by Leonard (Viking1) Hjalmarson
Screen shots have moved from the printscreen key to CTL P. This generates a TGA file which outputs to the STILLS directory. Here are some shots from my recent forays into WWI flight....:
The Spad XIII
One of the greatest aircraft to arrive on the Allied side late in the war was the French Spad XIII. Immensely strong, it can be dived at great speed. This speed, in turn, can be converted into an excellent zoom climb. While its not wise to get into a turning fight with a triplane or a Fokker, boom and zoom tactics or the vrille manouver can be put to good use. The stability of the airframe also lends itself to this tactic since the gun itself remains stable even at high speed.
In order to avoid enemy attacks, use the Spad's excellent climbing performance. When you need to disengage, the great speed of this aircraft will come in handy! Its a good idea not to lose your energy with this aircraft, however, since it becomes more difficult to handle at low speed.
I didn't pay the Spad XIII much attention in the original release of Flying Corps, but I LIKE this aircraft, in fact its become my personal favorite! It doesn't turn like the Fokkers, but its other qualities and make boom n zoom tactics unbeatable. The engine also sounds a bit more throaty and I like that. Here is a shot, ain't she a beauty?
FC Gold adds the Fokker D-VII. Rowan may provide more aircraft so that more and more of the War can be explored. Better yet, at some point Rowan will provide the tools for the player to tweak the aircraft models. Whether this means a full scale designer or not has yet to be seen.
Gameplay and Mission Editor
Even though it IS beautiful, it can be wearying, especially if you are flying above the clouds! No worries, just hit the ol TAB key, so long as there are no enemies near, and you will enter time warp mode en route to your designated waypoint. Rowan has come up with a nice toggle option here that they call "Decelerate Trigger" toggle. It has two modes: Combat and Tactical Mode. If you select "tactical" you will be dropped back into reality in time to plan your next move. You will be near to an encounter of some kind, and you can manoeuver or gain altitude to try to establish a better attack. Enemy aircraft may run when they see you!
The "combat" toggle will drop you back into sim when you are directly threatened and you may be fired upon quite quickly. Enemy aircraft will be more aggressive if this option is selected, and will not try to escape.
In sim, pilots may take advantage of targets of opportunity, at their own risk, of course. Deciding to venture away from providing cap cover for a bombing run to strafe an enemy base may be tempting, but mess up and reap the consequences as your strike force gets shot down by an enemy squadron. Still, its great to have the option.
The sim also features sounds digitized from actual WWI aircraft, (would you believe 20 different ricochet sounds, and different engine sounds from a Camel to a Spad?). Engine sounds will include start-ups, normal running, droning, "coughing," and diving specific tones. There will be authentic sounds of Vickers, Spandau and Lewis machine guns. As I mentioned above, flying to close to another plane will give you not only the whoosh of the air deflection, but the FORCE of the compression on your own airframe. Of course,you can also hear the engine of the other aircraft. And if you are within a couple hundred meters when your bullets find their man, you will hear him groan.
Most modern sims have some kind of debrief feature. Flying Corps is not be an exception,
and after every flight a report is presented to you that details what you hit, AND what you missed. But better still, if you are particularly successful, you will be promoted through the ranks. When you attain the rank of Captain, you will be permitted to manage your squadron. As Captain you will decide who flies, where they fly in the squadron, and the number of flyers you take with you on a particular assignment.
Variable cloud layers are the latest buzz in up and coming
sims, and Flying Corps is no different. These effects are not only attractive,
they give a player more hiding options. But here is a big surprise: Rowan has included a
wind model! Possibly the most wanted feature in other recent sims (with the exception of Janes Longbow where it was included as an option). No more simply letting go of the joystick and expecting the world to unfold as it should....(grin).
As for those aerial melees, Rowan has placed
as many as 48 aircraft in the brew at a time. For those who make the grade, once
achieving Ace status (five kills) the pilot can paint his own plane. Choice is
apparently unlimited: the paint shop on the base is a separate module, but
the player only receives the keys after promotion.
Damage modelling is very detailed.: wings damaged or lost, fuel tank leaks, oil leaks, engine damage, control surface damage etc. Pilots will also sustain varying degrees of injury. Its a bit startling to watch the landing gear from a Fokker DRI drift by your aircraft after you shear it off with your gun. If you take hits you might have a wing bent or hanging by a thread, more hits and away it goes! When aircraft come apart, they really COME APART. Try shooting up a tent at an airbase and watch the soldiers come flocking out, taking shots at you with 303s! Rowan has also included an impact toggle if you like to see the impact.
The other addition to the original, however small it is in the overall scheme of things, is the auto padlock option. When enabled, the padlock view switches automatically between the inside and outside view or the "target sight" and outside view. Switching to the outside view occurs whenever the padlocked aircraft cannot be displayed on the inside view. Switching to the inside view occurs when the padlocked aircraft would be in the centre of the inside view.
Furthermore, a peripheral view mode can be enabled from the "extras" configuration screen. When enabled, aircraft that are off screen but in real life would have been seen in the pilot’s peripheral vision are displayed as blobs at the side of the screen. In addition, on the inside padlock view a wire frame of the player’s aircraft is displayed above the aircraft. This is to compensate for a computer pilots lack of "seat of the pants" feedback. The wire frame indicates the aircraft orientation when there are no parts of the "real" aircraft visible on screen.
