Wot I Think: DCS A-10C Warthog

By Tim Stone on April 10th, 2011 at 1:00 pm.

Eagle Dynamics, I doff my hat-switch to you. DCS: A-10C is remarkable. My hard drive has never hangared a more thoroughly modelled facsimile of a modern fixed-wing combat aircraft. I’ve never clambered into a virtual cockpit and seen fewer places in which a pilot might safely prop a beverage container or stick a satsuma sticker. I’ve certainly never encountered a sim that pleased so many of my peers yet left me so ratty and conflicted.

I wasn’t intending to pen this piece until I could do things like perform a cold start and deliver laser-guided bomb without reference to notes. In the last week or two I’ve arrived at the sad realisation that this level of competence may never happen. Why the defeatism?

Unfortunately I’m one of the DCS: A-10C users that makes regular fact-finding trips to the Crash Forum. Despite recent patches and lots of experimentation, my sorties are still almost as likely to end with an error message as a gratifying taxi to a bomb-proof hog sty. That’s assuming they begin in the first place. Whether I’m endeavouring to explore one of the three campaign sortie sequences, messing around in Instant Action mode, or attempting to concoct my own training missions with the mission builder, freezes, CTDs and interminable load times are rarely far away.

In isolation, technical gremlins like this might be just about endurable. In combination with   exhausting complexity, they’re an invitation to slink away sulkily. Maybe I’m getting old and lazy, but A-10C really does seem like Awfully Hard Work. Put aside arcade mode (which itself manages to be slightly confusing thanks to poor coverage in the Quick Start Guide) and you’ve got weeks of hard slog ahead of you before the star of the sim feels like a friend rather than a foe. As with Black Shark, ED cater for incorrigible loafers and eager swots but not the vast number of Sunday simmers somewhere in-between.

If you’re about to dash off a comment along the lines of “Grow a backbone Stone. Serious sims require serious study!” please hold fire for a moment. I understand that a creation as unflinching as this one, is going to involve some mental application. My problem is that training environment ED provide, is nowhere near as realistic as their combat environment. There has to be something amiss when, during his first week of play, a bright(ish) sim reviewer finds himself forced to make pages of hand-written procedural notes, and scour forums for step-by-step guides. There has to be room for improvement when time and time again trips to the test range end in confusion, hung munitions, and unscathed targets.

It’s not that ED aren’t making an effort – the highlighted instrumentation during training jaunts, and always-available ‘active pause’ facility are very helpful. The trouble is they’re tinkering when they should be revolutionising. [Appeal mode on] Serious flight sim fabricators, there are thousands of curious Silent Hunters, ARMAphiles and Wings of Prey-ers, out there ripe for assimilation. One of the things you need to do to turn a neck-craning tourist into a dedicated fan is make training fun, comprehensive and fully integrated. There really is no excuse for not offering truly interactive instruction these days, no reason why all cockpit confusion shouldn’t be banishable with a few clicks in a ‘How Do I? … menu.

My unwillingness to endure A-10C’s lengthy initiation process and muddle through its mechanical teething troubles might also have a little to do with over-familiarity. The Hog is a fascinating creature no doubt, but by sending it to the Caucasus and involving it in a characteristically skeletal canned campaign, the devs don’t display it in a particularly fresh or alluring light. If you’ve flown Lock On, Flaming Cliffs, and DCS: Black Shark, the action and the venue may all seem rather familiar. I realise this is the work of a small team but would it really have taken that much effort to shift the stage to somewhere sandier, junglier or archpelagoier? Your faithful fans might be content to fly over Tbilisi for the thousandth time. Me and that chap over there in the MiG Alley t-shirt really fancied East Africa or the Caribbean this year.


 
Am I done griping? Yes, pretty much. In between my bouts of frustration I’ve seen enough of the  superlative flight, damage, and weather modelling, to recognise that a fellow could have a lot of fun coping with their confluences. I’m sure if the predictably friendly/powerful mission builder was a little less temperamental, I could happily wile away an evening or twelve devising quirky combat challenges. DCS: A-10C also deserves a hearty slap on the back for reuniting simmers with a weapon Beelzebub himself described as “indecent”. When you’re chewing up convoys with a nineteen foot long Gatling gun talk of bugs and avionic overload does seem rather petty.

A quick scan of forums like this one and this one reveals many happy Hog fliers. If you’re one of these then feel free to cluster-bomb the following comments section with breathtaking battle anecdotes and glowing testimonials. While the sim has gone out of its way to furrow my brow and squander my time, I recognise that things could have been quite different. Somewhere in a parallel universe, a T. Stone with a different combination of hardware, better peripherals (I suspect ownership of this beauty make the learning process far more tolerable), more stoicism and a greater inclination towards gaming monogamy, is having a whale of a time with DCS: A-10C.

