable planes. The physics are a little unusual, though. A glancing blow to the ground caused my plane’s prop to bend up and, apparently, siezed the motor. I bounced so high into the air I had enough time to extend the (undamaged) landing gear and bring it in for a perfect 3 point landing. I seem to remember wheels popping off and spinning like quarters when it was released, but nothing this bad. Was the physics modeling always this loopy?

ooops. Kids are up. Have to finish this list in a future post.

When I hear old flight sims I always think Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe. I wish I could find the disks, just for the nostalgia. Which other game lets you fly so many planes, including a B-17? Intercept a V1? And record these cool replay movies? And play dynamic campaigns with a strategy part? If you ask me, the genre went downhill after SWOTL. Everything is so ultra-realistic nowadays. I don’t want to study aerodynamics and buy a hyper-modern 10-axis joystick just to shoot down some yankees.

It’s not the realism that hurt sims. There’s nothing wrong with a plane flying just like the real thing (I managed to fly a freakin’ real F-15, for gosh sakes… It’s not hard…), or with enemies using real, convincing tactics.

What hurt sims was the concentration on modeling systems instead of concentrating on the stories, situations, wingmen, and so on. When the IL-2 guys get anal about following the proper starting procedure on a Bf-109, that’s just sad. That’s not what the game is supposed to be about. The Falcon superpatches are amazing, but they’re also very offputting if you don’t think systems management is the exciting part of being an F-16 pilot.

You could easily create a sim with gameplay of SWOTL without sacrificing realism. I keep hoping Larry Holland’s new team understands that. IMHO what this market needs right now is SWOTL-style gameplay with (at least optionally) AI and physics that are good enough to make the less psychotic of the hardcore group happy.

Three of my all time favorites flights sims are in this order:

Dragon Strike - SSI
Strike Commander - Origin
Crimson Skies - MS

These games had nothing to do with true-to-life physics modeling. Instead, it kept me wanting to play it more just to see what will happen next.

I believe there’s a difference in PLAYING a flight-sim and FLYING a flight-sim.

The above three titles, I love to play. IL2 on the other hand, I love to fly. In fact so much, that I play it online alot. Yet I have yet to gain ANY interest in the campaign missions. I find them dull and boring. Even in IL2:FB supposedly dynamic campaign. There’s nothing to draw me in or even make me care about the outcome of each mission.

So there you have it…plase make Dragon Strike II.

Did LucasArts just recently announce a Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe II? I thought I saw a reference to it on the cover of the new Computer Games magazine (a sub to which, btw, is available for $3.95 via www.bestdealmagazines.coim).


Yeah, they announced it at E3 2002 actually. I’m sure they’ll show it in LA next month. Larry Holland & crew heading back to their roots. Exciting stuff!

Wow, and I was just thinking about how nice it would be to see another SWOTL, and wondered what happened to Totally Games!