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15

The Flare Path: Wrecks And Rectification

Simulation & wargame news

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13.55. Spot a ‘there’ where there should be a ‘their’. Hurriedly rectify. 13.56. Discover a ‘their’ where there should be a ‘there’. Hurriedly rectify. 13.57. Notice a ‘there’ where there should be a ‘they’re’. Shake fist at English language. Hurriedly rectify. 13.58. Spy a wan ‘wont’ wantonly wanting an apostrophe. Hurriedly rectify. 13.59. Wander, knot fore the thirst thyme, if I’m cut out for this writing-about-games lark. 14.00. Press ‘PUBLISH’ then sink into armchair while exhaling like a bullet-riddled Beaufighter tyre.

The devilishly clever, daringly Postmodern theme binding together this week’s selection of sim stories? ‘Games What I’ve Been Playing Personally On My Personal Computer’. Since we last sat together in awkward silence, I’ve flown an aeroplane equipped with canoes instead of wheels, I’ve had my ears syringed by a V8 engine so leonine it surely runs on wildebeest blood rather than petrol, and I’ve completely failed to impersonate a flying squirrel.

 

Brandenburg Concerto

Rise of Flight got its first seabird a couple of weeks ago. The bi-winged and bizarrely tailed Brandenburg W.12 won’t truly come into its own until the sim’s Channel map ships, but that hasn’t stopped me putting it through its paces for Flare Path, the Kaiser, and my own personal amusement.

‘Putting it through its paces’ is, of course, aviation parlance for ‘breaking it in every conceivable way’.

Though remarkably easy to set down on the wet stuff, the newcomer’s boat-shaped feet are not the most resilient of appendages. Several of my post-combat landings have ended damply after a slight list rapidly turned into a full-blown women-and-children-first foundering. Annoyingly, no matter how much you shout at the gunner, he stubbornly refuses to either a) clamber out onto the wing to counterbalance a holed float, or b) search out the tin of vari-calibre corks that, surely, every W.12 carried.

Above the Brandenburg’s fragile and ungainly sea-clogs lurks a surprisingly nimble and vicious fighter. Twin forward-facing MG08s, and a back-seat Parabellum MG14/17 unobstructed by a vertical stab (Ingenious Ernst Heinkel inverted the rudder to maximize the field of fire) mean it’s more than capable of mauling most over-confident maulers. If AI gunners were a little more on the ball – a wider RoF issue hopefully fixed by the time the anti-sub and shipping sorties arrive – then the W.12 could be a right little hooligan in the right hands. With its wide undercarriage, fixed radiator and automatic mixture controls, it’s certainly easy to operate.

Attractively sculpted and skinned, I’d like to have seen at least one alternative paint scheme included with the package. A few scenarios might have been nice too. Though historically these machines operated from coastal bases, I’m sure punters would have been willing to accept tales of disoriented lake landings and daring riverine patrols by way of an interim offering.

 

Make Room For RaceRoom?

Are you aware that, in addition to building a GTR2 sequel, veteran Swedish wheelwrights SimBin are also busy bolting together a free (but DLC awash) Steam-supported race sim? A one-car, one-track teaser edition of RaceRoom Racing Experience is currently looking at its watch and checking its reflection in the behind-the-bar mirror here. Having waltzed in, kissed it awkwardly on the nostril, then spent a rather pleasant first evening with it, I can report that it is…

  • FRIENDLY

Wheel and pedal configuration was a breeze, my first laps of the swoopy, fictional ‘Raceway’ circuit almost prang-free thanks to a colour-coded racing line, generous tarmac run-off areas, and prominent corner signage.

  • CURRENTLY EQUIPPED FOR TIME-TRIALS ONLY

…though the finished sim will offer full multiplayer plus SP racing against AI drivers skill-adjusted to suit your PBs.

  • MARVELLOUSLY MELLIFLUOUS

In full voice, the Aquila’s awesome V8 will vibrate organs and wobble bodily protuberances you didn’t know you had. Seriously, it’s worth downloading the teaser just to listen to the throttle music.

  • UNMISTAKEABLY SIMBIN

If you’ve spent time with GTR2 or one of the swarm of RACE titles and add-ons, RaceRoom is going to feel and, possibly, look rather familiar. Maybe it’s the years of waiting, but I had hoped the studio’s next-gen engine would sock me a little harder with the Beauty Cosh. Perhaps it’s just the circuit and light conditions. Other glimpses suggest ample prettiness.

  • MISSING ALL THE USUAL CAR CONFIGURATION OPTIONS

They’ll come later, along with the ability to turn off all driving aids.

  • CHALLENGING

I refuse to tell you where I sit on the (thankfully unavailable at present) leaderboard.

  • PROMISING

For those that don’t have the time, money, or skill a title like iRacing demands, but nonetheless want a robust, realism-heavy MP-capable sim that doesn’t look like the back of bus, then RaceRoom has to be one to watch.*

*along with rFactor 2, Assetto Corsa, and GTR3, obviously.

 

Downcast

Wonderfully fresh/bracing wingsuit sim Volo Airsport has a free alpha! Unfortunately, if, like me, you were hoping to play it with a flight stick or keyboard you may end up more bruised and frustrated than enthused and elated.

After an hour of configuration experimentation, I’m still plummeting like a lump of blue ice rather than swooping and stooping like a Peregrine Falcon.

The maddening thing is, vids like the one below suggest Volo is a shoo-in for this year’s most exciting flight sim. The subtle control options (As well as traditional roll, pitch, and yaw influence, you can also move individual limbs, altering your shape to adjust speed and perform tricks)… the ludicrous velocities and preposterous proximity to traditional aviator foes like hills, trees and (fingers-crossed for the final release) power-lines… I’ve been flight simming for thirty years, and only one title prior to this one (a title that didn’t have quite the dynamism or drama that Volo seems to possess) has ever let me dispense with those dreadfully gauche exoskeletons of wood, canvas, and aluminium.

Martijn, any chance of a friendlier and more flexible configuration interface in the next build?

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