She’s Got Crazy Eyes…
There comes a point in any relationship in which the responsible adult sits astraddle the world before them, takes a good, long look at the scene presented with a gimlet eye (or at this hour of the morning, probably a screwdriver eye) and says to the other party, “You are bat-crap insane.”
That’s kind of how I felt the entire time I played around withWings of Prey. Released last year, it represented a major shift in the prevailing winds of console gameplay, the thought that one of those little set-top boxes stuffed to the gills with overheating electronics could handle the grown-up responsibility of something akin to a flight simulator. They were colossally wrong, of course, but God bless the Russians, it didn’t really stop them from trying.
Gaijin Entertainment is a development house out of the former Soviet Union, looking capitalism square in the kisser, eager and ready to plant a big wet one right on its’ cheek. But, true to form from games coming from the beloved Motherland, it’s isn’t one of those girls that will go all the way on a first date. There are some trust issues. Think of Wings of Prey as that girl you met a long time ago that you saw once and instantly knew she was ten pounds of crazy in a five-pound bag.
There are a few differences between the original PC version of Wings of Prey and Wings of Prey: Collector’s Edition which is distributed by Iceberg Interactive.
We know from the box art that the Collector’s Edition (v188.8.131.52) was supposed to ship with the Wings of the Luftwaffe Expansion Pack, but when you attempt to play those missions, you see a dialog box that asks you if you want to buy them. We’re not sure if it was an oversight or unique marketing (what the hell is a Yum?) but it was more than a little irritating because we essentially have a copy of the original title in a different looking package with a poster enclosed.
Well, we at least didn’t have to download all the many updates that the original WoP is well known for requiring. Wrong. Acquiring the later version should have saved on patching and updating, but as I will explain later, no such luck.
Wings of Prey has set a personal record with me for the Longest-Time-Ever-Spent-Installing-and-Patching: two days. I’m perfectly serious. It took me two days to get all the patches downloaded and installed with my residential DSL bandwidth. Let me explain why.
After the mere five or ten minutes it took for me to install the game from the DVD, when I first attempted to play the game, it warned me that I needed to log in to a Yuplay client in order to play online… or at least have anything that I do have any sort of effect. So, I created a Yuplay account, logged in, and was immediately informed I needed to download the 184.108.40.206 “beta” patch.
The beta patch was a fairly small affair, but it resulted in something I’ve never seen in a game. It removed some of the game’s core files and Yuplay advised me I needed to re-download the entire game, about 7GB in size. I promptly stopped the download I didn’t ask to start, uninstalled the game, and reinstalled the game back to the default version. I should have known to review the game out-of-the-box to begin with as is the custom with most SimHQ reviews.
Yuplay, or Not
A word of advice to Yuplay. When Microsoft’s Internet browser (version IE9) which is used by billions across the globe advises people that Gaijin’s downloaded game patches should not be run and rather deleted as they present a security risk, this is known as “a bad customer experience”.
And now, a word on Yuplay. This is a sort of Steam online game delivery service but with more vodka. The Yuplay page for Wings of Preygives you the option of downloading the patches from a torrent or a Yuplay server, and having had some bad experiences downloading from a torrent, I chose the latter and regretted it because I was subjected to the actual Yuplay storefront whenever I did.
It was so perfectly dreadful, it bears an analogy between the online purveyors of digital download gaming.
Think of Games for Windows Live as an upscale department store like an American Dillard’s or Foley’s, or a British Harrod’s, where your wallet gets subjected to a prison shower scene for the cost of a single shirt, and not the good kind where it’s a women’s prison filled with hot blondes. Everything’s hideously expensive at Microsoft’s little boutique and chained to one of the most overbearing copyright protection prison guards intent on making you all his. Steam is more like the US’ Target or the UK’s chain of John Lewis stores. Lots of cool stuff, some expensive, a lot of it isn’t, and they’re always running some kind of a special on something. However, it’s always shocking when you come out of the store and stare aghast at how much you spent. Yuplay is like a Dollar Store. And not a good Dollar Store. It’s the one on the bad side of town. The one that won’t put Velveeta Shells & Cheese on the shelves, just the store brand of macaroni noodles from some unknown country with the terrifying pouch of cheese-flavoring inside. I have never seen so many truly awful things available for purchase since Tammy Lou’s last county-wide garage sale.
It is likely as more and more companies try to reap the financial benefits of digital downloading that Steam pioneered, we will see more of this kind of “me too!” operation.