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Posted on Mar 24, 2015 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Wings Over Flanders Fields – PC Game Review

Wings Over Flanders Fields – PC Game Review

By Rick Martin

3a-coverWings Over Flanders Fields. PC Game Review. Publisher: OBD Software Price $29.99 (download only), $42.99 (DVD and download)

Passed Inspection: Completely immersive, fantastic graphics, tons of airplanes, choice of difficulty level

Failed Basic: Very difficult at highest realism, frustrating claims system at highest realism, need to create a pilot even for fast scenarios, no multiplayer

I closed on the Pfalz, the two .303 machine guns of my Se5a blasting away. That German pilot was good; his banking and weaving had kept me from getting a good hit on his plane. He tried to jump me after I had smoked two observation balloons, but my Se5 could hold its own and soon he found himself the prey. I had chased him too far behind the lines, and he lined up to land his damaged craft at an airfield. Just as I moved into position to hit him again, three of his buddies jumped me and this time it was my turn to have bullets tear into my plane. I banked left and firewalled the throttle, soon leaving the Germans far behind. It was that German pilot’s lucky day—and mine, too. Today, we would both make it home alive.

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So went one mission in my Australian pilot’s Wings Over Flanders Field campaign.

It’s been nearly five years since I reviewed the original Over Flanders Fields and, with this new release of the simulator, it’s time to revisit the front and engage in some good old-fashioned air-to-air combat during the Great War.

Simply put, Wings Over Flanders Fields is the upgraded edition of what is arguably the best World War I flight simulator on the market. You still must own a copy of Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 3 (MCFS3) to use as the core of the game. Usually you don’t even need to install it, just pop in the CD/DVD when WOFF installer asks (unless you have an old CFS3 disk). Once that program is installed, Wings Over Flanders Fields (WOFF) then installs and completely changes MCFS3 into a whole new, graphically state of the art simulator.

Improvements in the update include more advanced and realistic AI, a greater choice of flyable aircrafts, dynamic campaigns and more photorealistic graphics.

With the core game, you get 55 airplanes—French, German, British and American. Each airplane has many different color and camouflage variations making for hundreds of different looks. Each plane is fully modeled and can be viewed from different external directions plus different views from the cockpit. Additionally, each has authentic cockpit layouts and control systems. An expansion has just been released adding even more airplanes, including more early war planes such as different versions of the Fokker Eindecker, Be2Cs, a fully controllable Gotha with all crew positions modeled—even Zeppelins to try to shoot down.

The core of WOFF is the creation and management of pilots Arguably, this is one of the greatest strengths and one of the greatest weaknesses of the system. Pilots must be created in order to fly. Even if you want to just take a plane for a quick and dirty air battle, you must pick a pilot to fly the plane. This can be a little exasperating in the short term but, by building the simulator around the pilot (he can be a citizen of the UK and its dominions, French, American or German) it completely immerses you in the game. If you want, you can create a generic pilot and then set it up so that the pilot never dies. That way you can use the generic pilot for quick fights. For each pilot the player gives the character a name, birthdate and town of origin. Additionally, you can pick the category of plane the pilot flies (bombers or scouts) and then choose the type of plane he starts with. The plane must be available for the year—no flying Fokker DVIIs in 1916! The game covers 1915 to 1918.

Game play options include campaigns, quick scenarios and quick combats. Quick combats give you the option of picking the planes, location and other parameter of the combat. Training missions are provided for new pilots to get their “air legs”. Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer option but the amazing AI more than makes up for it. You really feel like you are flying against living, breathing enemy pilots.

The true joy of the game is taking your pilot though a campaign and watching as he either dies or survives, winning medals and accolades. Be warned though, I have found that the chance of being killed in combat is about equal to what it was for a real World War I pilot—roughly 75%! Remember, you have no parachutes and even making a crash landing can be difficult, as my Albatros pilot found out when he was jumped by three Nieuports. He brought his plane down as it was shot full of holes. The landing was perfect as it could be, and he landed near a German observation balloon team, but he died from his wounds before he could be taken to a medical station.

