• Review: Wings Over Flanders Fields

    Flying Aids

    Compared to their modern day counterparts, the aircraft in WOFF are simple affairs and are, by their very nature, reasonably easy to fly, so in terms of pilot assistance, there isn't that much but what there is, is helpful.

    An example of this is the map which can be brought up during all phases of flight. The map is extremely useful in that it shows the position of your aircraft, relative to enemy lines. Also included on the map are the locations of friendly and enemy airfields, as well as ground units and other areas of interest. The map also displays your current flight plan with its numerous waypoints. Using another flying aid, this time the autopilot, it's possible for the AI to fly your aircraft to its desired destination. Maybe not that realistic, but certainly helpful, especially when first using WOFF.

           

    The final pilot aid I feel I should mention is that of the time acceleration mode. Aircraft during the First World War were hardly speed demons, so flying from point A to B can sometimes be a tedious affair, and for this, the speeding up of time can come in rather handy if you don't want to 'fly' in real-time.

    Damage Modelling

    Having flown the IL-2 series for some time, one of the areas that I thought was done incredible well in that simulator was the damage modelling. Returning from a mission with scraps of wing missing and the fuselage punctured with a scattering of bullet holes really gave you that feeling of reality. WOFF has perfected that feeling of reality; wings are torn off, engines catch fire, and bullets rip the canvas to shreds. All this, but remember, you have no parachute (a swift reminder that sometimes imitation is better than reality!).

    Sounds

    Before I talk about the sounds used in WOFF, I think a special mention should be made about the wonderful music score that accompanies WOFF. It has got to be (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful and atmospheric scores I have ever heard in a computer game; BioShock, Oblivion, Call of Duty, just to mention a few, all excel at their music scores and WOFF is no exception. The composer, Matt Milne, has done a superb job at setting the scene, and if you've ever watched Band of Brothers, you'll know exactly what I mean.

           

    Getting back to the sounds used within the game, you will find that, just like the visuals, the sounds add a great deal to the world of WOFF. The sounds of the engines are all there, and differ from one aircraft to the other, and once airborne, you will find that creaks and groans from your aircraft will accompany you on your flight. Wind and rain noise has also been included, as has the sound of flak and bullets.

    Artificial Intelligence

    The AI modelling of friendly and enemy aircraft in WOFF is some of the best I've seen in a flight simulator, as it is prone to both fatigue and moral. This is a great feature, and cleverly done, because if things get too much for your adversary in battle, they will break off the attack and head for home. Preservation is at the heart of the AI, and combat manoeuvres in relation to ground proximity are monitored at all times.

           

    Issues

    In terms of issues, there were only a few which I think are worth mentioning. The first is in relation to camera views. Maybe it's my setup (or my old age), but I thought the amount of cameras and different view combinations, distracted somewhat from the gameplay.

    I also found the absence of a 'mouse look view' (such as 'space and mouse click' in FSX, or 'shift 9' in X-Plane) rather disappointing. If it had been included, it would have added greatly to the accessibility of the sim. I did manage to get my hat switch view working, so as to look around, but for some reason I had to have Scroll Lock on. Apart from the issues mentioned, WOFF performed well, and not once have I had an OOM or CTD.

    Updates And Community

    WOFF is the creation of a small team, and a team which obviously love what they do. Their passion and enthusiasm for their 'baby' is clear to see, and we, as the end user, are the beneficiaries of all that hard work. WOFF also has an active community with forums and user submitted mods. Many of these mods enhance the level of graphical detail seen in WOFF, whilst others add enhancements such as new maps. One of the mods which enhances the visuals of WOFF is the D3D9 Self Shadowing mod which adds dynamic and moving shadows to aircraft interior and exteriors.

           

    Conclusion

    The amount of detail which Wings Over Flanders Fields offers to the flight simmer (or should I say historian), is truly exceptional, and to try and sum up WOFF in a short review, is nigh-on impossible.

    I hope though, that by writing this review, I can give you an ideas of what WOFF offers. Of course, similarities are going to be made with Rise of Flight (ROF) which, whilst being both fun and enjoyable, does not contain, in my opinion, the depth and longevity of WOFF.

    If you've ever wanted to know what it was like for those young brave men to take to the skies, then let Wings Over Flanders Field take you back in time.

    Purchase Wings Over Flanders Fields

    Dom Smith
    Purchase Wings Over Flanders Fields

    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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