His Wot I Think would include passages like this: “I’m now at a point when I never need to open the pdf manual. I reach for switches instinctively. I don’t so much operate the Hog as wear it” and this: “One of gaming’s most rewarding experiences is the feeling of power and accomplishment that comes from mastering a rigorously modelled war machine. When the machine is as rigorously modelled as ED’s Warthog then that feeling verges on the intoxicating.” 

It would likely conclude with a video like this:

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122 Comments »

  1. Guiscard says:

    Warthog? I think it looks more like a puma.

    • Evil Otto says:

      Puma? I think it looks more like a Hyena.

    • Chris D says:

      Hyena? No, it’s clearly a Buffalo.

    • Navagon says:

      Buffalo? No, it’s clearly a Jackal.

    • Premium User Badge Napalm Sushi says:

      I thought it was a plane.

    • Andy`` says:

      Puma? I hardly know her!

      (There’s this really old A10 game I used to play that was lovely, easy to pickup and go with…but I always wished it got more complex. This sounds like it has the complete opposite problem, but makes it worth your while. Why have the two schools of thought not converged, or would that just result in ED essentially making two games?)

    • Teddy Leach says:

      A plane? Nay, it’s obviously a bird.

    • Mr_Day says:

      It has tusks on the front. What sort of animal has tusks on the front?

    • Navagon says:

      Well I suppose it’s better than having tusks on your arse.

    • Orvidos says:

      @Andy

      Perhaps you’re thinking Sierra’s Silent Thunder A-10 Tank Killer series? It still tugs at my heartstrings, like the rosey-tinted bastard it is.

      This may jog your memory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhkNWrlDV94&feature=related

      (It may also send you into fits of hysteria at how bad/generic it is. Ahhh, nostalgia.)

    • Caleb367 says:

      Huge freakin’ gun with wings.
      And that’s it.

    • vandinz says:

      I thought it was a series of Polygons pieced together in such a way as to look like a plane. I win.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      It looks more like a snarky internet comment to me.

    • Oak says:

      Methinks it is like a weasel.

    • Hendo says:

      Stop making up animals!

    • ChampionHyena says:

      Didn’t I just tell you to stop making up animals?

    • TH0TH says:

      I don’t know what you’ve all been smoking but that is quite clearly a Chrysaor. Based on what i’m smoking it is anyway ;)

    • Andy`` says:

      @Orvidos
      I found out what it was, and I’m sad to say it wasn’t that. It was A-10 Cuba. But now I’ve realised what it was I’m starting to think my memories of it are a complete fabrication designed to forget about the awful menu music they used, which is apparently my only true memory of the game.
      I couldn’t find that menu theme (its just some guy saying “A-10″ in a macho voice over and over to generic music, you wouldn’t want to hear it). I did, however, find this trailer. This should tell you all you need to know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUpouWkMM8Y

    • Orvidos says:

      Those buildings make my soul weep, Andy. That is truly hideous. (Those are buildings, right?)

      Silent Thunder didn’t look amazing for todays standards (and I’m not even sure how it looked by then) but it did have this. . .beautifully rendered cutscene.

    • Andy`` says:

      I think the horrible blocks are supposed to represent a city but I have no idea. There are more reasonably sized blocked to represent airfields and stuff, but I think this same game has a space map of some sort (you can sort of see it in the trailer), so its hard to take its structural layouts seriously

  2. Navagon says:

    There do seem to be problems with the game beyond those you’ve mentioned. That plane with one wing? I’m lead to believe that in real life it’s supposed to have two.

    EDIT: Clickable images probably shouldn’t be.

    • Rii says:

      Actually what’s wrong with that image is that the pilot appears to have ejected. Everyone knows that the A-10 is impossible to kill.

    • stahlwerk says:

      The Warthog doesn’t care much about symmetry, quoth Wikipedia: “The aircraft is designed to fly with one engine, one tail, one elevator and half a wing torn off.”

    • dragonhunter21 says:

      So far as that goes, an F-15 once flew all the way back to base on one wing (without realizing).

    • Nick says:

      you couldn’t not realise you were missing a wing.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Pickup line: “Hey baby, are you an F-15 pilot? Cuz they don’t realize they’ve lost their wings, either.”

      *smugface*

    • Oak says:

      you couldn’t not realise you were missing a wing.

      You could if you were texting while flying. Pilots these days, no responsibility.

    • Dozer says:

      The Israeli Air Force F-15 that landed with only one wing:
      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_WtnYwFZtgHI/RkUgMnTKY6I/AAAAAAAAACQ/7RCEFg-gn4I/s1600-h/F15-3.JPG

      But an F-15 can fly fast enough that the remaining wing can produce enough lift, and the remaining control surfaces have enough control authority, that you can manage something like that (if you’re amazingly well-trained and skilled and lucky). I don’t think the A-10 has enough engine thrust to fly with only one wing.

