The Flare Path: Learns To Stop Worrying And Love BOMB

It has come to my attention that some Flareopaths are not obeying all 1405 tenets of The Flare Path Pledge. I have it on good authority that last Saturday a reader from Leeds watched Battle of Britain from beginning to end without wincing slightly every time an Me 109-impersonating HA-1112-M1L ‘Buchon’ appeared. Incredibly, I’ve also heard of cases where FPs have referred to railway stations as ‘train stations’ and failed to genuflect when Donald Featherstone was mentioned. Most disturbing are the reports that some of our brethren are routinely ignoring Tenet 933. Yes, it seems there are those among us who, on spotting a ‘We need a Crimson Skies sequel!’ forum post, stay silent instead of pointing out that a spiritual sequel already exists.

I’ve been flying that spiritual sequel this week, and talking to La Moustache Studio, the petite French outfit responsible for its rare charm, plentiful thrills, and modest collection of flaws.

BOMB was born in 2007, the spare-time pipe dream of two friends, Jean-Baptiste Griffo, a programmer, and Victor Chevallier, an IT support provider. When the pair found themselves jobless in 2011, development accelerated and stakes were raised.

Victor: “We’ve spent all our time and money on it, made all possible mistakes, twice, removed a lot, added a lot, eventually went crazy and… it’s done. We are 2 full time developers, both doing artistic and technical stuff, and we’ve hired people for character design, aircraft design, music and UI and we’ve been helped by friends. We’d like to continue with more people.”

The result of La Moustache’s plucky punt is a game fizzing with joie de vivre. You play Marcel Gaston, a loveable reprobate with the piloting skills of Porco Rosso, the appetites of Captain Haddock, and the business acumen of a middle-aged PC games critic. Though his personality is communicated entirely through inter-mission text banter with business partners, employers and enemies, Marcel quickly emerges as a one-off, the kind of colourful, wittily scripted antihero that flying games have been deprived of for far too long.

Where Nathan Zachary was all thigh-slapping derring-do and square-jawed Saturday-morning-pictures buckle swashing, BOMB’s star is gruff, reckless, sulky and sometimes comically chauvinistic. Acting as foils to the Gallic grump are a series of equally well-drawn friends and foes. Takeshi, Belle, Souleyman… it would be a tragedy if this was the last time we saw this classy cliché-free cast.

BOMB was to have character dialogues that branched “like in Archimedean Dynasty” but, sadly, like aircraft customisation, that feature proved too time-consuming and was jettisoned enroute. What we get instead is a consistently entertaining 16 chapter linear campaign that spans three large attractive maps, involves two fantasy flyables (both of which have 3D cockpits), and delivers a well-judged mix of dogfighting, ground attack, and anti-shipping action.

If you’ve cruised Crimson Skies, you’ll know roughly what to expect. Plenty of stick waggling and lead spraying, a bit of bomb lofting and rocket slinging, some blimp bothering, the odd canyon run and spot of sly under-the-radar trespass… eventful excursions and atmospheric venues are guaranteed, innovative sortie structures are not. While landings and take-offs occasionally feature, chances are you’ll finish the story mode slightly disappointed more jaunts didn’t start and end on the sky hooks of dawdling dirigibles.

Flight dynamics are rooted in reality but powerful engines and feather-light airframes, means energy conservation and stalls are not major concerns at present. That’s a pity, especially as hostile aircraft and AAA gunners don’t feel particularly threatening. You won’t perish often in the BOMB campaign and when you do, death is as likely to come from an unanticipated cliff face, mountain peak, or passing wingtip, as a stream of cannon rounds.

There are moments in the story when the going threatens to get tougher. The first time you see a beanstalk of SAM smoke on the horizon, or spot the sleek lines of a Calamari over your shoulder, you wonder if the Grim Reaper is about to apply a whetstone to his rather dull scythe. However, the gear shift never happens. I’d love to see the devs take another look at bandit behaviours or maybe start handing out heatseekers to their hostiles. BOMB’s furballs deserve to be as sweaty as they are spectacular.

Of course, if the challenge level was increased, something would need to be done about the lack of autosave checkpoints. Many sorties have several phases and sizeable enemy formations to ravage (usually you’ll need to down all enemies to progress). Fail at any point and you’re forced to start the chapter from scratch.

Outside of the campaign, a skirmish generator and three multiplayer modes (DM, TDM and race) offer no-strings dogfighting opportunities against up to 16 foes. Until AI opponents manoeuvre a little more purposefully and dispense shells with more deftness, I can’t see myself participating in many standalone furballs. MP is more appealing but, at the moment, willing wingmen/victims are thin on the ground.

Though Marcel and chums may return one day “We’d love to develop this universe further, like in an open world, a kind of “Beyond Good and Evil-with-planes” game” La Moustache’s next project won’t have wings. “No more flying for us for at least the next couple of years. Of course we will continue to support and add new content to BOMB (modding tools are coming) but after 3 years on this one, we want to experiment with other genres.”

