The Flare Path: Bombs

By Tim Stone on February 21st, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

“Another helping of Enigma machine gibberish from Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s resident sim gimp.” The Coventry Herald

“As usual, Stone switches subjects with the gracefulness of a derailing freight train.” The Aldershot Bugle

“The last time I saw that many commas that close together, I was visiting the National Museum of Printing.” Caravanning Today

“After reading this week’s pieces on IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad and BOMB, the fatwā calls suddenly made a lot more sense.” Contemporary Crochetist

According to the double digits chalked in the corner of its title screen, IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad is now 39% complete. Happily for early accessers, that figure doesn’t translate into hangars full of half-finished fuselages and unskinned wings. Those that splashed-out on the Premium Edition ($95) or the not-currently-available Standard Edition ($60) are presently spending their weekends (soon, mandatory RoF-style servers should be switched on seven days a week) flying three airworthy aerodynes, with a fourth – the Stuka – apparently not far away.

The Bf-109, IL-2, and LaGG-3 still require work (in cockpits a fair-few gauges and switches are still to be connected, some engine management options await full implementation) but ask them to dogfight, beat-up an airfield, or harass a tank convoy and, in the hands of a half-decent pilot, they perform admirably.

Being only a quarter-decent pilot, I’ve left impressive quantities of mangled aluminium in my wake while getting to know the splendidly lively flight models and jowl-wobbling ground handling. In my hamfisted paws early on every aircraft seemed to have the spinal robustness of a Fw 200 Condor, every propeller the torque of an ocean liner screw. Now, thankfully, accidents are a tad rarer, and I’m starting to feel relaxed enough to enjoy the paint-blistering exhaust pyrotechnics, sparkling snowscapes, and atmospheric night sorties.

With customisable loadouts and 13 missions available for each aircraft type, there’s plenty of opportunity for experimentation. An hour or two spent grappling with the historical inadequacies of the LaGG-3 or slinging rockets at sharp-eyed flak batteries generates quite different hand-eye challenges from an hour spent swatting Bf-109s from the chilly back-seat of a Sturmovik, or perfecting crosswind landing techniques at Lapino. Of course, when multiplayer and the unscripted campaign engine arrives, the sim will truly blossom.

The titular city arrived about a month ago, and will – touch wood – receive a bit more attention before that dev progress total hits 100%. Persuasive enough at distance, low down it lacks the detail and dynamism some optimistic tile-rattlers may expect.

In most other respects IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad already instils confidence. On the basis of this constantly evolving early access build, the second Sturmovik sequel would seem to be in far safer hands than the first.

 

Crimson Sky Squab

Having spent over a decade waiting for a Crimson Skies sequel and at least one whole weekend actively planning one I’m not sure whether to feel elated, cheated, or chelated by BOMB.

A cheap and cheery fantasy flight sim from a French outfit that believes (rightly) that La Moustache Studio is a fine name for a developer, and (wrongly) that capitalising every letter in a title is sometimes justified, this £7.75 surprise wears its inspiration as proudly as a kamikaze pilot wears his hachimaki.

Within an hour of commencing the (currently) six-chapter campaign I’d furballed with bizarre biplanes over palm-fringed island beaches, bandied words with a piratical aviatrix, and accepted work from a shady casino owner. Though all of the dialogue was delivered via text and some of that text wasn’t brilliantly translated, BOMB’s story and characterisation captures the pulpy jocularity of Crimson Skies rather well.

The flying isn’t bad either. With 3D cockpits, passable physics and some very fetching vistas (the jungle rendering is particularly effective) the fact that a failed sortie means a restarted sortie (there appear to be no mid-mission saves or autosave checkpoints) seems relatively unimportant. I’d love to choose my own jobs/allies, design my own craft, and grapple with a more sophisticated damage model, but given the modest entrance fee, and the presence of skirmish and multiplayer modes, the simplicity is easy to overlook.

Because I’m still struggling with a jaunt involving both dogfighting and freighter torpedoing, I can’t tell you whether BOMB’s initial story segment includes any dirigible molesting. La Moustache are staggering the release. Next Monday we get missions 1-6, plus 4 flyables, 2 maps, singleplayer skirmish and deathmatch MP. In March and April respectively, buyers will receive additional 5-sortie campaign chunks plus more flyables and MP modes. By June, mod tools, documentation, and Mac and Linux versions should be with us. Come Summer the game may be available through stores other than Desura.