  3. KFJ says:

    I would like to tell you a tale of my first playing of this glorious series of hardcore sims.

    I was in instant action in Black Shark, I had no idea what to do. Suddenly a lady starts speaking urgently in Russian, I was all “Oh shiiiii-” And then I got shot down & died. Ah, what a wonderful game that was.

    Then I tried DCS: A-10C. I go again into instant action, and while in mid-air I naturally decided to “Get some fresh air” by opening the canopy. When I wanted to close, it didn’t. I looked into third person and it was gone. Me and my friend exchange high-pitched “YEEEAAAAAAH CONVERTIBLE WARTHOG WOOOOO”s and high fives.

    It’s beautiful.

    Shame I don’t have a joystick.

  4. DSR says:

    Ewww… Windows XP…

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Ewww… Whatever you’re using…

    • Benjamin L. says:

      No seriously, ew XP. That’s probably part of the crashing problem right there.

    • Nick says:

      Yes, an operating system at this point in its life is NOTORIOUS for being unstable.

      *rolls eyes*

    • Benjamin L. says:

      No, it’s notorious for being a decade old, unsupported, outdated, and yes, less stable than its current successor.

    • Creeping Death says:

      Nothing in that error screen says 100% that he is using XP. He could just as easily be using Vista or 7 with the XP skin….

      Hell I have my windows etc looking like Windows 98…

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      @Creeping Death

      Indeed, I feel sorry for all the millions of dollars of work MS did designing AERO or whatever windows 7 GUI is supposed to look like when all I did the first hour in was make it look like windows 2000 again.

    • yourgrandma says:

      Get over your self. xp is just as stable as windows 7. This is the lock on engine that originally used DX8. Graphics haven’t improved all the much to warrant dx10/11 from what i see. Windows version more than likely has nothing to do with it.

  5. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Serious flight sim fabricators, there are thousands of curious Silent Hunters, ARMAphiles and Wings of Prey-ers, out there ripe for assimilation. One of the things you need to do to turn a neck-craning tourist into a dedicated fan is make training fun, comprehensive and fully integrated. There really is no excuse for not offering truly interactive instruction these days, no reason why all cockpit confusion shouldn’t be banishable with a few clicks in a ‘How Do I? … menu.

    Please, leave flight sims away from mainstream demands and let it remain a niche product highly appreciated for its complexity and fidelity.

    If you want all of that you are talking about, ask for a new genre. Leave flights sims as they are. I’d appreciate if one of the last pure genres on this god forsaken industry remained so.

    If you can’t handle it, I’d appreciate you didn’t review flight sims. Something for which you seem clearly unqualified.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Sorry, they need to be more accessable to a wider audience in order to recoup the considerable investment required for the next-generation graphics which the fans demand.

      Let’s start by streamling the controls down to what will fit on an X-Box controller. A couple of analogue sticks should be plenty—that’s twice as many as an old-fashioned joystick!

    • Gunrun says:

      Mario. You’re awful. People like you are why the flight sim genre died in the first place, with basically no one making anything anymore. Having an interactive tutorial has no disadvantages, at all.

    • stahlwerk says:

      I think the magic word here is option: provide a simplified control scheme that fits on the xbox controller, if Microprose could do it 20 years ago, so can you! (granted, they often used the whole keyboard, but at least provided a cardboard overlay for the most common key layouts.) Sunday simmers can switch to it and just take in the scenery and flight model, enthusiasts can still use their cardboard pits and ipads and force sensitive flight stick replicas and whatnot.

      No need to turn it into arcade mode either (adding an afterburner and quadruple missile load out), there’s lots and lots of middle ground.

    • Bhazor says:

      He isn’t demanding less complexity.
      He’s asking for better instructions and for tutorials that actually explain the controls.

      I mean that would be more realistic. Because I don’t think most pilots learn to fly a new prop by reading a manual and checking forums whilst sat on thier own in a cockpit.

    • stahlwerk says:

      ha, yes, of course. Kind of ironic, considering the roots of the Flight Sim genre lie deep within the flight education hardware of the late 70s. I would actually rather like to play a game where you would be tutored towards learning the intricacies of flying such a noble beast. The 19 foot gun would be considered a welcome bonus.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      If TIM STONE isn’t qualified to review your flight sim, you’re not qualified to make flight sims

    • Premium User Badge Horza says:

      Currently my relationship with just about any sim goe like this:

      1) Buy a submarine/flight/whatever sim
      2) Go to settings, MAXIMUM REALISM
      3) “Oh this stuff is pretty hard to figure out, maybe I’l play something else for now”

      A good and rewarding interactive tutorial (one that would for example tell you what you did wrong) would go a long way in getting me past step 3.

