EAW: New Life for an Old Flight Simulator Page 6

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One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

The verdict wasn’t unanimous that EAW was a great game, even at the height of its popularity. A look at old reviews shows an average of about 8 points out of 10, with gameplay running perhaps 9 out of 10. Those game reviewers are tough.

Common complaints included:

640×480 screen resolution (quickly fixed).

Getting kicked offline while multi-playing EAW by modem ( Only 28.8 required!).

Dull campaigns. Other reviewers liked them, though. And there was a voice briefing. In 2002, “wolfbiscuits” wrote: “EAW`s strong point is the dynamic campaign, similar to Falcon 4.0. There must be around 100 missions to fly and your actions affect the outcome…”

Flat graphics on the ground. Gordon Berg of IGN, called it “terrain like a giant tarmac”.

Jim “Twitch” Tittle of Combatsim had a different take. “Personally do not want too much terrain detail. After you fly over a few times and “gee whiz” about it, it’s just ground clutter when you’re trying to pick up that 109 turning at 10 o’clock low.”

AI (artificial intelligence-controlled aircraft) brought a few complaints. But many reviewers were surprised. “I am more impressed than disappointed with the AI pilots. Watch a German fighter attack on an Allied bomber formation, and you’ll witness diversionary flights trying to draw away escorts, vicious frontal attacks by the main German flights, and a hell-bent attitude among the German pilots to kill as many bombers as they can.”

“As an escort, giving chase to them usually results in being drawn lower and away from your flight, which in turn leaves it unescorted for the next wave of incoming fighters…I have also seen some brilliant feats of airmanship by the AI pilots. One particular scissors fight against a Bf109 at treetop level has convinced me that this is no dumb AI model… this particular pilot was good, rolling and banking just feet above the ground. While I ended up getting him with a snapshot burst, it was one of the hardest and most immersive sim “kills” I’ve ever experienced…” said John “Spoons” Sponauer in his SimHQ game review, December, 1998.

Common praise included:

Immersion factor. A poll of SimHQ EAW forum members mentioned immersion as the Number One reason they play the game. Your teammates helpfully warn of danger or congratulate you on a “Great Shot!” and your wingman will “mother hen” you if you go down. Most of the time, the squadron will listen to your orders. Is this it? Probably not. No one has quite put their finger on why EAW is so engrossing.

Scott R. Krol, PC Gameworld said, “There has never been a simulation so adept at making you feel like you’re actually in the game as EAW.”

“Regardless of the many things you can find wrong with EAW, you can’t help but love this sim.”Gordon Berg of IGN.

“…full of charm and atmosphere that you just don’t get in a sim these days…” “wolfbiscuits”

“Great game. Far more accessible than most other “sims” without dumbing itself down. Great fun.”Eric McCann, Video Games Review.

Other “high fives” from reviewers for the large number of planes in the air. Up to 256 aircraft. Still unequaled in the sim world and the envy of many developers. Yet the FPS (frames per second) seems to hold up fine even on old machines.

Oddly no one reviewer mentions 256 colors as being a limitation. Somehow, the beauty of flying comes through, with gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, stars and moon at night. A bitter subject with modders who work with the EAW color palette, however.

The flight model. Finding you have gone into a dangerous stall and spin doesn’t please arcade types (you can shut them off). But Tom “KC” Basham, publisher of Debrief Magazine wrote “Overall EAW has one of the most accurate representations of the transition from normal flight to high-AOA maneuvering to stall and finally to departure that I’ve seen in a sim. It more closely matches my experiences in aerobatics and BFM flying than most flight sims out there.”

The sight of empty shell casings dumped by the firing guns, with a little smoke. (The current Atari EAW “demo” download has gun flashes as well — something the fans’ .exe team wants to add to the standard game).

Jelly's box-bombr formation ed 8-15-05.

Daunting sight for a German pilot-Allied bombers in a protective “box”. Created by “Mr. Jelly” this week.

Spent shells, fire.

Shell casings pour below guns in EAW’s opening movie.

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