Nice try Shambler Soft. No doubt you thought naming your new Boer War wargame 'Aasvogels Overhead' would guarantee you the top spot in this week's alphabetised news round-up. You hadn't banked on Happy Hermit christening their new F-111 flight sim 'Aardvark Attack' yesterday morning.
A is for Assault on Arnhem aggravations
Is Assault on Arnhem exactly the kind of bijou battle sim I was yearning for when I penned this paean to cheap short-form wargames back in 2013? Not sure. Whenever I try to play, the camera drifts relentlessly northwestward as if snagged on the tail of a homeward-bound Dakota. :(
(Yes, I have tried unplugging my flightstick and gamepad)
B is for Battle of Moscow is nigh
With maps and campaigns ready for beta-testing and the last of the new planes, a Ju 88, almost in the hands of pre-purchasers, IL-2: Battle of Moscow feels tantalisingly close.
C is for classy Close Combat cartography
D is for doubtful Dovetail initiative
Not content with occupying most of the slots on Steam's 'new releases' list each month, Dovetail have come up with a nifty strategy for securing the remainder. It appears they're planning to release several themed standalone train sims based on previously issued bits of TS2016 DLC. The first product of this potentially confusing initiative is the £15 Sherman Hill-utilizing ATS-coattail-riding American Powerhaul Train Simulator.
E is for Entente Cordiale
Some genuinely good news from Dovetail is the recently announced SNCF licensing deal. With Just Trains also working on Gallic routes and rolling stock, it looks like 2016 is going to be a magnifique year for lovers of bullet-quick EMUs and blurred countryside.
G is for Go For Launch: Mercury
…a promising demo-blessed Alan Shepard sim seeking funding through Kickstarter at the moment.
H is for Heliborne
Sorry, I've been meaning to share impressions of this early access multiplayer air combat game for several months. The hours I've spent with it so far have been very pleasant ones – the disadvantages of the currently rather limited map/mode selection more than offset by friendly-but-evocative physics, pretty venues, and pleasing play patterns. Alighting in a wreckage-strewn village then watching as your AI-controlled passengers disembark and scamper for trenches – lovely. Luring a foe into range of the Stinger toter you deviously deposited in a clearing a few minutes earlier – delightful. Keep up the good work, JetCat.
I is for I won't be returning to Volo Airsport until Ramjet Anvil add speed flying
J is for Juha, K is for Kellokoski
The Finn responsible for the not-Flare-Pathed-for-a-few-years Armored Brigade hopes the payware version of his unusually ergonomic top-down* battle sim will be on sale early in 2017 (publisher TBC). Featuring a more capable engine, a larger Fulda Gap map, an expanded 1980-1991 unit database, and a branching campaign system, the coming iteration should appeal to anyone partial to a bit of Close Combat, Combat Mission, or Graviteam Tactics.
L is for last week's foxer
M is for Mius-Front
Two weeks on from this preliminary assessment, my opinion of Graviteam's latest dual-layer Eastern front wargame remains essentially unchanged. Though I'm still confused by some of the subtleties and unconvinced by some of the interface 'improvements', I'm not sure where else in the genre I'd go to find battles as memorable, atmosphere as pungent, and campaigns as naturalistic.
N is for nautical novelty
Once Every Single Soldier and chums RetroEpic have put Vietnam '65 sequel Afghanistan '11 to bed, it looks like they'll be turning their backs on hexes, hills, and hearts and minds for a spell. According to this sparsely furnished web page project 3 will be Carrier Deck “a fast paced management game where you play as the Air Officer on board a Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier, in the midst of active war.” Multi-colour me intrigued.
O is for OMSI successor suggestion
Having failed to secure a job with SCS Software as a geographical flavour-text scribe last week, this week I'm going to try Oriolus Software:
Dear Oriolus, I was excited to hear that the bus portion of your upcoming public transport combi-sim Lotus will focus on Berlin's famous '100' route. As the 100 passes so many sites of interest (The Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Alexanderplatz, the Tiergarten etc) I'd like to offer my services as a writer of environment-enriching historical snippets. My fees are... etc.
P is for PMDG propliner previewed
PMDG, the outfit behind some of Microsoft Flight Simulator's most intricate and persuasive flyables, is close to completing its first multi-sim prop-powered project, a DC-6 for MSFS, Prepar3d and X-Plane. Kyle Rodgers' preview vids provide an exclusive glimpse of what's on the way. Hopefully PMDG will rethink pricing before release day. Ten million USD is my absolute limit where DLC is concerned.
Q is for quick teabreak
R is reserved for reader handiwork
Recently crafted a cracking scenario, a stunning skin, or an indispensable mod? Blow your own bugle via the comments section and, assuming your creation falls within Flare Path's Hampden-narrow purview, I'll paste a link here.
S is for sons of Sikorsky
I was dimly aware that amateur aeronauts were designing, building, and flying fixed-wing aircraft but until a recent YouTube ramble I had no idea that there were intrepid individuals venturing aloft in homemade whirlybirds.
T is for Tigers on the Hunt
Matrix Games' latest hunk of hexware seems to be generating as many cutting remarks as compliments. Relatively expensive, rather cumbersome, and cursed with a few surprising shortcomings, only Advanced Squad Leader veterans seem truly happy with it.
U is for understandable excitement in the DCS community
A modder called MBot is in the process of addressing the sim's most significant shortcoming, the lack of dynamic campaigning.
V is for Victory and Glory: Napoleon
Over the weekend I plan to find out whether Victory & Glory (released yesterday via Steam and the Matrix/Slitherine store, price c£20) is as challenging and flavoursome as Hannibal: Rome and Carthage in the Second Punic War, the game whose engine it quietly repurposes. The little I've seen of the elegant battle layer and fat event card deck thus far, bodes well.
W is for Wolves of the Atlantic
Horizon specks don't come much more exciting than Mark Hessburg's work-in-progress U-boat sim. Between PC periscopalians and delights like dynamic campaigns, fully modelled interiors, crew management and towable Fa 330s, are various interim mobile releases, the first of which – WOTA: U96 - is now apparently only a couple of months away.
X is for xpurgating X for reasons of xpediency
Y is for YouTube tutorials
Press the tutorials button in Victory and Glory and the game reaches for its clay pipe and tobacco pouch - instruction comes in the form of an hour's worth of YouTube videos. The reliance on external, passive pedagogy seems to be increasingly common in Flare Path's bailiwick and I can't say I'm pleased by the trend. In my experience, few things dissipate 'new game' excitement – 'new game' resolve – more effectively than being forcibly separated from the game in question at the very start of the relationship.
Z is for Zusi 3
After more than a decade of development, this truthful Teutonic train sim is finally in the hands of truth-hungry Teutonic train simmers. Purchasers of the 64€ memory stick (Sadly there's no digital delivery option) get to choose activities from vast chaos-spiced timetables rather than cramped TS2016-style scenario lists, beetle around an unusual mix of prototypical German routes, and grapple with sophisticated physics. Inspect the demo and translated feature list if the OMSI-reminiscent approach appeals.
* * * * *