    • danimalkingdom says:

      Ooo get you Mario! Why are you even on RPS? Tim Stone’s points are utterly valid. I love a good sim, but I have no idea how to fly an A-10 and would definitely need some tutoring. If this isn’t provided by the developers then it turns off a lot of would-be sim gamers.

      Oh. And Rise Of Flight For The Win

    • Premium User Badge Arathain says:

      Tee hee. He called Tim Stone unqualified to review flight sims.

    • jeremypeel says:

      ‘Accessibility’ as a word might be damaged by its connotations with dumbing down, but really, it doesn’t have to mean anything of the sort. A good – optional – tutorial doesn’t have to change a damn thing, and any additional sense of complexity caused by lack of understanding is entirely artificial.

      If you’re simply advocating new player confusion as a way to retain niche-dom then I’d argue you don’t really have the best interests of the genre at heart. And that you need to leave Tim fucking Stone’s journalistic credentials alone, as he’s one of the best we have.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Please leave your comments out of RPS Mario. You’re clearly not qualified to use the English language.

    • Nick says:

      Thats almost as funny as the guy on PCGamer who decided Richard Cobbett shouldn’t review adventure games because he clearly knew nothing about them.

    • Dozer says:

      Mario, he said that DCS:A10 only works well on two realism settings: arcade, and hyper-realistic. He wants better middle-ground for the people who want (and can handle) more complexity than Arcade but don’t want to subscribe to an Open University correspondence course in A-10 Flight Operations just to get the engines started.

    • Dozer says:

      On the other hand, I don’t have any of the Eagle Dynamics games since Lock On (preferring WW2 shooters – I mean, Il-2 Sturmovik and its offspring) but I’d be very very very surprised if the realism options aren’t scalable enough to meet Tim Stone’s needs here. There must be a ‘Complex Engine Start yes/no’ option, a ‘Realistic Sidewinder Seeker Head Refrigeration yes/no’ option. Or a ‘quick engine start’ keybinding, that automatically starts the engine and then sets all the fuel pumps and hydraulic accumulators and electrical generators to the appropriate settings. Surely?

    • bartleby says:

      Missions can start on the ramp (cold), on the runway, or in the air. I think it depends on the mission editor, though, and it’s not a global option. Forget if there’s a quick startup key. Startup is actually pretty easy on the A-10, IMO. Just a bit boring waiting for EGI alignment.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      If TIM STONE isn’t qualified to review your flight sim, you’re not qualified to make flight sims

      This one had me laughing. I’m sure that’s not what you wanted to say. Perhaps, that I’m unqualified to play them?

      Anyways, I felt like reacting to the reactions to my reaction. But What’s the point, right? I’m only going to repeat what I already said and you will still call me a douche and suggest I leave RPS because I committed a capital sin: My opinion isn’t your cup of tea.

    • m3metix says:

      I know we’re supposed to keep it civil here, but fuck that shit. Mario you sound like some knuckle-dragging, shit-licking, Aryan Nation motherfucker. Shove your genre purity up your wrinkly shit-hole. Choke on a bag of dicks.

    • Premium User Badge QuantaCat says:

      and while you’re at it, go hug a nazi! they like that!

  6. Malleus says:

    “My problem is that training environment ED provide, is nowhere near as realistic as their combat environment.”

    Have to agree with that one. It’s pretty much the bane of all simulation games. And it’s not just the switchology, but the too often missing tactical training – you know how to operate the plane, okay, but what to do when a SAM missile is headed your way?

    All in all though, I’m still glad “games” like this exist. :)

    • Premium User Badge Wisq says:

      Training is something that I think Falcon 4.0 did perfectly.

      The original game came with this massive binder – literally, a custom skinned three ring binder. Inside was a fantastic thick manual, authored by a real F-16 flight instructor. The first portion were a series of chapters tied closely to canned training engagements in the game, including a missile evasion course that gives you the choice of a different missile threat in each of the four cardinal directions for you to pick and evade at will.

      Also included was background information on theory and practice, such as turning rate vs. turning radius vs. speed, or whole chapters on air combat tactics. And that’s all before it moved on to the reference chapters that explained every little button, despite the training chapters having already told you which ones you really needed to know.

      No handholding needed, aside from a special (and wonderful) “freeze” mode that lets you pause the action while still letting your radar and electronics keep working, so you can make sense of your situation, or read the relevant portion of the manual. No handholding given, either – the training missions are less hectic than campaign situations, but otherwise subject to the exact same rules. And varying levels of realism, including some reasonably-priced minor assists – for example, enabling maximum air-to-air refuelling assistance only costs me 3% of my score (refuelling is hard), compared to 20% for unlimited countermeasures or 100% for outright invincibility.