Not only does the game offer excellent combat against smart AI opponents but even the weather can be deadly. Thunderstorms, high winds, and snow can make your flight very challenging.

Missions include attacks on airfields and ground targets, balloon busting, protecting two-seaters, etc. Each flight is different and exhilarating even if you never sight an enemy plane. One mission in the campaign of my Australian Se5a pilot was a transfer flight from one airfield to a new one closer to the front. Our flight of eight planes never spotted an enemy and the transfer flight was routine, but the weather was gorgeous and, ‘way off in the distance, we could see the front and a huge artillery barrage making life miserable for the foot soldiers.

Full motion video of news footage of the battles helps set the mood for the game, as does a wonderful and evocative music score by Matt Milne. Additionally, in the campaign game, newspaper stories help fill the player in on the progress of the war.

The player has full control of the graphics. I pushed them to the max level of detail on my 8-core system with a Sapphire Graphics card. The minimum system requirements as listed on the webpage are:

“Intel 2.6GHz or more CPU (overclocked may help if you are struggling for core speed). NVidia Graphics card, 560 GTX or above, 640 GTX or above, or equivalent. Also the GPU / Video card should have at least 1GB Video RAM (or equivalent ATI graphics card). PC with WINDOWS 7 64 Bit, WINDOWS 8 or 8.1 64 Bit 4GB RAM or higher”

The more advanced your system, the higher the detail you’ll want to set the in-game graphics sliders to.

Additionally, the style of game play can be adjusted to set the level of realism you want. A novice player may want to start by setting the difficulty to “pilot never dies,” “no collisions,” “unlimited ammo,” etc. I prefer flying with almost full realism but I have accepted several options to make my gaming life easier, including the option to have a small circular HUD display to add to my situational awareness and an arrow to point me to my selected target. Of course, these can be turned off but I have found that to be a little too difficult even when I’m using the toggle on my joystick to turn my virtual head to scan the sky around the plane. For those wanting a more high-tech approach, various eye tracking software can be used with WOFF.

I’ve also used the option to make claims for killed aircrafts a little easier. At the intermediate and advanced levels of play, for every plane you shoot down you have to fill in a claims report after landing. The report lists the type of plane shot down and which of your wingmen may have witnessed the shoot-down. If there is no confirmation from either your squadron mates or soldiers on the ground, you may not get credit for the kill. I have set my game to use the medium level of difficulty because I have had too many unconfirmed kills on the advanced setting. This may be realistic but it is frustrating. A nice guide for achieving positive claims on the advanced setting has been posted at: http://simhq.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/3884512/Quick_claim_report/description#Post3884512

The expansions are all easy to install; they differ in price. The first, “The Fokker Scourge,” is fascinating, as it adds very early planes to the mix, including Fokker E I and E II monoplanes.

It’s a real challenge to develop the skills to fly an E I and real blast (pun intended) when you fire on British and French pilots who are not used to an aircraft with a forward-mounted machine gun firing through the propeller.

The second expansion is WOFF 2.0, which adds:

Gotha IV complete with all fully rendered gunner stations
Aviatik BI
Aviatik BII
Fokker EIV (Twin Machine gun version)
Halberstadt DIII (Argus Engine)
Zeppelin R Type (AI flyable currently)
Zeppelin P Type (AI flyable currently)
BE2C HD (Home Defense Type)
BE12 HD (Home Defense Type)

This expansion also gives players the ability to either attack Britain or defend it during day and night Gotha and Zeppelin raids, and it also seems to give the graphics detail a nice boost. Flying the Gotha is a lot of fun and is an experience that I don’t remember being offered in any other World War I flight simulator.

