Rise of Flight: The First Great Air War – PC Game Review
Rise of Flight: the First Great Air War. PC Game. Publisher, 777 Studios. Developer, NEOQB. $39.99.
Passed inspection: Flight/damage modeling. Beautifully rendered countryside and aircraft.
Failed Basic: Limited number of flyable aircraft included with basic game. Dry career mode limits immersion into game world.
Spins, stalls, loops, takeoffs and landings are all accurately modeled.
One of my favorite guilty pleasures is the 2006 film Flyboys. The screen was full of CGI aircraft twisting, turning, shooting and exploding in flames. Now, Rise of Flight: the First Great Air War (RoF) allows us armchair pilots fly realistically modeled aircraft over 125,000 square miles of the most photorealistic countryside ever created on the PC. However, this beauty comes at the cost of steep hardware requirements and a career mode that lacks the "suspension of disbelief" that makes a good, immersive, gaming experience.
In the 1980s and early ’90s Origin Systems’s Wings of Glory and Dynamix’s Red Baron were critical and commercial successes. Red Baron was voted 1991′s simulation of the year by Computer Gaming World magazine and, in 1998, was voted the #4 best PC game of all time. These games included RPG elements that drew players into the world; their missions mattered in the overall war.
With the demise of Origin and Dynamix, WW1 flight sims languished, outside of fan-developed modifications of older games. Then, in June 2009, a Russian game development house named Neoqb arrived on the scene and released Rise of Flight: the First Great Air War.
In RoF, gamers can grab their silk scarves, goggles, and leather helmets and climb aboard one of four planes-the Spad 13.C1, Fokker D. VII, Albatross D. Va, and the Nieuport 28.C1-and witness, almost firsthand, the dawn of the fighter pilot in 1917-18. Unfortunately, these four are the only aircraft initially available to players. As with other developers, Neoqb offers 14 additional aircraft as downloadable content (DLC) for around six Euros each at riseofflight.com.
Neoqb caught quite a bit of flak (so to speak) upon release by the paucity of flyable machines (only two were included on release, since increased to the four) and a copy protection schema that required the user to maintain an Internet connection while starting the game. But Neoqb listened to their customer’s complaints and requests for upgrades and have released eleven updates as of February 2010. A few of the updates include: a quick mission creator, video record/playback, new single and multi-seat aircraft, co-op game mode, winter season and improved sky colors. Neoqb also changed the odious Internet connection DRM protocols with update 1.011.
What sets RoF apart from most other flight games (with the possible exception of IL-2) is its scale of user customization. PC pilots are given 14 different realism options. We’re not talking about whether to give yourself unlimited fuel or easy landing modes; you can also choose to pre-warm your engine, control your radiator airflow, set your gun convergence, chose fuel and weapons load-out and many more options.
RoF’s flight model simulates the unique handling characteristics of each aircraft. Spins, stalls, loops, takeoffs and landings are all accurately modeled, as is a physics model that simulates lift, g-force, inertia and torque. The era’s gasoline engines are also modeled-a high speed dive with your radiator vents open can cause your engine to freeze, if, of course, your wings aren’t ripped off by the stress first. Fuel quality, previous damage, airframe fatigue, wind turbulence, air pressure and temperature are also calculated and play a part in your machine’s performance.
RoF’s damage model divides each plane into sub-objects and each sub-object into its individual components, which can be damaged by a bullet or shell-the trajectory of which has also been calculated.
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