      I went from “yeah, I played a couple hours of Microsoft Flight Simulator 3 as a kid” straight up to “holy crap I can fly an F-16″ because of Falcon, in a very short amount of time. I still play it on and off, and I’m still not a total pro and still have some situational awareness (SA) issues at times, but I would definitely cite Falcon as an example of how flight sims don’t need to be unapproachable – and of how you don’t actually need an extensive in-game scripted tutorial in a controlled scripted environment to teach players something complex, so long as they’re willing to read your training guide and reference the manual now and then.

  7. Bhazor says:

    “There really is no excuse for not offering truly interactive instruction these days, no reason why all cockpit confusion shouldn’t be banishable with a few clicks in a ‘How Do I? … menu.”

    Microsoft Paperclip: Your engines appear to be on fire. Would you like some advice?

    • LionsPhil says:

      “CAUTION. It looks like you’re nosediving into the ground. Would you like to PULL UP, PULL UP, PULL UP?”

    • patricij says:

      Snake? Snaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake….

    • Sardaukar says:

      DIVE DIVE DIVE HIT YOUR BURNERS PILOT!

    • Highstorm says:

      Having just played through that yesterday, your comment made my day, Sardaukar. Cheers!

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      “You have selected chaff. Are you sure you want to…Unhandled Exception: Death”

  8. Walsh says:

    I’m a weekend simmer. You only need about an hour of prep time. Print out graphics of your joystick; and using the manual Warthog stick as a reference, map as many controls to your stick as possible and write them down on your print out. THIS IS KEY since most of the Warthog functions are performed using its HOTAS: the coolie switch, tms, hat, boat, fancy man, etc.

    Then print out the obscure weapon delivery checklists for reference.
    I don’t bother learning the exact cold start stuff; frankly for a lot of the stuff order doesn’t matter, just getting the engines fed and started requires particular detail.

    Some guy wrote how to blow stuff up article on SimHQ which summarizes the basics of getting weapons delivered. For most of them, there’s common actions that you re-use between weapon types.

    Edit: I just found someone made a super awesome PDF of those goofy HOTAS switch commands: http://www.mudspike.com/HOTASGraphicalLayout.pdf

  9. Premium User Badge Joshua says:

    Wings of Prey / Birds of Prey should get a lot more attention. It might convince other Sim Producers to learn from it’s wise lessons.

    • stahlwerk says:

      As of last month-ish it’s also now DRM-free. Edit: on steam at least: http://store.steampowered.com/news/5149/

    • Premium User Badge Joshua says:

      Really!? I misssed that. Thanks.

    • Orvidos says:

      Lord and lady, how did I miss that? I picked up for a Steam sale, because DRM, while annoying, can be ignored for 7 odd USD. Unfortunately, I was totally wrong in that assessment for WoP, and dropped it from my drives immediately after fiddling with that dreck for a solid hour. Install Game… away!

    • Premium User Badge Andy_Panthro says:

      DRM-free?? Fantastic! Wasn’t keen on the Yu-play thing at all.

      Played the demo of WoP on a friends Xbox (heresy I know), seemed pretty good.

    • Premium User Badge oceanclub says:

      “Wings of Prey / Birds of Prey should get a lot more attention. It might convince other Sim Producers to learn from it’s wise lessons.”

      Hmm, there’s at least one thing that WoP isn’t a good lesson for, and that’s having joysticks compatible out of the box. I tried the demo just now with my Saitek Cyborg Evo to find myself in a tailspin. Checking the forums, it seems you’re expected to manually and laboriously reconfigure all the controls. Jesus, I would at least have the basic throttle/steering working by default.

      P.

    • LionsPhil says:

      >DRM-free
      >on Steam

      These things are mutually exclusive. (Although “on Steam” usually trumps “other people’s DRM” by this point, if only because of the worsening of the latter.)

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      @LionsPhil

      This is not true. Developers are not forced to use Steam’s DRM solution for their games (meaning those games can be played without the Steam application running).

    • utzel says:

      Given the current state of IL2: Cod this again sounds interesting. But I read the news already a few days ago and it seems you still need their additional software. Maybe they just removed the activation limit? I didn’t find a real answer so it would be nice if someone could tell what kind of software/activations/whatever is removed and what is still there. (And if there is a way to get colours?)

  10. Vinraith says:

    A-10′s are fascinating pieces of equipment. I haven’t played a flight sim in a long, long time but I confess I’m tempted just because of the plane they’re modeling in this case. I suppose I’ll see how the post-release support turns out, as I’ll admit that silent hunter is about the extent of my opaqueness tolerance for military sims (I’d love to built that up to a higher level, mind you, but since the trend has been to have less and less time for gaming lately I doubt it’s going to happen soon).

    As always, thanks for keeping us apprised of what’s going on in the grognardier end of gaming Tim, you perform an invaluable service around here.

