• Review: Wings Over Flanders Fields

    Twenty four years ago, Microprose released their First World War aerial combat flight simulator, Knights of the Sky. This was initially available for the PC, but a year later became available for both the Amiga and Atari ST. Microprose' reputation for creating quality simulators (at that time) was well known, thus ensuring that Knights of the Sky ticked all the right boxes. In 1991, it was a graphical marvel, and featured modes such as campaign, dogfight, and head-to-head action, via a modem.

           

    Many a happy evening was had with Knights of the Sky; challenging the Red Baron to a duel, being shot down, captured, but somehow always managing to be back in time for breakfast. It would be a very long time before another WWI flight simulator came along to rival the enjoyment I got from Knights of the Sky.

    Fast forward to 2014, and Wings Over Flanders Field (WOFF) is a First World War aerial flight simulator created by the team at Old Brown Dog Software (OBD). A development of Over Flanders Field (OFF), WOFF takes you back to the Great War of 1914 to 1918, and offers you the chance to partake in the first ever aerial battles over Europe.

    WOFF features 55 highly detailed and flyable aircraft, with each being assigned to their own historically accurate squadron. These are not paid extras but are included in the sim, and add a great deal to the longevity and playability of the sim. These aircraft all exhibit different flying characteristics and paint schemes, and in my opinion, look absolutely beautiful, as well as authentic.

           

    Installation

    Once you have downloaded the WOFF zip file and it has been extracted, it is a simple task of running the installer. One thing I should mention is that one of the requirements of WOFF is the requirement of Microsoft's Combat Flight Simulator 3 for part of the installation. The reason being is that WOFF requires some of the CFS3 core files to function. For me, this wasn't a big deal as I happened to already own a copy of CFS3, but for those of you who don't; a quick search on Amazon will locate you a copy for under ten bucks. (Combat Flight Simulator 3: Battle For Europe - PC).

    During the installation process, the WOFF installer will ask you to load the CFS3 disc into your DVD drive. Once done, it will extract the relevant data (not the whole CFS3 program) to the WOFF directory.

    When the install process has been completed, a trip to the WOFF web site is highly recommended, so as to make sure you're running the latest version of the simulator.

           

    To improve performance of load times and also gameplay, defragging your hard drive is recommended, but this is just my own personal preference, and not something which is required.

    A nice feature of WOFF is the Manager, and this is where you can configure your numerous input assignments. As keen as you are to get into the air, I highly suggest spending a bit of time here setting up your controls; WOFF will feel all the better for it.

    Documentation

    Documentation consists of five PDF documents covering areas such as FAQ, player commands, and a key guide, all of which are done extremely well. Like the Manager mentioned earlier, spending some time reading the FAQ, answers many of the questions you might have. One thing, which in my opinion is a must do, is the printing out of the key guide. Doing this will add greatly to your enjoyment of the sim and leave you free to focus on being shot down!

           

    Tags: obd, woff

    8 Comments
    1. anaismith's Avatar
      anaismith -
      24 years! Yikes I had that, where did the time go?
    1. adger1971's Avatar
      adger1971 -
      A really good review. Ive been flying this incredible sim since its release and it's probably the best sim I've ever flown (and I've flown them all from the C64 era to D.c.s A10 and Falcon 4 Bms on my PC). What WOFF does to the CFS3 engine is quite remarkable. Excellent FMs for all flyable craft, excellent graphics, and above all else Superb Developer support. An excellent website with some really helpful people. I cannot recommend it enough.
    1. cptroyce's Avatar
      cptroyce -
      This sim is absolutely the best single player, campaign environment one could hope for in WW1 setting.
      It's a labor of love and it shows in every aspect. The AI coding alone is worth the price of admission.

      Try it..fly it..you will love it!
    1. Polovski's Avatar
      Polovski -
      Many thanks for a super review Dom.

      One comment regarding your comments about 'mouselook'. I believe there is a 3rd party utility to allow this (see FAQ section in our forums) but also most people use TracKIR 4 or 5 which totally transforms how you feel in the craft, much more immersive. Also for WOFF we improved TracKIR response greatly, so looking around is much smoother and cleaner than it would normally be.

      http://simhq.com/forum/ubbthreads.ph...ok#Post3876639

      Also some have been using free programs such as FaceTrackNOIR with WOFF that just uses a web camera - cheaper than TracKIR.

      Hope that helps.
    1. btwallis's Avatar
      btwallis -
      Since I have Rise of Flight...which is also excellent...can you tell us the different, or advantage to get another sim of this nature.
    1. Slick Wilhelm's Avatar
      Slick Wilhelm -
      Quote Originally Posted by btwallis View Post
      Since I have Rise of Flight...which is also excellent...can you tell us the different, or advantage to get another sim of this nature.
      IMO, WOFF holds two major advantages over ROF (which I also love):

      1) Quality of AI. The AI in WOFF can and does actually break off combat and head for home when it feels like it is losing a fight. It also does things that are unpredictable, yet plausible. Like deciding not to attack every formation of enemy aircraft. The AI in WOFF is not perfect, of course, but it is leaps and bounds more sophisticated than ROF's AI.

      2) Dynamic campaigns. Need I say more? WOFF allows one to create a career and fly with that pilot from late 1915 to late 1918. You may choose to have your career generated somewhat randomly by choosing a few starting parameters, or you may specifically choose a squadron and time of year. Want to fly in No.209 squadron with Roy Brown and Wilfred Mays in mid April 1918? You can do that! Or perhaps you'd rather join Jasta 2 in late summer of 1916 and fly with Boelcke.

      One of my favorite features in WOFF, is that you can enable random mechanical failures. I have experienced a few random engine failures while grabbing alt on the way to a mission. It makes for a white-knuckled trip back to base, hoping you have enough alt to perform a dead-stick landing back at the aerodrome.

      Did I fail to mention the occasional bounces from enemy aircraft while you're minding your own business, trying to land at the aerodrome after an exhausting mission? It's things like this that keep WOFF fresh, and unique in the flight sim world.

      I've flown every WWI known to man since 1990, and I can say without reservation that WOFF is the best all-around WWI flight sim that it's been my pleasure to fly. And that includes my first flight sim passion, the original Red Baron.
    1. btwallis's Avatar
      btwallis -
      Very good comments Slick. Much thanks. Funny you should mention the Red Baron, which I also still have the original disks...I loved that game at that time.
    1. widowmaker320's Avatar
      widowmaker320 -
      Great Review...for a truly remarkable Simulator. I've been in love with this since it first appeared as Over Flanders Fields Phase 1.
      Where it scores (as has been mentioned) is the Campaign. You don't 'play' this Sim...you live it.
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