On V1.0 the number pad arrow keys are used to pan around the cockpit. This option has been retained for Gold. However a scroll lock key operates a toggle between the existing "panning" views and a set of fixed views:
- 1 left back quarter
- 2 6 o’clock view
- 3 right back quarter
- 4 left
- 5 look straight up
- 6 right
- 7 left forward quarter
- 8 forward
- 9 right forward quarter
The major addition in FC Gold is the mission editor. The planner will allow the player to build missions, campaigns and careers that can be played in Flying Corps, even in the DOS version though the editor itself requires WIN95. I was surprised that the editor is an entirely separate module in WIN95, not requiring you to enter the simulator at all. You can then design a mission from scratch or load an existing mission and modify all the parameters. Events can also be assigned to 'hot spots' on the ground, so if you fly near an enemy base, aircraft will scramble and AAA will engage. The mission building tools include:
- Event Macros that allow you to set up complex encounters and situations within a mission.
- Historically accurate pre-defined Templates can be used to populate the "world".
- An editable historical database that can be used to define opposition and friendly squadrons.
One of the huge benefits of the editor is that it allows the creation of fairly complex land battles. If you've been waiting to hone your ground attack skills and wishing for move involvement in CAS missions this is for you! Want to set up a clash of large armies with many tanks and fly support missions? Go for it! You want trucks and supply trains and artillery involved? Why not! And yes, you can even add troops!
Once your mission is prepared, you can click on RUN and it will compile and you are launched into the mission. Now that you can also choose to MINIMIZE FC rather than exit completely this combination works very nicely. However, its not advisable to do this if you have only 16 meg of Ram.
Rowan has taken an interesting approach to the campaigns, designing three scripted ones and a fourth (Battle of Cambrai) that is dynamic. The Battle of Cambrai is the first. A mass of British tanks, Royal Flying Corps squadrons, infantry and cavalry is approaching Cambrai, a bastion for the German army. This was the first battle where tanks were massed and used to lead the attack. The player takes the part of a Central Powers Pilot at the forward airbase of Flesquieres. Allied tanks have already rolled through Havrincourt, and are now approaching your airfield.
Spring Offensive is the second. This campaign is concerned with the Spring Offensive (the "Push") mounted by the Central Powers in March of 1918. The player takes the part of a new RFC pilot who arrived on the front in February. In the early missions the player has to prove himself. He needs to prove he is a quick learner and he will be given progressively more difficult and important missions. By the end of the campaign, he should have his own Squadron. There are 4 stages to the campaign:
Initiation (1st - 4th February)
The player must prove he is good enough to go into combat. For instance, there is a
training mission in which the player must try to stay close to his Commander who
is maneuvering to shake him off.
Pre-"Push" (4th February - 20th March) consists of balloon busting and other strike missions.
The "Push" (21st March - 5th April).
During this period the Central Powers overran the Allies in the Arras-Amiens area. By the 5th they had reached within miles of
Amiens. The advance then sputtered to a halt; the Central Powers had over extended
their supply lines and the Allied defence held firm. During this period the
player will fly a range of close air support missions.
Last Effort (6th - 25th April).
The offensive had petered out by the 5th April.
However, there is still a chance of a last effort. The Central Powers are desperate
to break through and take Amiens. The strength of this last effort will depend on
how well the player has done in previous missions. In the last mission, the player will
fly close air support missions during the first ever tank Vs tank battle. Even if
the Central Powers position is strong, the player will still have the chance of
stopping the advance into Amiens. Von Richthofen is killed on 21-3-1918.
Hat in the Ring is the third campaign. The Hat in the Ring was the insignia of the American 94th Squadron. Eddie Rickenbacker, the famous American Ace, started in this Squadron and in a few short months became the Squadron Leader. You are Rickenbacker, eager to achieve fame, but reluctant to lose the loyalty and teamwork that has made the squadron what it is. Objectives: Exceed Rickenbackers record, gain command of the squadron and win the Congressional Medal of Honour by the end of the war, but keep the team together at all costs.
The fourth campaign is Flying Corps. Tou are Lothar Von Richthofen, brother of Manfred, the Red Baron. Your brother has gone on leave, and you are now in command of Jasta 11. Albert Ball leads the 56th squadron against the German lines, and the Allies have seized Vimy Ridge. Objectives: Achieve the glory and fame you are desperate for by matching your brother's 52 victories. You have one month before he comes back... ...plan
your missions carefully, second best is not good enough.
The new campaign to Flying Corps Gold is a French Air Force campaign. I flew a mission titled Over the Top and another titled Rude Awakening and they compare to the best missions in the original release.
Graphics Support and Multiplayer
The major improvement is the support of 3d cards using Windows 95 Direct 3D. The advantages are increased frame rate and colour depth (256 to 65536 colours). Currently 3Dfx and Rendition chip-sets are supported by the Windows 95 Direct 3D implementation of Flying Corps. The theoretical advantage of using Direct 3D is that new cards should be easily supported as they become available.
The Multi-player option will allow modem, network and Wireplay connection. The upgrade patch for the original Flying Corps will be limited to "death match" play. The team play option in Gold will allow: implode, explode and random placement. Players choose their side based upon the nationality of their chosen aircraft. Essentially, Fokker Dr1 and Albatros pilots will team up against the rest.
The mechanism for upgrading existing users has not been agreed on yet. Are there any disappointments for me in FC Gold? Really only one: the blocky and last generation special effects have remained. Not a huge drawback, but it would have been nice to see hardware 3d effects take over here also. Maybe in a future update?
With a rating of 90% or better in each category, Combat Simulations awards Flying Corps Gold their "Best Of" award!
The Thrustmaster files supplied with FC are weak... here are mine. These files are designed for use with the F22 Pro and the TQS, but can be easily modified for FLCS.
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Last Updated November 28th, 1997