    • bartleby says:

      I wouldn’t worry about continuing support. That’s one thing the DCS series and Eagle Dynamics are excellent at.

  11. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I Bought it, simply because I am [also] fascinated by the plane, also bought Blackshark, and am buying Flaming cliffs, but I really Really wish they would make an interactive tutorial, it’s like being back in Economics class with the boring lecture(s) – I did fail economics too…

  12. sinelnic says:

    I’m just disappointed by your review Mr Stone. Best regards, Santiago.

  13. danimalkingdom says:

    If I May, I would like to direct everyone back to the Crimson Skies write up from earlier in the week. Can we have more games in the spirit of Lawrence Holland?

    Sims don’t have to be arcadey to be accessible (although Crimson Skies is definitely an arcade flying game). Can everyone just play Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe please and see how it should be done?

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      Dear Lawrence Holland,

      The new Star Wars films have received mixed reviews (although those who think they are great won’t admit there are those who think they’re crap and those who think they’re crap won’t admit there are those who genuinely enjoy them). There is, however, one eternal truth that has sprung from the fountain of the prequels.

      A damned good excuse for a new X-Wing/TIE Fighter game. Call it ARC-170. Call it Clone Wars: All-the-good-guys-have-the-same-voice. Just please consider making a new game in the spirit of TIE Fighter. Even X-Wing: Alliance was genuinely a great game. Imagine what you could do with a title that spans the two trilogies!

      Thank you for reading.

  14. danimalkingdom says:

    Oh and MiG Alley. That was a good ‘un.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      As much as I love the A-10, I’ve learned that my attention span doesn’t work too well with sims of modern aircraft.

      Mig Alley 2 or DCS:F-86 vs Mig-15? I’d preorder that sucker.

  15. neofit says:

    “So I’m quite happy with their current vision, I like games that can be, or are being used in actual training.”
    Nothing wrong with games that can be used in actual training. This article is not about that. This article is about the fact that nobody would ever use such a game to actually teach anyone how to fly.

    Il-2, ELO, Ka-50/DCS, none of these have a proper tutorial. No matter how much you deify the devs and love the genre, don’t even try to call a video with subtitles informing you that he pilot just pressed “G” to raise gears a “tutorial”. From this article it looks like the “tutorial” in A-10 is of the same level of quality.

    Your game is a very realistic flight sim? Set up a very realistic training programme then. Teach me to take off, do a circle and land with an instructor. Make me clock in tens of hours, as if I were a trainee within the game, until it becomes automatic as driving a car. Sorry, but I will not learn to fly and fight in a war scenario.

    I started seriously flying online more than 15 years ago, in Warbirds. Falcon 5 and its 500 pages manual was great. Nowadays I don’t have the time nor the patience to learn to control a new flying machine on my own. If you don’t want to teach me within then I will spend my money elsewhere.

    • danimalkingdom says:

      Indeed

    • bartleby says:

      I’m not sure about this. I agree that, in general, training is underdone and in particular a lot of DCS A-10 could be friendlier to newbies. But should every flight sim be expected to teach the basics of flight?

    • Walsh says:

      The tutorials are much better. They show you what levers to push then you push them while in game, then let you loose to try what you learned.

  16. Count Sessine says:

    Weird, I never had single CTD in this game, even when it was in beta… somewhat disappointing review, I’ll admit.

  17. Squirrelfanatic says:

    That video. Killing people is freakin’ heroic.

  18. Pew says:

    Did that video really need Transformers movie (the wrong kind) music at the end?

  19. Rii says:

    Did anyone catch who was behind that (admittedly well-produced) video?

    • Dozer says:

      It says ‘A GlowingAMRAAM production’ in big letters at the start. GlowingAmraam is his forum username.

    • Rii says:

      LOL. Apparently my comment there was a little too subtle. Let’s try this:

      GlowingAmraam presents a GlowingAmraam production by GlowingAmraam.

    • droid says:

      I like Amraams. They are my favorite missile for air targets. However, I don’t know why they are glowing. Perhaps they are on fire?

    • Dozer says:

      Haha – I was familiar with the video and with GlowingAmraam from the days when i lurked on the Lock-On forums, back in the dim and distant past of 2004ish. My PC couldn’t run Lock-On then either – because it’s the same PC. And I’d seen the first part of that video before. So when I watched it again here, I went to a different tab during the (relatively) boring first minute or two.

      Right, now I’m going to watch the ZeroPunctuation review of Clive Barker’s Clive Barker’s Jericho by Clive Barker.

  20. Megadyptes says:

    The Strike Fighters series of games by ThirdWire fill the gap between arcade flying action game and hard core simulator quite nicely. And there’s plenty of fun cold war jets to fly around in. Fun times.

