Posts Tagged ‘The Flare Path’

The Flare Path: PIAT fails and PITA whales

Three of the first four Close Combat games are now back in legal circulation thanks to GOG.com and current licence holders, Slitherine. For years I’ve been telling myself that prolonged exposure to Combat Mission and Graviteam Tactics would make a long-term relationship with Atomic’s top-down tussle series – a series I loved dearly in the late Nineties – difficult today. I now realise I was wrong. Twenty years on Close Combats 2 (aka Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far) and 3 still entertain as consummately as any of the tactics titles that followed them. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Rubber & Blubber

This column covers realistic car games with the same boundless energy and fierce incisiveness with which it covers flight sim hardware developments and human rights abuses in Central Asia. The reasons for this are too complicated to fully explain in an intro (In short: tiny desk, gypsy curse, Princess Diana). All you really need to know is that from time to time an opportune alignment of Mars and Snickers, combined with a Super Bowl upset and a special offer on elbow grease at Boots, produce conditions ideal for some guilt-assuaging arse covering. Covering my arse today are iRacing’s Kevin Bobbitt, Kunos Simulazioni’s Marco Massarutto, Studio 397’s Tim Wheatley, and Forward Development’s Eugene Gubanov. After their studio status reports, more Thar She Blows!, a blood-drenched Nantucket AAR in which doomed FP readers pull oars and hurl harpoons. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Thar She Blows!

Half Moby Dick, half Sunless Sea, Nantucket sweats Nineteenth Century nautical drama the way the Charles W. Morgan to this very day sweats Nineteenth Century whale oil. Picaresque’s failure to recreate whaling’s most telling/pathetic scenes (The hopeless marguerite… the confused calf following the whaleship that slaughtered its mother…) worries me, but not sufficiently to cause a rift. I’m in for the long haul. Unlike some of the Flare Path readers who, last Friday, volunteered to crew my ‘new’ barque. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Jets, Jungle, and Jack Yards

DCS World, a combat flight sim made from a superhard composite of Truthite and RTFM, is a few days* away from an engine upgrade that will unify like a drill sergeant and spruce like a Scandinavian forest. Earlier this week I took a break from foliage-shredding in Combat Actions: Vietnam (Assessed below) and whale-worrying in Nantucket (Want to join my crew? Read on) to quiz producer Matt Wagner about the sea change that is ‘2.5’.

* “The 2.5 Open Beta will release on 31 January and the “stable” version a week later.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Catch of the Day

Not an easy week to be a wargame and simulation correspondent. If I bite my lip and try really hard I think I’ll be able to rattle off today’s column without mentioning the lovely DUSK, but I know I won’t be able to get through without acknowledging that cetacean in the room, Nantucket. Released yesterday, Picaresque’s piquant and pacy whaling RPG is far too close to that Age of Sail game we’ve been discussing for years to pass unhailed. I hope it hasn’t arrived too late to influence HMS, Every Single Soldier’s cutaway captaincy title. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: How’s it going?

Operation Pump Handle went rather well, all things considered. Of the ten peanut-powered mechanical magpies dispatched on Monday morning, nine returned home with sim developer status reports in their leg canisters. Only Domino (destination Deadstick) is still out there somewhere. If you live in the Guildford area and have recently had a smoke or spark emitting Pica pica visit your bird table, please let me know. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: How’s it going?

The Flare Path doesn’t do ‘amiable’ or ‘throwaway’. When I ask a developer  ‘How’s it going?’ I’m not being friendly. I’m fishing for cold, hard facts. I want to know if 2017 was an annus mirabilis or an anus hemorrhoidis…  why ‘Experienced AI Programmer’ has recently appeared in their site’s Situations Vacant section… what ‘Soon’ next to ‘Release Date’ really means. In today’s column, the people behind some of the work-in-progress wargames I’m most excited about, proffer spin-free progress reports. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Walking in a Winter Wonderland

I was all set to brand Medved-Taiga, the latest expansion for theHunter: Call of the Wild, “the perfect Yuletide mood generator”. Its stunning snow-mantled wilderness was putting me in a seasonal frame of mind almost as effectively as my usual aids –  The Greatest Christmas Movie of all Time and lashings of cream sherry – up until the point last night when I encountered the ‘Euthanize the Wounded Reindeer’ mission. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Regrets Everything

The sound of another year deploying its speedbrakes, dropping its flaps, and lowering its landing gear is the cue for me to switch into Regret Mode. Depressingly, my ‘List of Things That I Wish I’d Done More of in 2017’ is almost identical to my ‘List of Things That I Wish I’d Done More of in 2016’. The top four positions are still occupied by ‘Reading’, ‘Writing’, ‘Exercise’, and ‘Accordion Practice’. ‘Playing OMSI 2’ is still stubbornly clinging to slot #21.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Greek Ire