I can’t see myself abandoning hard-drinking wino hero Marcel ‘La Moustache’ Gaston before his story’s done. He’s no Nathan Zachary but in a genre generally peopled by wraiths and cardboard patriots, we must be thankful for small mercis.

 

The Flare Path Foxer

Of all the Noah knowers I know, I know none more knowing than phlebas, skink74, robinsparks, Samolety, Matchstick, Palindrome and Shiloh. Last week’s collage theme emerged after these deft diluvian detectives demystified a…

A. Republic XF-12 Rainbow
B. Pot of Humbrol ‘light olive’ paint
C. V/Line rail map (Ararat station)
D. Churchill ARK
E. SA-13 Gopher (gopher wood)
F. Etrich Taube
G. Toyota Noah
H. Unity of Command screenshot (2×2 Games)
I. Pak 40 (40 days and nights of rain)

The FP lav (and the FP LAV, now I come to think about it) is wallpapered with Foxeroll™. There are unique 30x20cm picture puzzles wherever you look. The collage below is usually obscured by a stack of What Half-Track? magazines and a decommissioned Geballte Ladung (which serves as a spare loo roll holder, natch) so even if you’ve used the room in question, you probably won’t have noticed it before.

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51 Comments »

  1. TheIronSky says:

    Eh, only thing I see this week is that little Doorkickers screenshot snuck in there.

    • phlebas says:

      Solomon Islands Embassy level, I think?

      • Stugle says:

        Is the seal on the floor made-up, or could it tie in to the royalty theme?

        • phlebas says:

          National arms of the Solomon Islands. Crocodile on the left, shark on the right, “To lead is to serve”.

  2. tanith says:

    Can it be true? A game following in the footsteps of Crimson Skies?
    It is not the first time we were promised such a thing and each and every time I was disappointed but this one actually has a single player campaign and, from what I can see, none of the silly gimmicks.

    Oh how I wish we’d get a new Crimson Skies. Unfortunatley there is no demo but for 10 € I might bite…

    • TheIronSky says:

      I’d love to see Microsoft do something with the IP, but lately they seem more interested in shoveling out more crappy exclusives and torturing Rare employees than producing anything worthwhile.

      But I must agree — Something with the accessibility of Ace Combat put into a nifty dieselpunk or 1930s Americana-inspired world would be great. I’m actually considering logging back into Desura.

      • InnerPartisan says:

        I’d argue that the Porco Rosso-licence would make for an absolutely fabulous Crimson Skies-like game.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I was surprised to see Track-IR support, so that might tip me over the edge into buying it, once the full game is released. The gun sounds are weak, but maybe they’ll improve that.

  3. J Arcane says:

    Aww man. That opening pic made me hopeful some kind of Russian Front themed Ace Patrol sequel was on the way.

    I’m just now finally mastering Pacific Skies and a new fix would be most welcome.

  4. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Insignia is the Black Cat squadron, Chinese air force.

    • All is Well says:

      To me the middle aircraft looks like a Bristol Buckingham (sans dorsal turret) or Buckmaster. Can anyone confirm?

      • Joshua says:

        Bristol buckmaster looks suprisingly much like it, I think that is the one. The diagram I googled does not come with the radio wires though, but the buckingham does have a rear turret.
        Considering that the buckingham diagram googled is almost spot on, I assume it’s that diagram, edited by Tim Stone to look like the buckmaster.

      • AbyssUK says:

        Looks like the Buckingham to me too (wikipedia says the C1 type came) with no guns

        Also http://www.aviastar.org/air/england/bristol_buckingham.php

      • All is Well says:

        Also, the flying boat in the lower left corner seems to be a Short Solent.

        • Surlywombat says:

          Might be a Short Sandringham? That would fit the royalty theme.

          • All is Well says:

            Good point, as they do look very similar, and Sandringham seems to be an estate owned by the Royal Family – nice connection there. I’m still a bit unsure though, since the Short Sandringham seems to have only two struts connecting the pontoon to the wing (in the pictures I’ve looked at), whereas the one in the image has four, like the Solent, but maybe the Sandringhams came with four as well.

          • FurryLippedSquid says:

            I wanted to believe that and looked at it hard. The panels on the Solent are a perfect match, though.

      • Zephro says:

        If that is a Buckingham and the tank is a Black Prince, the Earl of Buckingham was the youngest and the Black Prince the eldest sons of Edward III.

