|An Inside Straight With Aces High|
From The Book of Dweeb
In the beginning there was the Land of Warbirds. Over this land hovered HITECH and PYRO, who had lovingly created it. And many were the men and women from across the globe who came and saw the Land and the Air where dids't fly the aircraft of their forefathers. And the people were amazed.
And lo' dids't they feel privileged to pay two US dollars an hour to fly the aircraft of their forefathers. Lo' there were Dora Dweebs and Vulchers and Alt' Monkeys and multifarious creatures of the air. And the creatures made scenarios and held conventions. HITECH and PYRO looked upon their Land and said it was Good.
The End of the Beginning
Then, unto the land came the new gods. The two-faced Gods of Venture Capital and the wing'd, horn'd Lawyers. And they spaketh to HITECH and PYRO of gold and paper "stocks" and the Creators were swayed by their sweet words and sold the Land to the new IMOL Gods.
In time, the IMOL Gods grew boastful and full of pride that they ruled the fine Land of Warbirds. Yea dids't they forget that their profit center was the product of the Creators. So, in a fit of pique they drove HITECH and PYRO from the Land. And, as the last of their steadfast men dwindled away, HITECH and PYRO looked one to the other and with fire in their eyes they vowed, "We will make a new land my brother. We can make it better. For we are the original Gods of Warbirds."
So much for mythology. Dale Addink and Doug Balmos don't want much out of life. They just want to make the most immersive, realistic Second World War combat flight simulator in the world.
Now, most people in society- at-large would consider this an odd and quixotic career goal at best -- assuming that they even recognized that there was a WWII combat flight simulator field to be the best in. Generally speaking these people would be right. However, Dale "HITECH" Addink and Doug "PYRO" Balmos have one thing going for them; they've already done it once.
And so, on September 28, HITECH and PYRO, now organized as Hitech Creations, Inc., released the public beta of Aces High. Aces High is designed to host up to 1000 players in a highly realistic World War II air and ground combat environment. The system requirements are hefty, a 200MHz Windows-based computer with a 3D card is the base system. The beta's core download is rather compact however, at a mere 3.5 megabytes.
Enough about the glorious careers of these two, the main question is how does it stack up against the competition?
Well dear reader, the flight model is great, almost every detail of aircraft modeling is attended to, the graphics are unfinished but off to a very good start, and the general atmosphere is designed to keep the player deeply immersed in the illusion that they are a World War II flying ace.
AH Loadout Interface
Long time WWII flight sim junkies will be gratified to know that the curious sheep obsession that pervades the genre continues unabated and sheep safely graze alongside the airstrips, nay even on the airstrips.
Anyone who comes to Aces High from Air Warrior, MS Fighter Ace or the recent iterations of Warbirds is going to be in for a whale of a surprise. Once logged in, the player goes to the oh-so-familiar control tower where he is assigned a clipboard which allows control of all game settings, even while in flight. The clipboard goes everywhere the player goes, including to his knee in the aircraft.
First, off to the Map Room to get a look at the combat situation and choose an airfield. The AH world is divided into three countries, the Knights, the Rooks, and the Bishops. Once one has decided to fly either for the horsies, castles, or pointy-thingies, one's little avatar scuttles across the field to the hangar where one picks one's ride for the day.
The current aircraft stable comprises the usual suspects plus some choices that have been much sought-after by enthusiasts. Currently available the current beta, which as of this writing is version .35, are: The North American P-51D Mustang, The Douglas C-47 Skytrain, The Boeing B-17G, the Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX, the Lavochkin La-5N and the Messerschmitt Bf-109G10.
In the very near future HTC plans to add the Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden Kai "George,"and the Focke Wulf 109A-8. These will be followed in short order by the Macchi C.205 Veltro, Consolidated B-26 Liberator, Hawker Typhoon , Chance-Voight F4-U Corsair and Lockheed P-38, -- variants unknown at this time. PYRO, who designs the flight models, says that they hope to ramp up to a pace of releasing 3-4 aircraft and variants per month.
While picking out one's aircraft, one is faced with a series of options which include bomb loads, external fuel tanks, rockets and common battlefield modifications. This includes, for example on the Bf-109G10, the twin 20mm wing gondolas cannon or, on the Spitfire, a choice between the 20mm cannon with four .303 cal. or two .50 caliber guns in wing.
One can also set the convergence in the hangar area. Included in AH is a feature that is, to my knowledge, a first in the flight sim market, the ability to set incremental convergence for each pair of wing guns, i.e., 200 yards for the inside pair, 225 yards on the middle and 250 yards on the outside of the three pairs of .50 caliber guns on the P-51. This was a common practice in real life and adds not only more realism but will help many players' gunnery, yours truly included.
Oh, the external tanks. You'll need those. The arena settings are currently set for a high fuel consumption rate. This is mostly to test the multiple fuel tank modeling. Any reasonably long sortie will eat up your internal fuel in a hurry. You will naturally discard your external tanks upon sighting bandits. Just be sure to switch back to the internal fuel tanks first.
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Last Updated October 20th, 1999