That desire for change is totally understandable; I just hope Victor and Jean-Baptiste realise how close their first born is to excellence. An AI tweak here, an FM option there, and BOMB will have combat – as well as characters, plot and atmosphere – comparable to the magnificent and sorely-missed Crimson Skies.

BOMB is out now on Steam priced £9.

******************

 

 

The Flare Path Foxer

Last week’s towering intellect belonged to SpiceTheCat. Given a leg up by Matchstick, deejayem, Flying Penguin, Beowulf, BryanTrysers, Rorschach617, Artiforg, foop and FurryLippedSquid, the fearless feline scaled…

a. The Eiffel Tower
b. The Tower of London
c. The Tower of Babel
d. The CN Tower
e. The BREN Tower
f. The Sky Tower
g. The Petronas Towers
h. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

******************

Thanks to the creativity of guest foxer fabricator Mark Judd, Roman hasn’t lifted a finger since Saturday.

Actually that’s not entirely true, on Tuesday my grizzled puzzle producer lifted four fingers and a thumb in a fist-pump of triumph on realising that the components in Mark’s cunningly constructed collage all pointed to a ████████████████ theme.

All answers in one thread, please.

From this site

48 Comments

  1. Matchstick says:

    Guess I get to start the thread:

    Bottom right, map showing the Perito Moreno Glacier, in the Los Glaciares National Park,Santa Cruz , Argentina

    • Matchstick says:

      AFKAMC can’t log in today but has identified the plane top right as an Etrick Taube
      link to richard.ferriere.free.fr

      Tabue is Pigeon in German but combining that with the Swift boot polish to get a theme of Birds seems WAAAAY too easy to be the answer

    • Shiloh says:

      The medal is a WWI Iron Cross (2nd Class).

    • Vurogj says:

      The track circuit is Donington Park, in Leicestershire, England.

    • Matchstick says:

      Motor Racing Circuit is Donnington Park (Grand Prix Circuit layout rather than National Circuit layout)

      PAH Too slow (and I spelt it wrong)

    • Matchstick says:

      Picture of the boot polish tin looks to have come from here
      link to blancoandbull.com

      • Vurogj says:

        Heh, you evened it up with this one, I’m on that exact page in another tab. Well played sir.

    • Shiloh says:

      The theme could possibly be mining. “Meinen” means “mine” in German. So we have iron (cross), mine, Patagonian glacier (Welsh coal miners formed a colony in Patagonia), Donnington (the other one, a mining area near Telford), Mt Dove (“Taube”), (Taylor) Swift’s song “Mine” or Swift’s fabled silver mine…

    • phlebas says:

      Wikipedia has the bottom left picture as “Administration/commercial building, harbor area of Tsingtau, 1912”

      • phlebas says:

        And the ship on the right appears to be the SS Oranje Nassau at Folkestone.

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Finding quite a few references to silver in my research. The link for Swift above tells of 2 Silver awards earned by the firm, Donington Park, on wiki, points out two GP victories by the Silver Arrows team, the Iron Cross is the Teutonic Black Cross on the Silver Cross of Jerusalem, Argentum is silver in latin (Argentina).

    • Shiloh says:

      Then again, could it be beer related?

    • HaraldLille says:

      The bottom right map appears to be this area(link to google.com) near the Argentinean-Chilean border, I dont have a clue as to the main theme.

  2. Rorschach617 says:

    Tentative, is this the life story of Gunther Pluschow?

    Link looks weird, just type the name into wikipedia.

    In short, he explored Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, flew a Taube in Qingdao, was a POW at Donington Hall…

    • Rorschach617 says:

      SS Oranje Nassau at Folkestone? His ferry trip to Holland during his escape from England?

      • Shiloh says:

        A fantastic bit of defoxing if your surmise turns out to be correct…

        • Llewyn says:

          Indeed, very impressive! One thing that puzzles me though (aside from the Swift boot polish, which I assume is just a link waiting to be found) is the foxer intro with the blank spoiler. It’s not like Tim to – or Roman to allow Tim to – introduce a foxer in a cryptic way without it being relevant.

        • Rorschach617 says:

          I want to point out that I identified a grand total of zero clues. If I am correct, it was only luck that I noticed the corellation.

      • Rorschach617 says:

        OK, he explored the Ice Field that feeds the glaciers in photo bottom right, has a glacier named after him somewhere in Patagonia, and was decorated with the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class.

        • phlebas says:

          And in his escape from London he darkened his hair with boot polish!

        • Shiloh says:

          And “meinen” also means think in German. Could be a cunning pointer – “if you’re struggling, ‘think German'”…

        • Rorschach617 says:

          He died in a crash on Brazo Rico (bottom right).

