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New to the realm of World War II on-line simulations is HiTech Creations's Aces High. This ambitious project has been in a state of open beta since late September of last year. Now, five months later, Aces High (AH) is ready for prime time: The beta period is officially over. We'll take a look at Aces High's features as they currently stand, however since AH is very much a work in progress, don't be surprised if these features are changed or improved.

Aces High is currently available for free for a two week period. The executable and accompanying high-resolution art patch is available from HiTech Creations's (HTC) site here. The first thing we noticed was how small the program folder was once the game was installed. Our AH folder with art and sound files added is only 30 mb! Needless to say, after observing the small size of the install, we weren't quite sure what to expect from this on-line simulation: There is no way in hell that this game will stack up to single player sims such as EAW if it is only 30 megs in size. We then booted up the game and began configuring the options. The first glimmer of hope shone through when we set our video options. Resolutions up to 1600x1200 in either 16 or 32 bit color are available. Wow! After cranking up the resolution and color depth, we jumped into the off-line practice arena to take a few of the aircraft out for joyrides before venturing into the on-line arena. To sum up our initial first impression, we were blown away.

We've spent a good deal of time on the phone with Dale Addink, CEO of HiTech Creations regarding not only the features in Aces High that impressed us, but also areas of the game that gave us concern. The HTC staff is constantly flying in the arena testing and evaluating new game-play fixes, as well as listening to player feedback. The ability to converse real time with the developers of a game is very appealing, not to mention productive, and if every single player simulation had the ability for players to interact in such a manner with the people making the games, the simming world would be a much happier place. Below are descriptions of some of Aces High's features currently available, as well as a few new features that are on the way.

Flight Models

Writers as of late have been adding a disclaimer to their opinions of PC simulation flight models, unless of course they have time in the real aircraft. Well, none of us here at COMBATSIM.COM have flown in a WW II era Fighter, unless you count the ¼ scale radio control Bf-109 our editor has flown, but the ability to make a distinction between an excellent and a poor flight model in a game doesn't necessarily require one to have flown the aircraft in real life. Dale Addink (HTC) has not only flown a P-51, he has participated in mock dogfights with some pretty well known aviation writers. Suffice it to say, AH includes one of the best, if not the best, flight models in any prop sim to date, much less any on-line sim. Each of the available aircraft have historically accurate flight models, modeling everything from fuel burn rates to incurred drag from external stores. There of course is some embellishment, namely in the ability to automatically trim the aircraft for either level or specific angle of attack flight, but the ability to manually trim the control surfaces is available for those who wish to take care of this themselves. Torque modeling is especially well done, and care must be taken when power is initially being applied while taking off. A little too much throttle before the tail wheel comes off the tarmac, and you are probably going to die before ever getting airborne. Veterans will have little problem with this, but HTC is actually making it easier for new players to get off the ground, since this is such a common problem. A check box will be available for newer players, and this will allow them to get the aircraft off the ground, wheels up, and in a stable flight profile all automatically. Of course, you will still be able to take off manually if so desired.

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