Field of Glory II: Immortal Fire burst into flames on Tuesday and today’s column is crowded with Greek warriors. The pictures above explain, as effectively as any string of letterclots, why these two facts aren’t connected. On the left is RIOT, a handsome crowd control wargame partially undone by its eye-catching aesthetic, and on the right is Trireme Commander, a history-steeped Iron Age naval sim with frustrating martinet tendencies. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Claas War

For the past decade GIANTS Software has had the farming sim sector pretty much to itself. None of the competing agri offerings that have arrived in the years since FS2008 first lowered a plough and spreadeagled a sprayer have succeeded in loosening the Swiss stranglehold. Might Cattle and Crops have what it takes? Now approximately a month away from a Steam Early Access release, C&C’s not-so-secret weapons are physics, mud, and weather. Developer Masterbrain Bytes want to remind us why tractors are such stocky fellows and why they wear such big boots. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Defects

The dystopia at the heart of singular RPG Way of Defector is a truly grim place. It’s a country where you can be imprisoned or killed for criticising the government or for being related to someone who has criticised the government. A land where the state routinely uses detention without trial, torture, and sexual violence against the people, and many go to bed hungry every night. Developers Dev Arc call this repressive totalitarian hellhole ‘North Korea’. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Emotionally Authentic

Because Luke Hughes has a master’s degree in neurophysiology and psychology from Oxford, and uses terms like “emotional authenticity” when talking about his upcoming “leadership RPG” Burden of Command, I reached for my little tin of Big Questions when preparing today’s interview. Amongst the sensitive subjects discussed below: the glorification of war through video games, swearing on virtual battlefields, and why players of XCOM resemble seagulls. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Never Mind the Rollocks

Judging by the empty packet of Ennuiz on the table and the way you keep sighing into your Guinness I’m guessing you haven’t heard about Deadstick yet. You’re not aware that a small team based in England’s coding capital is busy crafting a realism-rich gun-free flight sim with something extremely unusual at its core. Logistics. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Czechs and Choppers

Real-life boss fights rarely resemble video game ones.

At 10.30 on the morning of May 27, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, one of Hitler’s most trusted and ardently anti-Semitic lieutenants, was being chauffeured to work through the streets of Prague when a man armed with a Sten submachine gun stepped out in front of his Mercedes convertible as it slowed to negotiate a sharp bend. The cheap SMG refused to fire but shrapnel from an anti-tank grenade thrown by the Sten wielder’s companion pierced the Acting Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia in several places causing wounds that led to his death a week later. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Persian Potpourri

When is a bad game not a bad game? When it inadvertently nudges you towards a good game. I began this week playing a very weak HAWXlike coded in Tehran and, via some connected Wikipedia delving and Steam sifting, ended it playing a powerful adventure game set during the Iranian Revolution.

Squadron: Sky Guardians’ flight model resembles actual flight in the same way a vaulting horse resembles an actual horse. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Hillocks and Pillocks

Subtle slope textures and a lack of unit bases and battle replays make Field of Glory II a tricky wargame to After Action Report. I can’t promise that today’s aggro account will be easy to follow, but I’ll be mortified if it baffles and bores. The fabulous FoGII is to tedium what Domestos, the Greek god of sanitaryware, is to all known germs. Any wargame correspondent that suggests otherwise deserves to be thrown to the lions. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Dotted Lines

No simulated war this week. In memory of my great-grandfather who died a hundred years ago last Monday, this is a Flare Path free of faux conflict.

Private Thomas Bourlet was one of around 500 men of 2nd Battalion, the Lancashire Fusiliers, tasked with taking three objectives north of the Belgian village of Poelcappelle on the morning of October 9th, 1917. The attack began in pre-dawn gloom. At 05.20, to a deafening accompaniment of Allied artillery, 2nd Battalion left the relative safety of their trenches near Imbros House and began picking their way north-eastward through a cratered hellscape glutinous after days of heavy rain. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Serried Ranks and Buried Tanks

If ever a game demanded a ‘II’ rather than a ‘2’ at the end of its name it’s the fast-approaching Field of Glory sequel. Packed with legionaries, triarii, hastati, and velites, FoGII takes the engine last seen in Sengoku Jidai and Pike and Shot – an engine Flare Path rates highly – rethinks campaigns, removes gunpowder, and adds a sprinkling of chariots, jumbos, camels and ballistae. What could possibly go wrong?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Ultimate Realism

There are various ways to make a war game realistic. Battlefront do it with blue-chip ballistics and subtle spotting mechanics, Panther Games with plausible AI and plenty of command friction, Eagle Dynamics with sophisticated flight models and painstakingly reproduced avionics. We Are Muesli built Venti Mesi with the help of real Milanese memories and the free WW2 ‘narrative docu-game’ is incredibly powerful as a result. Read the rest of this entry »