All in all, I can’t say enough about Wings Over Flanders Fields. For fans of World War I aviation, this new version of the simulator is a must-have as it is one of the best flight simulators on the market! By the way, for a nice Easter egg, watch the credits to the game.

Armchair General Rating: Base Game 95 % (97% with expansions installed)

About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

18 Comments

  1. Arguably the best ww1 simulator? are you serious, you must be arguing with yourself. I was sucked into this type of talk 5 years ago, and paid good money for a frankly rubbish simulator based on what was even then very old MSCS. It lasted no more than 48 hrs on my hard drive before I wrote the cash off as a bad buy.

    Rise of Flight ROF is the only simulator worth having. Buy both if you want, but buy ROF first. Not like me, I did it the other way and lived to regret it

    I feel sorry for the developer flogging a dead horse tied to an even deader base code in MSCS, move on my good man, move on.

    ps. if you really think its better send me a free copy and I might change my mind, but no way am I risking the same costly mistake twice!

    • @youwhat, I was one of the early buyers of the DVD from OBD, this was OFF3. Think I had the same feeling like you have, little bit disappointed.
      So after the pre-paid RoF did arrived and all the bugs were finally gone, I did deleted OFF3, at that time RoF with the PW-CG mod, was much better.
      All the time I did play RoF/PW-CG and had much of fun.

      After reading about the new WoFF, I was curios, as a WW1 combat flysim fan, but still I was comparing this to OFF3/RoF. When the V2 expansion pack was released it was Winding Man that did turn me over and I did buy the base pack and the V2 pack in one deal. This was for me a gamble and Yeah I was skeptical.

      Now I play WoFF more then RoF, why, I do like the AI and the campaign mode. All things are now much better, you can not compare this to OFF3.
      OK RoF plane are superb when it comes to the eyecandy, but it is not only the eye, but also the feeling, when flying a campaign. RoF is rather sterile, when WoFF builds up a tension before you are flying.

      Believe me I’m very critical but I can advice WoFF+V2. In my case I’m going to buy the extra skin and early war FokkerS-pack. If I did dislike WoFF I would never do that.

      Only problem if owing the most used Microsoft-FF2 stick, like I have, the Force feedback is absent or low on power. Think that needs attention for the devs.

      About the best Combat fly sim, I think both [WoFF&RoF] are a must have, both are the best and have there strong/weak points.

      • Im also a bit unsure myself,i hate ROF and its micro transactions and $29.99 for a cfs3 mod seems a lot but it does look like you get ure money worth,the $45 woff 2 expansion is massively overpriced though,how can they charge $29.99 for a main game and $45 for an expansion is beyond me but i did play OFF3 and enjoyed it.

    • @youwhat,
      I was exactly like you. I played RoF with PWCG and never even considered OFF/WOFF because of the whole MSCS requirement and what looked like pretty feeble graphics.
      However I took the plunge last year, when I started to tire of RoF for various reasons, and I have never regretted it.
      They are two different beasts and meet different requirements.
      For me as an off-line player the WOFF AI and campaign system are the best in class, and I include all the IL2 iterations, add-ons and mods in that. Both are simply exceptional and provide the product with a SP longevity that other flight sims cannot enjoy.
      Moreover my reservations about the graphics were largely unfounded, especially since the recent v2.00 expansion. No, it’s still not RoF or IL2 CoD or IL2 BoS, but they’re better than good.
      So, in my view, if you are a fan of WW1 combat flight sims and you play alone off-line, WOFF is the place to be.
      R

    • It has come a long way since 5 years. Everyone has an opinion but most disagree with yours as per all the reviewers and many user comments, but thanks for posting.

    • Well mate,i can exactly say the contrary,since OFF and now WOFF,are (imho) a much better overall product ;-)
      And I have flown mostly ALL Flight sims available,from ages.

  2. Im also a bit unsure myself,i hate ROF and its micro transactions and $29.99 for a cfs3 mod seems a lot but it does look like you get ure money worth,the $45 woff 2 expansion is massively overpriced though,how can they charge $29.99 for a main game and $45 for an expansion is beyond me but i did play OFF3 and enjoyed it.

