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The Flare Path: What are they all playing this weekend?


April showers filling my gutters, May blossom spangling my hedge, June bugs headbutting my window... Mother Nature seems to have muddled her months this year. I'm not one for idle gossip as you well know but Mr Valentine at the sweet shop reckons she's back on the gin. Apparently she reeked of the stuff when she came in for her sherbet lemons on Monday. Just to be on the safe side I recommend everyone stays in this weekend and plays personal computer games about war and aeroplanes. That's what me and the six FOFPs* below are planning to do.

*Friends of Flare Path

Oliver Cromwell: I usually spend Saturday trimming the hairs on my many warts (Sunday is for church, natch) but there will be no bristle bashing this weekend as English Civil War beckons. Hopefully the crash reports speckling the official forum and the fact that Slitherine have decided not to release on Steam isn't significant. The involvement of The Sealed Knot would usually inspire confidence, but as the reenactors arrived too late to error check the map or manual, I suspect their influence on balance and play mechanisms is minimal. On the bright side, Spanish developer HQ know the engine well (their previous efforts include Thirty Years War and España 1936), the price, £17, isn't too alarming, and compared to some of the more sprawling, labour-intensive AGEod titles, this one looks pleasingly pert.


Bernard Montgomery: Having recently offered my services to Brian Kelly as a Desert War 1940-1942 tester, I suspect beige hexagons will be monopolising my monitor for months to come. I first became aware of Brian's unusual WEGO freeware through The Flare Path, a weekly column written by someone whose grandad I apparently once inspected [Sadly, I only remember three of Grandad-in-the-white-car's war stories - Meeting Monty. Learning to drive a Bren Gun Carrier. The day I was machinegunned by a Luftwaffe raider while driving a truck along the South coast. Ed]. One of Slitherine's talent scouts clearly liked Desert War 1940-43 and its Pacific spin-off Peleliu as much as I did, because the original title, stripped of its Tunisian element but swollen with extra Libyan scenarios,  is heading for a commercial release this autumn. I've often wondered whether Rommel might have been whipped earlier if the Eighth Army had been mine to marshal in '41. Using Desert War 1940-1942 as a tactical Petri dish I plan to find out.


Amy Johnson: I'm opening a new branch of Oak Furniture Land in Hartlepool on Saturday morning. Once that's done it's straight home for Primula-filled Hula Hoops, chilled Scrumpy Jack and an afternoon of Flight Sim World. Bliss! I wasn't planning to get Dovetail's Early Access FSX-sequel-in-all-but-name until the selection of flyables expanded a bit (The lack of biplanes, jets, and large aerodynes in the initial release is disappointing) but then this email arrived saying I was eligible for a free copy because I'd bought Flight School. Being a bit of a luddite where PCs are concerned (I can strip and reassemble a Gipsy Major in a Force 10 gale with my eyes closed, obviously) I'm not entirely sure why I should be excited about the switch from 32 bit to 64 bit (Less strain on the CPU? Faster framerates and fewer stutters?). Will improved cockpit shadowing, lovely windscreen raindrops, and a new GUI together with integrated Orbx terrain textures and Accu-Feel flight subtleties compensate for a recycled scenery system, no backwards compatibility or Real Weather? I should know by Monday. Talking to Jim the other day (yes, we're still in regular contact) he mentioned that some third-party MSFS add-on devs are far from happy with Dovetail's approach to growing the sim (All commercial expansions must be approved by DTG and made available through Steam. There's no news yet on whether users will be able to create freeware aircraft). He reckons that some devs may decide to stick with FSX and P3D rather than create for FSW.


James M. Gavin: I haven't played many video games since I got into bobbin lacemaking in 1985 (Try it. Seriously. It will surprise you.). Steel Division may well lure me back, but the title I'm really excited about is Shrapnel's All American: The 82nd Airborne in Normandy. I thoroughly enjoyed its predecessor 101: the Airborne Invasion of Normandy and expect great things from the sequel. The fact that All American has now been in production for almost twenty years suggests a staggeringly polished/rich wargame is on the way. The deafening silence on the official forum also indicates a dev hard at work. Roll on 2009!


Kim Jong-un: When I'm not threatening to plunge East Asia into an unimaginably ghastly thermonuclear war I like to play NBA Playgrounds and games about plunging East Asia into an unimaginably ghastly thermonuclear war. Imagine my delight when I heard about yesterday's release of Command: Chains of War. The bungling Pentagon stooges at Slitherine and Warfare Sims have played right into my hands by providing me with the perfect tool for testing invasion scenarios and analysing enemy dispositions and capabilities. Once I've circumvented their cunning security measures (a creaky UI) there'll be no stopping me. And in the game.


Supreme Commander Servalan: Annoyingly I have to attend an execution on Cygnus Alpha on Saturday (Kerin, the Chief Security Officer. Don't ask!). If I forget to put Steam in offline mode before boarding my ship - all too easy -  that will mean an entire day without Children of a Dead Earth, a wonderful Kerbal Space Program-style space combat game with a 1:1 scale solar system and reality-rooted weapon physics. A hideous prospect!


Tim Stone: I've just heard there's a Cold Waters preview build waiting for me in a hardened pen just inside the Arctic Circle (Killerfish's single sub follow-up to Atlantic Fleet is now only a week or two away from release!). That's going to be awfully hard to resist during the next few days yet resist it I must as I'm supposed to be liberating Normandy this weekend in readiness for a Steel Division Wot I Think. By the time we next meet many innocent Panzer IVs and Shermans will be dead... countless farmhouses and barns will have been reduced to rubble... numerous hours wasted attempting to grab attractive close-quarters screenshots of Hawker Typhoons. Is there anything that you'd particularly like to know about Eugen's latest that a chump with review code and a natural penchant for singleplayer might be able to discover during the coming week?

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