          Having trouble finding anything on the ship though, not finding the right sites.

          • Shiloh says:

            link to warrenpress.net – it even mentions Pluschow.

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Meinen could refer to an escapade at Blackfriars Station. According to “Behind the Wire” by Robert Jackson, he left his overcoat with the cloakroom attendant. When asked for his name, he thought he had been identified and replied “meinen?”. The attendant then registered his coat as belonging to Mr Mine.

            p.s. Nice find, Shiloh. Thats definitely the right photo of the ship.

  3. Rorschach617 says:

    Well, BOMB is on my Steam wishlist now. On the subject of modern iterations of old games, can anyone recommend any games along the lines of Harpoon Classic (so many hours sunk into that game back in ’97) or Steel Panthers 2 (I know about SPWAW, I am looking for something post-war in scale and with a better UI than WINSPMBT).

    • Shiloh says:

      Have you looked at “John Tiller’s Squad Battles” games? Not particularly modern, but devilishly playable.

      PS I used to love SPWAW, put hundreds and hundreds of hours into that one.

      • Rorschach617 says:

        Thanks for the recommendation, downloading demos as we speak :)

    • MartinWisse says:

      Failing a modern SPII game, does anybody have a clue as to get any of the Steel Panthers running on a modern, Win 7 pc?

      • gombicek says:

        They should run well in dosbox. At least Steel Panthers and Steel Panthers 2 were dos games. Or there is link to shrapnelgames.com and link to shrapnelgames.com
        The free versions have less features but are perfectly playable.
        And also there is afformentioned link to matrixgames.com
        The free version doesn’t have mega campaigns but otherwise its identical to payed version.

        • Rorschach617 says:

          SP MBT should work fine on Win 7 (at least it did when last I installed it), but for SPWW2, you may need to download a fix. Apparently the graphics on the engine clash with Explorer, the fix shuts down Explorer while SPWW2 is running.

    • Janichsan says:

      “Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations” seems to be a good modern variant of Harpoon.

    • Ranger33 says:

      For a modern version of Harpoon you are very much in luck. Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations (available at Matrix Games and on Steam) is exactly that and is awesome. It’s extremely well done and gets new updates and new scenarios constantly. It features pretty much every ship and aircraft from WWII to the near future, plus limited ground combat. Only catch is that it is a bit pricey, but will probably be on discount soon if they put it on their Christmas sale.

    • Eggman says:

      IF you like the genre, BOMB is very much worth its ~12$ full price. Impressive game throughout.

      • Shadowcat says:

        It looks great! Nice trailer too. If they release it on GOG, that’s an instant purchase for me.

  4. SlimShanks says:

    Time for a new tenet for Flare Pathers. Tenet 1406: Never call a Bf 109 a Me 109. While it was of course designed by Willy Messerschmitt, and thus normally would have the Me prefix, when it was being designed it was assigned the Bf prefix due to another engineer involved with the project. And they never had any need for a different name.
    Also I like reading Flare Path. Bomb sounds like a really interesting game, although a wee bit lacking in content. I loved the Porco Rosso comparison, that’s a fantastic movie.
    I’m really into flying recently, since I just got one of the few remaining T 16000m’s. There were only 13 left in my country, so yay me. That said, getting used to it coming from the use of an Xbox controller is quite jarring. Has anyone else here found a joystick hard to get used to? It’s probably just muscle memory…

    • timmyvos says:

      That’s not entirely true. It’s the called the BF 109 cause the company Messerschmitt didn’t exist. The original design, by Messerschmitt and Lusser, was done when they worked for Bayerische Flugzeugwerken (Bf or BFW). Eventually the Nazi’s decided it might be a good idea to have a true ideologue running one of their most important factories so they decided to “reconstruct” BFW as Messerschmitt. From that point forward all their designs were prefixed with Me.

    • Tim Stone says:

      SlimShanks, you appear to have forgotten Tenet 1371, subsection (iii): In certain circumstances refering to vehicles, weapons, and equipment by their nicknames or colloquial monikers may be acceptable.

      During the Battle of Britain RAF pilots shot down far more ‘Me 109s’ than ‘Bf 109s’.

  5. cptgone says:

    i have to confess i’ve never been able to watch Battle of Britain without impersonating an Me 109 myself.
    from now on, i’ll impersonate a HA-1112-M1L ‘Buchon’ instead. vrrrroooooommm!

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      The very aircraft from the film ended up being given to one of the stunt pilots as payment, and have recently been sold.
      Interestingly, they were all fitted with Merlin engines for the film.

  6. Dozer says:

    Oh my god, JC, a bomb!

  7. soundoflight says:

    How have I never heard of BOMB? I literally did a double take thinking it was a new Crimson Skies. I don’t care if it has flaws. Insta-purchase.