    • scharmers says:

      Regarding the Third Wire sims: THIS. If there are folks who want to fly the ‘Hog without needing a self-inflicted degree in switchology, the Strike Fighters 2: Europe sim will let you do that. Not the prettiest sims on the block but great for kicking the tires and lighting the fires without descending into Ace Combat mindlessness.

  21. Sobric says:

    Having any luck with il-2 CoD Tim (I’m going to assume you’ve bought it)?

    • danimalkingdom says:

      Wowser, I didn’t realise that was out. Is it any good? There seem to be a dearth of reviews

    • Sobric says:

      hard to recommend at the moment. Very buggy and runs very badly on almost all machines. I’ve only just got it working (over a week after purchasing).

    • sidhellfire says:

      Check out kegetys.net for performance mod. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Is IL-2 CoD only a UK or Russian release right now? Steam says it won’t be out over here (USA) until April 26. The few user reviews I’ve seen on Gamespot etc. are pretty terrible, so I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s not surprising, seeing how Ubi did their best to kill off the Silent Hunter series by releasing the last one (SH5) too early in a terrible state, and then abandoning support. I hope they do better with post-release support on the new IL-2.

      Meanwhile, I guess it’s back to Rise of Flight biplanes for a while. I might eventually pick up A-10, but I’ll need a block of time to devote to it.

  22. DrGonzo says:

    You mean like Arma? That’s much more accessible than this because it has a better tutorial? Admittedly not a great one, but it teaches you the basics in a nice and interactive way.

  23. stahlwerk says:

    Bad article, needs more mortal flatulence.

  24. Ruadhan says:

    I think (and Google confirms) that it’s “while away” an evening, not “wile away”. Unless you’re intentionally punning about the deviousness of your missions…

    • Nick says:

      If a dictionary accepts it and its in common usage, its correct as far as language goes. Not sure what the point of a post like that is anyway.

    • Ruadhan says:

      If a dictionary accepts it and it is in common usage, then my apologies, it is entirely correct. I was under the mistaken impression “while away” was the correct use and t’other was a misspelling :)

      The only point of comments like that are exactly what they look like: to correct typos or grammatical errors. Everybody makes them, but they can cause confusion or make the reader trip up over them. I suppose I could have tweeted at Tim or one of the others about it instead, but I thought a comment was better (and could be deleted more easily once it had been dealt with!). But I’m sorry I did now :)

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      RPS Commenters: Even the grammar Nazis are polite and well spoken.
      :)

      (fwiw I thought it was wyle away. Oops)

  25. bartleby says:

    A little disappointed, in the review…but understandable, I guess. During beta I was having a fair amount of CTDs with XP and decided to chuck it in. Seems to be running pretty well on Windows 7 now, anyway.
    I certainly agree that a lot of the documentation could be less opaque. Learning the CDU by the manual would be a huge pain. Some of the switchology is hard to figure out, especially for someone who’s never used a HOTAS setup before. Coming from Falcon or something, it’s easy to forget how confusing the whole SOI, SPI, DMS, TMS stuff can be.
    That said, there’s a whole bunch of training material out there. Again, it’s probably not fair to ask someone to judge a game based on third-party support material, but it should be said.
    The official forums have a ton of stuff, including a bunch of checklists and reference guides.
    Youtube is full of stuff, notable the producer’s notes and other things from Matt Wagner (Janes alum, too!).
    There’s a wiki for DCS titles that’s a little limited at the moment, but growing.
    And as for the learning curve…yeah. It’s harsh. I was overwhelmed at first, too. Keeping my TMS and DMS straight, not messing up the china hat and the coolie hat, just flying the plane was a hassle. Let alone taking advantage of the avionics or using the “advanced” features (radio? countermeasures? CDU? yeah, right.)
    But it gets better. I’d estimate that an hour or two of focused practice and reference to the switchology is all it took to get to where it’s effortless. Again, is that asking too much of someone? Maybe. But that’s sort of the fun of things.
    To get to the point where you’re flying a multiplayer night mission, handing off targets using the datalinks, marking points with IR beams in NVGs, supporting each other making runs on SAMs and AAA…it’s worth it.
    To sum up: it’s hard. That’s some of the point. But it’s fun. And help is available. We want to help! Ask!

  26. sinister agent says:

    I love how the first image after the cut looks as if there’s a guy in a rocket-propelled chair who’s just taken out a jet, presumably with some kind of high-speed karate chop.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I like the way he’s resting his hands on his knees as if he doesn’t give a shit.

    • sidhellfire says:

      Mike: Ooh my God, oh my god! I’m hit, I’m hit! I’m going down! I’m going to die!
      John: Damnit Mike! Eject and stay frosty! It’s an order!
      Mike: Yes sir! Ejecting! Commencing chill-out! Mike Out.
      John: o_o

  27. Phazon says:

    I haven’t had any issues with DCS A-10C with my 3 year old PC, but I am using Windows 7.

