“But, It Goes To 11…”
Another change people are going to see is the new “Unlimited” setting for the graphics’ complexity and overall look. This takes the level of rendering to new plateau. I have a pretty quick DirectX 9.0-capable card and I was seeing single-digit framerates on just “High”. After turning off the cockpit reflection (which I don’t like to do, I like the look it gives) I was able to see decent frames per second again with the rest of the settings still set to “High”.
The ground textures are quite attractive at medium-to-high altitudes, and not even too shabby down lower. Down lower, the real graphics changes have occurred in urban areas. You no longer see one generic building that has been resized over and over again. You’ll see towns with the community water well, homes, and the occasional mosque. The cities have received a punch up, and while Jerusalem doesn’t have a historically accurate skyline, you will see the Pyramids of Giza outside of Cairo. As long as you keep in mind this series was never intended to be an uber-realistic simulation, you’ll be fine.
I also realized the importance of having a decent sound card. I’d always known that a good sound card was important for hearing the best quality sound, but I’d been rather impressed with my onboard 5.1-channel sound card with other games. I fired up Wings Over Israel and noticed a serious problem and fast. First, it popped and crackled like I was rolling over bubble wrap with my office chair and the stereo placement was completely off whenever I moved the camera.
I dug out an old Audigy2 ZS that I’d put away because one of the inputs was broken, but I downgraded my speakers back to a 2.1-channel setup, installed the card, and my sound problems completely and utterly vanished. Lesson: Buy the good sound card.