The Flare Path: Sherry Is My Avgas

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.

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32 Comments »

  1. Spinoza says:

    The Flare Path !! Yay. Thanks Tim :-)
    White , as in white Christmas ? Perhaps too easy thought ..:-)
    Thanks for making Fridays all past year a day to look forward to.

    • Spinoza says:

      Obv. all i got is Ageod’s Revolution Under Siege -the Volunteer Army and Kuban Cossacks generals.
      No clue about others..

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Oh most definitely.

      Thanks Mr Stone, when the Foxer comes in my Friday afternoon flies by, which is why I cry when there isn’t one.

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  2. cptgone says:

    “identify Sherman variants purely by touch”
    Scania Trucks made a CD with recordings of the engine sound of most of their truck models throughout the years. Aficionados reportedly have no trouble identifying them by ear!
    i cannot find a link, but i did find this recording of 2 V8 versions on their site: http://www3.scania.com/en/V8/SE/The-Sound-Of-The-V8/

  3. sgt. grumbles says:

    Thanks for the SevenG F/A-18 look! As a big Falcon BMS fan, I’m keen to add another in-depth sim to the roster. Hopefully that last 5% goes quickly.

  4. JB says:

    I see the Delta Force (Novalogic?) logo in the top left and the Russian officer tiles are from Revolution Under Siege.

    • JB says:

      Euro Truck Sim 2 in the top right as well, but not coming up with any connections yet. This may be at least partly due to the immense quantity of turkey I’ve recently consumed.

      • Ernesto says:

        Seems a bit far fetched, but maybe the theme is agriculture/food.

        Gulaschkanone is obvious, the trailer of the truck shows an ‘eAcre’ logo (suggesting provender transport?), could the plane be a Rosinenbomber?, ‘Revolution Under Siege’ is about the February Revolution where one of the catalysts was hunger, Is that radial engine a P&W R2800 (Wasp)?
        Can’t connect the rest though…

  5. JB says:

    Also, thanks for another year of FP fun, Tim. Here’s to many more =)

  6. Spinoza says:

    Ok : guy with horses :-) – tamiya “gulashkanone” 1/35

  7. Spinoza says:

    Right low corner :Captain Albert Ball VC

  8. JB says:

    The Delta Force pic seems to be one of the DF: Task Force Dagger cover pics

  9. skink74 says:

    Seasons greetings all!

    The airliner middle right is an Avro Tudor II.

    • skink74 says:

      and that’s the tail of a China Airlines aircraft with a plum blossom on it.

  10. TWChristine says:

    I was actually looking at that Airport Simulator game just the other day while perusing the Steam sale. I was rather interested (I actually enjoy “boring” sims because they usually seem much more interesting compared to my RL job) until I saw that the reviews, which generally pop up with a positive one first, seemed to be all negative. Infact there are only 7 positive reviews, and after 20 negative I stopped clicking on the “Show more” button.

  11. Quiffle says:

    I can’t be the only one eagerly awaiting the dried-out pillbug dlc for for Blowfly 1942!

  12. Eggman says:

    Heads up all flightsimmers: all DCS modules are on sale until around January 2.
    For instance P-51D for 17$. Superbly modeled down to the interaction of internal components of the Merlin engine. Well, anyone interested can find simmer reviews on the net. Many consider it the current gold standard of WWII study sims.

    Note: study sim! No immersive campaign here. This module is for learning to operate the P-51D, and you can dogfight another P-51 or a Fw 190D, or do some ground strafing.

    There’s Ka-50, A-10 etc also for you modern day people.

  13. RobearGWJ says:

    Task Force Dagger symbol is red and white. Tudor rose was white, Lancastrian was red. Denikin’s autobiography was called “White against Red”. Albert Ball – British pilot alleged to have been shot down by the Red Baron (but he was not). Plum blossoms can be red or white. “Goulaschkanone” was a mobile food prep trailer, often painted red (and possibly with white trim). Markov was a White Russian in the Revolution. Krasnow was as well, the leader in fact, but his name derives from the word for red in Russian. Kutepov also was a White Russian fighting the Reds.

    Not sure about the other clues but this definitely implies a “White versus Red” theme.

    • asclark says:

      Father Christmas? Red and white theme and the euro truck simulator a reference to the cola ads.

      • asclark says:

        And like the rosinenbomber he drops food from above. And drinks sherry.

      • MiniMatt says:

        Slightly tenuous but is that a Renault Premium truck? With Renault Trucks company logo having a red background perhaps RobearGWJ’s red/white theme can be crowbarred in?

  14. RobearGWJ says:

    And of course Sherry can be a red color but made with white grapes. :-)

  15. PopeRatzo says:

    My guess is: Vince Lombardi.

  16. azrd79 says:

    Oh wow, always wanted to get into some Combat Mission action but never could buy anything from them, they got my country blocked from their site for ages I could only ever visit via a proxy and never able to register without it bugging out. But lo and behold I just decided to try it one more time after being reminded of it yet again by Tim, and the page opens! I can even register and buy the damn thing. Just got me the 2.0/Commonwealth/Market Garden bundle.

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  18. stele says:

    Forget Airport Simulator. Blowfly 1942 is pure genius!

  19. Thurgret says:

    I usually love the Flare Path’s recommendations to bits. Combat Mission, Achtung Panzer, Command Ops, Scourge of War, to name a few.

    But Flashpoint Campaigns has, so far, been the most wretchedly clunky and dull game I’ve played this year (and I purchased a few bad games this year). I feel like I’m missing something, and I’ve read and reread the manual, and tried it again, and had the same experience – giving largely meaningless orders to a few units (it comes down to moving it to a position then not really getting to move it more than once or twice for the rest of the game, apparently?) and then spending the vast majority of the time watching the game play itself. I played the tutorial and the first mission of the NATO campaign, which was won tidily by sitting mostly still and watching a lacklustre artificial intelligence drive headlong into well-defended positions, repeatedly, until it obliterated enough of its force that it had to surrender, while having no real opportunity for input of my own other than to decide where I wanted to drive my reinforcements to. Is that drastically different from everyone else’s experience? I really do wish I could like it. It’s possible it’s just not my sort of game, but if there’s some key option I need to toggle, or something like that, it would be good to know.

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