Hat in the Ring

The First Expansion Pack for Over Flanders Fields Phase 3

by Jens “McGonigle” Lindblad

Introduction

Over Flanders Fields

With the nations of Europe engaged in War, the United States was pledged to a policy of isolationism while trying to mediate and facilitate a peace in Europe.

In May 1915 a German U-boat sank the Lusitania during the naval blockade of the British Isles, claiming that the liner was in fact carrying contraband of war, was classed as an auxiliary cruiser, and as such Germany had every right to sink her.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson demanded that Germany stop attacks on passenger ships to which Germany agreed, thus averting war with the U.S. in 1915.

In January 1917 however, British Intelligence uncovered a secret proposal from Germany to Mexico regarding an alliance between the two countries against the U.S. This proposal and the fact that 7 U.S. merchant ships had been sunk by German submarines prompted the U.S. congress to accept the declaration of war on Germany.

To the troops and populations in Europe this meant that desperately needed relief was on its way finally, and all hopes for German victory were irrevocably extinguished.

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there –
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming
Ev’rywhere.
So prepare, say a pray’r,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We’ll be over, we’re coming over,
And we won’t come back till it’s over
Over there.

“Over There” written by George M. Cohan

 

The interface screen changes with nationality

The interface screen changes with nationality

The interface screen changes with each nationality

Contents

Now, some 92 years later, the American forces are once again being shipped to the battlegrounds of Europe with the brilliant Hat in the Ring expansion pack for Over Flanders Fields Phase 3.

“Hat in the Ring” of course refers to the 94th Fighter Squadron and its famous insignia. The expansion pack which installs flawlessly requires a copy of Combat Flight Simulator 3 and Over Flanders Fields Phase 3: Between Heaven and Hell to work and it brings 409MB of new content to your OFF Phase 3 installation, including the following new aircraft types:

  • Nieuport N.28
  • Nieuport N.24
  • Nieuport N.24 bis
  • Nieuport N.17 bis
  • Fokker E.V “Razor”
  • Airco D.H.5

The new aircraft have higher virtual cockpit detail with new texture techniques for higher resolutions, some of them feature moving arms and hands on the controls in the cockpit. Perhaps this feature will make it into more planes in future updates?

Nieuport 28 Interior

Nieuport 28 Interior

Naturally, the American squadrons are brought in as well, with hundreds of new authentic aircraft textures bringing the total number of different machines you can encounter in OFF up to well over 4000 — and no, I haven’t counted them, I’ll take the developers’ word for it.

You can also skin your own personal airframe, tutorials are available on the net. Not being a skinner myself I’m afraid it is a bit over the top of my head.

This review will be devoted almost entirely to the new expansion pack. You can read or re-read SimHQ’s earlier reviews of Over Flanders Fields here, the review of the Superpatch 1.32 here, and the Hat in the Ring preview here.

I’ll also cover some ground which is not necessarily new to Hat in the Ring expansion but which has not been discussed before.

Winter Duel

Winter Duel

What is instantly noticeable when commencing your first flight in the new expansion is that the ground landscapes have been thoroughly overhauled and revised with high resolution airfield textures and tree models. Forest and wood layouts have been revised as have the autogen tree models. You now fly over very lush areas of trees and forests, not that they were by any means not more than satisfactory in the pre-expansion version, but the improvement is quite astonishing.

Wind gusting now has a pronounced effect on your aircraft as it will cause the aircraft to suddenly drop wings, loose height and be forced sideways and off-course, which means you will have to be a very attentive pilot during all phases of your flight from the take-off, during the entire course of your actual flight and to touch down.

Mission types will now better match the aircraft involved, e.g. the DH5 will be assigned in ground attack roles, and mobile ground unit deployment has also been improved upon. The interface manager screens from which you will mange your pilots and select between the different game modes, etc., will now change according to the pilot nationality. A very nice feature.

DH5

DH5

Finally the effects have also been revised. Ack-ack sounds and looks even more menacing, and the chattering of aircraft mounted machine-guns seems louder and more frequent, or am I just very good at putting myself in situations where I’m being shot at?

The asking price for the expansion is a very reasonable $19.99 USD.

Performance

The revised ground textures; airfields, woods, forests, etc. will probably demand more of your GPU than in the previous version of OFF. Especially bad weather seems to be hard on the system. I was a bit shocked to learn that I had to reduce the aircraft detail slider from 5 to 4 in the quality settings to maintain good frame rates when encountering rainstorms. It is very important to add that with these settings I do not feel that I sacrifice any visual quality for the sake of fluent game play, even with several aircraft in the sky. The screenshots you see in this article were taken with a resolution of 1680×1050 and the following settings:

Graphics Settings

Graphics Settings

These settings gave me between 30 and 60 fps. And then again, you might find that this expansion will give you better fps as has been reported by some users. Such is the world of computers.

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