    • Joshua says:

      Taiwanese airforce. Or nationalist china or chinese republic.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Three-wheeler is a Reliant Regal.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Boat looks a lot like a US Railroad Tug, no idea which one though!

      • Stugle says:

        For what it’s worth, the symbol on the smoke stack looks a lot like the astrological symbol for Mercury.

  5. Caerphoto says:

    “…in the hands of a half-decent pilot”

    I dunno, getting that close to the ground, upside down and with both wings missing would appear to require quite a bit of skill.

    • Llewyn says:

      I can’t agree; upside-down and with both wings missing, getting that close to the ground would require no skill whatsoever. Not getting any closer, however, would be a formidable challenge.

    • Gap Gen says:

      One of my favourite things about War Thunder is being crippled by a dogfight and trying to limp back to the airfield without falling out of the sky, particularly when my engine is dead and I’m gliding with no elevator or flaps.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Rise of Flight’s damage modeling is great for that limping home experience, so I expect it to be good in this new one too. .

  6. phelix says:

    I see a (I think) Tomahawk cruise missile, and one of those Reliant three-wheeler thingies.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Not sure about the Tomahawk, intake doesn’t look right.

  7. jkz says:

    IL-2:BoS is looking rather splendid.

  8. Stugle says:

    I know there was a Churchill tank in last week’s Foxer, but is that another one in the top right? Rear view, turret reversed?

    • Thurgret says:

      The chassis certainly looks right for a Churchill IV, but there’s something weird going on with the turret and gun – the only thing that looks right about the gun is the calibre.

      • Zephro says:

        Might it be the Black Prince prototype? The turret and gun look more like that, ie a high velocity variant.

      • Stugle says:

        Could you do a search for “A43 Infantry tank Black Prince” – it’s a Churchill variant and the turret looks – to my untrained eyes – a possible match. Thanks!

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        So there’s kind of a royalty theme with Buckingham, Regal, and Black Prince (Edward of Woodstock)…

        • Joshua says:

          Apperently, Solent is a strait which houses a harbour where the Royal Navy is reviewed by the Monarch.

          As mentioned earlier – the Doorkickers photograph is apperently from the Solomon Islands embessy, further indicating a kingly link.

        • Stugle says:

          The Mary Rose (flagship of Henry VIII’s navy) sank in the Solent and according to Wikipedia (ever-reliable dispenser of knowledge), King Charles I had a black cat that died the day before he was arrested. This might be stretching the royalty theme beyond reason. :)

          • Joshua says:

            Indeed. Very good catch.

            Further digging to the links indicates that the Solomon Islands were home to another squadron named the “Black Sheep”, further chiming in the heavy emphasis of Black in this whole thing. Furhtermore, “Regal” is also an indication of colour, mainly dark shades and black (And gold).

          • phlebas says:

            And Solomon was a king.

      • Thurgret says:

        Looks like a Black Prince, indeed. Good catch. Also, good grief, the gun’s a QF 17 pounder. I guess that says something about the size of the rest of the tank.

  9. P.Funk says:

    Tailspin. Thats all I’m gonna say.

    • CannedLizard says:

      It does look like it borrows a little from it, only with people instead of Jungle Book characters. Speaking of which, what kind of pitch meeting led to Tailspin? “Okay…so we take the cast of Jungle Book. Following so far? Okay, we take them an put them in a world of air piracy and seaplane shipping. What do you mean ‘non sequiter’?”

  10. Smion says:

    Oh man, that Crimson Skies article just reminded me how disappointing Dark Void turned out to be. (Not necessarily bad, just never even beginning to realize its full potential.)

  11. CannedLizard says:

    It’s been awhile since I fell in love-at-first-sight with a video game. But that first screenshot of BOMB literally made my heart leap.

  12. Stugle says:

    Augh! That biplane (and that tugboat, and that train) are driving me bonkers! Closest thing I’ve found so far for that biplane would be a Vickers Vulcan, but the landing gear struts are definitely wrong. Anyone else have a better idea?

  13. Carnivrspigbat says:

    Well, the middle twin-engine aircraft in the middle is a Buckmaster, and the flying boat is a Short Solent, possibly.
    Is the tank a Black Prince? Lastly, I’m not sure about the missile – looks like a generic tomahawk but with an entire turbine on the bottom. . .