    • @ Nathan
      It is all the same when it become to the investment, the RoF basic game is free and waiting for a regular RoF sale you can get a plane like the Dr1 for $2,39 Right now there is a RoF sale going on BTW.

      If you did like OFF3, YOU HAVE TO GO FOR WoFF. Get the cheaper basic download to try for only $30,-.

      @ Rick, just curious, I would like to know if you ever did play RoF and I’m not meaning the demo/try version???

      • Dutch, a friend flew both RoF and OFF so I checked out RoF on his system. I concurred with his viewpoint that RoF was a pretty decent simulation but it A) offered far fewer planes B) had no campaign mode C) was not as much “fun” as OFF. WOFF really takes the idea of living the life of a WW1 pilot to a whole new level and totally rewrites the MCFS engine in a brilliant new way. I guess it depends on what you want to get out of the WW1 simulation – for me, I want to get invested in the pilots and not just the planes.

    • WOFF was reduced by $20 recently to allow people to get into it that is why it is “cheaper” than WOFF v2 (which is an expansion but adds a whole lot of cool stuff).
      29.99 for around 55+ flyable aircraft INCLUDED, and nearly 2000 skins, and much more is well worth it. WOFF Expansion takes it to a new level – penty of other reviews, and many user comments on our website back this up, and on the forums that totally contradict “youwhat” and backup the reviewer here.

  3. YOUWHAT, you have the right to your own views just as I do and, by the way, you have a right to be wrong and you’ve chosen to exercise that right, in my opinion of course.

  4. Thanks for the awesome review Richard, and for the shoutout, it’s always appreciated.

  5. Excellent review! One minor note, when you listed system specs of “…8-core system with a Sapphire Graphics card” it could have been a bit more detailed. While I have no doubts my i7-4790K and GTX980 are up to the task, there are quite a few 8 core chips out there, (or 4 core, 8 thread Intel HT procs) and Sapphire makes a wide range of cards.

  6. Just to give a further illustration of the nature of this simulator and the “fully formed world” it creates, today I started an Albatros D II pilot and he and the other members of the squadron took off in heavily overcast weather to try and find a troublesome French balloon and knock it out. I got separated from the other planes in the flight and decided to try and find a target to give me my first kill. I flew near a French airfield and found five Nieuports in a landing cycle. Using the overcast conditions, I flew behind the last Nieuport and, before he knew what happened, blasted him out of the sky. I then attacked the next Nieuport in line and damaged it but then my guns jammed and the sky was also plastered with AA fire. I managed to get back to my base but my plane was going to be in the shop for several days.

    THAT WAS A GREAT TIME FLYING!

  7. Well guys took the plunge and wow im sorry 2 say i was wrong best $29.99 fantastic visuals campaign.and the sound and music are incredible thank you m milne but if anyones watching please please reduce the price of the expansion il buy for sure but never at $45 !!!! i understand that you are small company but expansion in my opinion to dear i do play ROF sometimes dutch.i just dont like the way 777 is going and how it does its business i believe that woff devs are very different from 777 and actually listen to its customers i like that (i look on simhq woff site very good) thank u armchair general and all woff team very good work

  8. Both companies have a different approach to game development, and as a result, you get very different games. Not to mention a different experience working for each. Having scored both ROF and WOFF, I can say that the more in-depth game, got the more in-depth score. WOFF is a wargame as well as a combat flight sim, it offers a lot more to the player: it offers the first world war from an aerial perspective. ROF is a great flight sim, and good for online play, but falls short as a wargame. I can do more for ROF (with its short 3-track soundtrack featured in PW:CG), but that depends on the developers and community. Scoring WOFF was an enjoyable and engaging experience, I would love to have again.

