|Air Warrior III
By Mark "Beakr" Desborough
I originally started playing Air Warrior on Compuserve in the summer of 1996, and played Air Warrior 2 for a little while after it came out. I was a bit underwelmed by Air Warrior 2, it didn’t seem like much of an upgrade at the time. In the winter of 1997 I moved to an area where Compuserve was hard to get at and my new ISP could give me 30 megabit unlimited access for $40 a month. Needless to say I cancelled my membership to Compuserve, and with it, my opportunity to play Air Warrior.
Fast forward to 1998. When Air Warrrior 3 appeared on a demo disk, with 3dfx support, I installed it very quickly. And again, I was not very impressed, the terrain and 3dfx effects did not work very well, and it played the same as AW2.
Just recently I went to the Gamestorm web site and decided to download the complete package, with all the artwork and give it one last try. I downloaded about 70 Mb (in 8 minutes!) of programs files, terrain and cockpit artwork. The installation is completely automatic, and quite painless. One of my main reasons for trying it was to I could play a flight sim with my force feedback joystick.
I configured all of my hardware and started playing. The number of players on line was a pleasant surprise (more than 500). There can be up to 150 players in any of the 6 theaters. There are 49 different aircraft modeled from three eras; World War 1, World War 2 and Korea.
The majority of players seem to like the WWII Europe the best, followed by WWII Pacific with carrier action. Each theater is divided up into three countries; A, B and C, who battle in a never ending war to capture their enemies bases. Bases must be ‘Prepped’ by bombing key points (tower, fuel, maintenance, ack) then paratroopers must be dropped on the base. Believe me, it is not as easy as it sounds.
Paratroopers are dropped from C-47 Gooney’s, and they are slow and defenseless, very easy prey for AAA or one pass by a skilled fighter pilot. Coordination with other pilots is very important, and herein lies the best part of AW3.
There are no virtual pilots in AW3, every plane you see is controlled by another human somewhere in the world. It could be an 8 year old kid or a grizzled old veteran. Bomber missions take this to a new level allowing up to eight people to occupy one B-17. One pilot, one navigator (pretty boring, nothing to do) and 6 gunners. With 3 or more gunners, the B-17’s live up to their Flying Fortress name, very dangerous.
AW3 has added a new dimension to the simulation. Users with sound cards (who doesn’t have a sound card these days?) and a mike can talk to other people in the plane, or on a specific radio channel. No more typing to other pilots or gunners in the middle of a dogfight! I have personally been waiting for something like this to arrive for years. It is the future of online gaming; real time voice communication adds a whole new depth to the experience.
Having said all that, I need to mention that VOX is new, and quality is not great, yet. You do not hear what you say, only what other people say and voices play over engine noise, so everyone has to speak very clearly. It took some tweeking in the WIN95 control panel before people could understand me.
As for online community, during a bombing mission last week, the pilot was in Wales, the chin gunner in Washington State, the ball gunner in Texas, upper gunner in Boston, and I was home in New Brunswick Canada! All of us talking to one another, flying on the same virtual aircraft, deep into C territory, fighting off hordes of oncoming attackers. Sound interesting? Its great!
The views look quite good in 3dfx, not quite as good as Hornet Korea, but quite close. The mountains and clouds look better, but the terrain is still pool table flat except for the mountains. Bases, cities, factories look good, and the structures within them are well modeled. Smoke looks great, from long distances black smoke can be see rising from burning bases, giving an immediate heading cue.
Other aircraft look quite good close up, but you cannot see the outside of your own aircraft except out of the designated windows. Another interesting feature is the different cockpits available. If you download all the cockpit art, every plane is different, further immersing you in the game.
Four new aircraft are included in AW3: the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa "Oscar" fighter, the Aichi D3A1 & the D3A2 "Val" divebomber, the Nakajima B5N "Kate," notorious for its role as the torpedo bomber that helped sink the aircraft carriers Hornet, Lexington, Yorktown & Wasp, and the Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero "Zeke." The "Zeke" was a much demanded plane by prop fans, being easily the best fighter in the Pacific when the US entered the war in 1941.
The view system supports three different window sizes, the smallest being the traditional AW with the view in the center surrounded by instruments (Pic 1). I usually use the full screen view, as they finally have enough working instruments in the full screen mode to be able to fly the aircraft.
The Combat and Full Screen Views have been improved in this new version, allowing you to see ALL your guages in the full screen view, and to see even distant targets and IDs in the full screen view. AI has been rewritten for CCPs to allow them more flexibility in combat manouvers and your AI wingmen will be better equipped to help you if you get into trouble.
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Last Updated April 29th, 1998