By Tim Stone on December 27th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.
True Christmas contentment impossible while stray sim and wargame news stories still at large STOP Briefly leaving family/fireside to recommend Flashpoint Campaigns Red Storm and Global Air Traffic Control demos and share Combat Mission and SevenG vids STOP Intend to name and shame years worst sim too STOP Seriously if you are thinking about buying Airport Simulator 2014 in the Steam sale STOP this instant STOP in the name of love STOP
You know that dead fly you’ve been sharing a room with for the last few months? The one perched like a tiny burnt-out Gloster Gladiator on your windowsill. Retrieve it. Transport it to your desk. Now print or draw a top-down representation of an aircraft carrier, place the fly cadaver a foot or so away from the vessel, and spend the evening attempting to ‘land’ (by blowing) the deceased insect on the depicted CV.
Congratulations! You’ve just created and enjoyed BlowFly 1942, a game at least three times better than Airport Simulator 2014.
Described by its makers, UIG, as a “professional and economic airport simulation” filled with “constant change and new challenges” and by me as “Either a calculated insult or a wonderfully bold practical joke” AS2014 revolves around driving GSE to and from parked airliners.
Those mobile staircases, catering trucks with elevating bodies, miniature baggage tractors you eye while surreptitiously assessing your travelling companions…
£12 £6 buys you the right to operate all of them! And by ‘operate’ I mean, of course, hover 50ft above them, prodding the WASD keys while yawning and wondering if dental floss arrestor cables and parked flies would improve or over-complicate BlowFly 1942.
None of the vehicles have cab views or damage models. None of them have any controls beyond steering wheels, brakes and accelerators. To complete a phase in the turgid turnaround process, it’s enough to park a machine on its destination spot (alignment unimportant) and wait for a timer to tick down. Clipped that Trent 500 with your fuel bowser? Clouted that fuselage with your air stairs? You’ll have to imagine the flames and fury because AS2014 is to drama what Oliver Cromwell was to pornographic woodcuts.
Service enough planes and eventually you have enough cash to hire AI ‘helpers’ to man your machines. In an ironic flourish that surely can’t be completely accidental, the reward for playing this abomination, is not having to play this abomination. Oil Platform Simulator remains Simulatia’s King of Cack, but Airport Simulator 2014 proves there are devs out there with the vision, determination and giant brass balls necessary to steal its crown.
Elzevir Hardacre, the person that dreamt up Matrix Games’ dubious ‘no demos’ policy, was slain by a walrus in 1904. Since then, out of respect, company bosses have grudgingly maintained the position (and refused to include Supermarine Walruses in any of their games). Secretly though, they’d love to trial all their lovely warfare fare. How else can you explain the stealthy release of a definitely-not-a-demo for Flare Path’s favourite wargame of 2013. Lurking at Grogheads.com for at least the next fortnight is a standalone Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm mission. Even if you don’t have the command skills necessary to secure prizes in the connected competition, time spent shepherding M1A1s, Bradleys, and Apaches in late-Eighties Northern Germany should prove instructive and – once you’ve got your head round ingenious idiosyncrasies like dynamic turn durations – highly entertaining too.
Global Air Traffic Control, the sky tidying sim I tried in November is now in the hands of bedroom tin pushers everywhere. Anyone wishing to investigate before investing €30, can inspect the manual and attempt to manage Munich’s airspace for a couple of hours courtesy of a delightfully minuscule (One twentieth of a Peggle!) demo.
Combat Mission will soon be back amongst the trampled sunflowers and splintered birch trees. Before leaving for their traditional twenty-minute festive break, the folk responsible for the landmark that was CM: Barbarossa to Berlin (2002) shared some details of its sequel.
Larger maps, automatic ammo sharing between vehicles, tank riders, AA guns trained on clouds as well as copses… as attached as I am to Graviteam Tactics’ depiction of Eastern Front combat (Fingers-crossed, Mius Front will be with us by the time of the Spring rasputista) the prospect of returning to God’s Own Tank Country in the company of BF Tigers and T-34s is a mouth-watering one.
Jet Thunder vanished in a fleece of sea fog soon after Flare Path pointed excitedly in its general direction. Touch wood the same won’t happen to publicity-shy F/A-18 sim Seven-G. Rumoured to be dead on several occasions, this standalone Falcon 4.0-style study sim finally seems to be turning onto its developmental base leg. The website progress percentage is currently showing a tantalising 95% and the latest glimpse suggests the cockpit and weaponry are well on the way to completion. Whether Seven-G’s Hornet will arrive before DCS World’s interpretation (or indeed, DCS World’s third-party Super Hornet) is anybody’s guess, but if you enjoying landing military aircraft on small floating airstrips, then its possible, just possible, that BlowFly 1942 may not be your sim of choice this time next year.
The Flare Path Foxer
For serious defoxers like phlebas, protorp, JustAPigeon, Zephro, skink74, richtysoe and Gaytard Fondue (who collectively vanquished the ‘publishers’ foxer) the Chrismas period is no different from any other time of the year. The long library sessions, the nude route marches, the badger wrestling… it’s business as usual. The person or persons that identify the secret theme of this week’s collage (previous themes have included Robin Hood, witchcraft, and the Nativity) probably spent Wednesday strangling herons or learning how to identify Sherman variants purely by touch.