  9. Like many others here i played both RoF and WOFF. I think RoF has the more realistic and better flight model. And of Course RoF should be your choice if you like to play online – WOFF don´t even support Multiplayer.
    But if you like to play career mode, WOFF is so much better than RoF. It has a much better AI and makes you feel being a real pilot in WW1. This was something RoF never could provide to me (even with PWCG), i think mostly because its bad AI.
    Graphics of WOFF is also realy good. One important difference to RoF is, that it realy simulates weather. In RoF – even in deepest winter – it always looks like you just could go to the beach, there ar only a few clouds and thats all. WOFF has much better weather graphics but little worse planes.
    I would summarise it as follows:

    - Rof has better flight physics and offers multiplayer but in my case AI is to bad for single-player
    -WOFF offers a worse flight model and no multiplayer. But its AI and career-mode is i think the best you can get. The whole game is realy immersive and the whole environment you fly in feels realy authentic.

    Both games are really good and i´m glad that there are even such games around in 2015. But for me as single-player pilot WOFF is the way better choice. For single-player it offers so much more than RoF

  10. I have been part of the computer Flight Sim scene since an amusing (and barely recognizable as flying) long forgotten little nothing called ‘Spitfire’ on the Commodore 64. I played ‘Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe’ (arguably the first ‘good’ computer flight sim), the classic Dynamix ‘Aces’ series, the wonderful ‘Red Baron’ offerings from Dynamix, European Air War (the first sim that really looked great), All the exceptional iterations of IL2 and at least a dozen other entrants into the field. I played Air Warrior online when it was $6.00 an hour and and was running up $600 a month bills. Even when it went to AOL for $1.95 an hour, I can recall months of over $350 (Free to play KILLED it on AOL around 1998 as clueless riff-raff took over). Then it was Aces High until about 2008. Finally I’d had enough of the online garbage as the radio chatter and text lines were taken over by 14 year olds with foul mouths and no respect. Since then, it was back to all the IL2 stuff and the great community MODS for it like Dark Blue World. Still staying offline, it was then Cliffs of Dover, Rise of Flight and Battle of Stalingrad/Moscow. In case you missed it, what I’m saying is I have paid my dues and know the subject matter.

    In my humble and unsolicited opinion, the WoFF/RoF argument is a silly one. They are two very different animals… Both are excellent, but in different ways.

    For pure simulation of flight, WWI air-to-air combat and a legitimate ‘feel’ for being aloft in a WWI aircraft, Rise of Flight is peerless. It is graphically magnificent. It is also somewhat short on long term playability except for enjoying the previously mentioned aspects. The Pat Wilson Campaign Generator has made that issue pretty much a thing of the past. Still, even with the PWCG, ROF is rather dry and impersonal. That in no way detracts from its greatness and sheer beauty. It is a wonderful sim.

    Woff on the other hand, is the perfect hanger mate for RoF. It is a far more complete experience of WWI and WWI air combat. Living a daily life as a WWI pilot with a sense of the times both in and out of the air. A sense of being a WWI airman. Isn’t that the mark of a good simulator? That for a few hours it lets you become that person in that time period in that situation? WoFF does that better than RoF.

    RoF is great for online activity and has an active and strong community backing it up. WoFF is designed for the offline player who loves the simple act of sitting down at their computer and pretending to be a WWI pilot. Each product does what it sets out to do and despite the same subject matter at their respective hearts, they are significantly and delightfully different.

    I will also say the following and this is purely my own perspective and others will see it differently. As online gaming moves more and more away from its early efforts to recreate sims with a sense of reality (Air Warrior was a great example) and into watered down products for the masses like War Thunder, World of Tanks, World of Warships and so many other weak, historically absurd, but financially lucrative clones, having stand alone, single player, offline products like WoFF and private server based sims like RoF will be the only options for many of us.

    Rick W (Buff1 of the Brewster Buffalos Squadron in Air Warrior and Aces High, 1993-2008)

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