    Its great fun to fly, its nowhere near as hard as what the Kamov 50 Black Shark was. The sim was much more polished on release than other recent sims (*cough* Cliffs of Dover *cough*).

  28. Sunjammer says:

    I bought the shit out of Black Shark. I *bought* that motherfucker. And i booted it up, and i opened the PDF manuals, and i was like FUCK YEAH let’s go up and down like we was gravity. And then I realized it wasn’t a computer game :-(

    I’m a huge fan of WHAT it is, but it’s almost completely impenetrable. It just doesn’t make anything easy to learn. Oh i could certainly fly the thing, but only by “cheating”, turning on assists and skipping the cold start. After skipping all those things, I barely knew what anything did, russian labelling and all. It felt great just flying that machine around, but the training wheels and general confusion absolutely killed any real sense of accomplishment. It was like your dad letting you hold the wheel while he’s driving.

    The huge patch promptly invalidating all the tutorials was such a fantastic joke, i didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Any game that asks you to uninstall an update to watch the training flat out deserves a beating. Eagle Dynamics, you nerds. What were you thinking?

    I love me some A-10. A-10 Cuba! gave me almost endless funtimes. I wish Eagle Dynamics would just hire a team of 3 developers to exclusively work on training modules. How hard can it be to add a graph of switches to pull that steps to the next one once you successfully complete a task, and triggers a voiceover or a bit of text? This shit isn’t hard to do ED. You just have to do it.

    • pepper says:

      I remember playing the original lockon demo, it had a voice-over and all. Then I got the game and lo and behold, gone is the voiceover.

      I did get very good in taking notes that summer though.

    • Jiblet says:

      “How hard can it be to add a graph of switches …”

      Quite hard apparently – but yet they did it anyway for A10. Aren’t you lucky!

      Half of you are bitching on about the lack of interactive training…. when thats exactly what A10 DOES have.
      I Have lock on and black shark and Im shit at both because of the impenetrable training, but A10 is excellent for the training assets, even without all the community driven instruction videos on YouTube.

      Seriously, half of you have NFC what you’re discussing :(

    • Torgen says:

      @Jiblet: He’s talking about Black Shark. You seem to be the one with NFC. (we try not to talk that way around here, incidentally. Welcome to the site.)

  29. Retro says:

    Where from do I get thta MiG Alley t-shirt?

    • Torgen says:

      The heck with the Tshirt, where do I get MiG Alley, playable on Win 7?

  30. Premium User Badge Wisq says:

    My hard drive has never hangared a more thoroughly modelled facsimile of a modern fixed-wing combat aircraft.

    Tim: So am I to take from that statement that DCS: A-10C is more thoroughly modelled than Falcon 4.0?

    Or to be precise, Falcon’s numerous offspring, such as F4AF, OpenFalcon, FreeFalcon, etc. Because I’m currently still playing FreeFalcon 5.5 – when it behaves, similar to your DCS crash problems – and am awed by the mere notion that there may be something even more accurately modelled out there. I was under the impression that this twelve year old relic was essentially the last of its kind.

    Granted, I’m not sure an A-10 game could steal me away from an F-16 game for too long. There’s something to be said for the multirole nature of the F-16 that lets you learn only one set of controls and still find yourself potentially dropping bombs and dogfighting in a single mission – and winning, not just dropping flares and praying.

    That, and Falcon’s dynamic campaign. Simulating an entire war underneath you? Taking part in whole multi-flight packages designed to accomplish a specific goal? You being a small but necessary cog in a larger war machine? Seriously, that was pure genius. I don’t know that I’ll ever be satisfied by canned missions or random scenarios in a flight sim as a result. And I don’t know that anyone has attempted anything similar since, though I would be happy to be proven wrong.

  31. Grayvern says:

    Why is the warthog pilot in one of the first pics ejecting, warthogs have made it back to base like that.

  32. RangerKarl says:

    Just ran into this article from the Eagle Dynamics forums, and I was wondering exactly what sort of setup were you using, Tim? Not implying anything about stick choice, just curious.

  33. scottishmartialarts says:

    I know I’m a bit late to the party with this review, but jeez did the reviewer even play the game? Two points:

    1) The interactive, comprehensive training that the reviewer pines for is in the game. It’s on the Main Menu, under Training.

    2) This sim on full realism isn’t THAT hard to learn. The thing you have to remember is that this aircraft is designed to be flown under the stress of combat and imminent fear for your life. If it truly was complicated and unintuitive to fly, no one would survive their first combat sortie. Instead, given the relative complexity of the tasks you’re asking of the aircraft, it’s relatively simple to accomplish them. Again, the excellent tutorials, which the reviewer seems to have completely missed, go a long way to teaching you the aircraft, and any gaps can be filled by the helpful community and the checklists, videos, and wikis they have built.