by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
1999 is proving to be a banner year for simulation fans, and will get even better yet! With the advent of ISDN and cable, the growth of online gaming services, some incredible simulations on the market or coming soon and some great new hardware, it will soon be possible to reach (insert drum roll here)... peripheral perfection!
Peripheral perfection can be graphed on a curve where the state of simulation sensory overload (ie. gaming pleasure) increases geometrically with the number of wires that find their way to the back of your PC, snaking their way to USB ports, game ports, and sound board inputs, primarily.
For the purposes of this article, I've chosen my current favorite sims and combined them with the best hardware I can gather. I then signed a blood pact with my wife that I would EVENTUALLY come to bed, closed my office door, and prepared for three hours of gaming fun. All in the name of science, you understand. SIGH... what I won't do for my readers!
The sims of choice are these: European Air War, MiG Alley (beta), M1 Tank Platoon II, and Red Baron II. I might have added Fighter Squadron to the mix if the new aircraft with revised flight models had been released. I've excluded Falcon 4.0 because I haven't had time to stay current with it and since it is fly-by-wire a force feedback stick is less realistic.
The peripherals of choice are these: Logitech Wingman Force, CH Pedals, Aura Interactor Vest, Game Commander mic and software, and the Microsoft Sound System 80 or Creative Labs new FPS2000 four speaker surround sound system.
The system to which these peripherals owe their life is as follows:
European Air War and Red Baron II
Both these sims are excellent and great representations of what you can do with force feedback and voice command. I haven't spent much time with Red Baron II recently, but it was fun to fly a couple of missions in the campaign. I spent about twenty minutes building a basic configuration file for Red Baron II for Game Commander.
I've always enjoyed the Spad XIII and the Fokker DR.I. Force feedback support in Red Baron II3d is quite good, and the sound is likewise quite good. Here is my story..
April, 1918, at the Meuse-Argonne Front
8 AM. I am taking to the air in my Fokker D VII. I am flying as wingman in one of two squadrons of four aircraft. I was startled to learn that two aircraft have no ammunition, but orders are that we fly anyway, and they tell me that von Reich is a crack shot with his pistol...
At 8:15 we are crossing Allied lines at 8000 feet, and a moment later we spot them! A flight of at least four Camels and a pair of triplanes at 9 o'clock, at roughly the same altitude as us, and they haven't seen us yet! We begin to climb, hoping to break into the cloud cover at 10,000 feet before they can spot us...
No good, they have seen us and are also making altitude, and a minute later we are engaging. The triplanes are nowhere to be seen, however, and I find myself worrying about where they went! Luckily, the British pilots did not see our second squadron of four (two without machine gun shells), who come diving out of the clouds behind the Camels just as we engage.
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