• Review: Wings Over Flanders Fields: Ultimate Edition

    The dynamic campaign also extends to the ground war. Players can fly over convoys of supply trucks heading to the Front. Artillery batteries fire from behind the lines, and can be heard even at altitude. Towns and villages are destroyed over the course of the conflict and the sim replicates the movement of the Western Front in historically accurate stages. During major offensives, players will encounter significantly more air traffic and ground fire. Flying low over the lines will invite a hail of gunfire from machine gun nests and squads of enemy troops. Players can even hear the sporadic shots of enemy rifle fire. Even the sim's airfields have been completely overhauled to reflect their historical counterparts. Drums of gasoline burn at night to provide landing lights to late-returning aircraft. Trucks cart supplies around the field and hangars are filled with aircraft undergoing repair work. Historically significant airfields, like those used by Jasta 11 or 56 RFC, have been recreated brick by brick from period photographs.

    Wings Over Flanders Fields     Wings Over Flanders Fields

    Your squadron is also populated with historic aces and dynamically created pilots. Players can visit the Intelligence Room and read about the latest offensive, check the daily news, and read intelligence on enemy squadrons are in the area. Players can read up on the enemy's aircraft and view beautifully rendered illustrations of the machines. All of the WOFF:UE's documents - from enlistment papers, to pilot ID cards, to claims forms, commendation letters, medals, and (in the case of the Germans) victory goblets are all fully accurate to the period, right down to the color of ink used in the commanding officer's signature.

    To summarize it simply: WOFF:UE recreates the entire experience of being an aviator in the First World War. Every aspect of the sim, from enlistment and training, to surviving in antiquated machines until a suitable replacement arrives, flying over battles raging across muddy trenches, and witnessing towns and cities being obliterated as the war takes ever more lives - are all here in remarkable detail. The results are incredibly immersive and demonstrate that the goal in WOFF:UE is not to become a metric ace (although you can certainly try) but rather, to survive. And while that might not initially resonate with the same appeal as unlocking an achievement, it is exponentially more satisfying.

    Graphics And Sound

    Of course, even a well made dynamic campaign can only immerse players so much. Graphical fidelity and sound quality also work together to create the illusion of being in the sim rather than simply playing it. OBD faced a difficult task that has only grown over the last decade. The sim is wedded to the CFS3 engine and initially, OBD had to convince players that the negative aspects CFS3 were no longer baked into OFF. WOFF:UE, however, represents a stunning step forward in what OBD has extracted from an antiquated graphics engine.

    Wings Over Flanders Fields     Wings Over Flanders Fields

    Even on the stock graphical settings, WOFF:UE is a visually stunning sim by any measure. Previous third-party additions like Ankor's shadow mod have been fully integrated into the sim and the game now runs in DirectX 9. While that might not be as cutting edge as newer games, it means that WOFF:UE renders the entirety of Western Europe, complete with thousands of ground objects and units (from tanks and soldiers, to herds of sheep) as well as hundreds of high resolution aircraft and does so with consistently high frame rates. Even on my modest system, which runs a GeForce 745GTX, WOFF:UE runs consistently between 50 and 60 fps and looks great.

    As with all simulations, some fine tuning might be required if you are not running a high-end gaming system. That said, WOFF:UE is significantly easier to tailor to your system, and with some tweaks within nVidia's Control Panel, the sim looks downright breathtaking. The combination of real time lighting and shadow effects, significantly more detailed cockpits, and a fully implemented weather system creates a beautiful sense of depth and atmosphere while in flight. Banking your aircraft across a formation of wispy clouds at dawn, cascades warm rays of light through the plane and casts moving shadows of wires, wing struts, and even the cooling vents of your machine guns and your pilot's figure. Whether cruising back to base at sunset, flying through a snowstorm, or trying to survive a swirling dogfight, the graphics engine in WOFF:UE truly shines. The sim renders everything beautifully. Terrain is drawn in such detail that players can navigate by it. Dogfights showcase a dazzling range of detail: incredible terrain, gorgeous clouds, splashes of color from enemy planes zipping past you, muzzle flashes as your guns fire, shadows cascading off your wings, the sun blinding your view, and the hypnotizing blur of the propeller; it all combines perfectly. Anyone new to the sim would have no idea it was built on technology that originated in 2001.

    Wings Over Flanders Fields     Wings Over Flanders Fields

    WOFF:UE's sound compliments its graphics with cinema level quality. Aircraft engines sound just like the real thing. Inline motors hum smoothly, rotary engines blip and cough back to life in flight, and machine guns now sound truly frightening. Artillery fire rumbles from miles away and time delayed explosions echo as shells explode along the Front. Wind whips through the cockpit and, if damaged, you can hear it whistling through bullet holes in the machine's airframe. OBD excels in particularly small details; land your plane at your home field, switch the engine off, and you might hear your beloved dog barking in the distance, or discern the echo of a gramophone playing a period correct tune. This is a sim that demands to be played on high quality speakers or headphones.

    Soundtrack

    Special mention must be made of Matt Miline's incredible score for the OFF series. His newest addition to the soundtrack for WOFF:UE reflects the sim's sound quality as a whole. It is a truly motion picture quality soundtrack that is incredibly moving, deeply immersive, and truly suits the period that WOFF:UE is set in. The music is so good in WOFF:UE that it is utterly inseparable from the rest of the sim.


    5 Comments
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      The best WW1 flight simulator I've ever experienced on the PC! Its dynamic campaign, puts all others to shame.

      Well done to the WOFF team.
    1. bucksnort's Avatar
      bucksnort -
      WOFF UE is a stunningly good flight simulator that anyone with an interest in flight sims will enjoy. From training missions in England, to fighting the Red Baron or bombing London in Gothas, its all there.

      And by 2017 standards, WOFF UE is drop dead gorgeous. The best, and I mean the best flight sims can't touch what you'll see as you rise off an airfield at sunrise in WOFF UE. I don't know how they did it, but they did it.
    1. mkl's Avatar
      mkl -
      I'm afraid that some flight sim reviews are so laudatory that they strike one as little more than attempts to sell product, and that this review seems to fit into that mould. We are told that it will discuss the weaknesses of the simulation, and that is the last we hear of them, because in fact everything is wonderful. Perhaps it is, but I shan't be buying it until I read something with a little more balance.
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mkl View Post
      I'm afraid that some flight sim reviews are so laudatory that they strike one as little more than attempts to sell product, and that this review seems to fit into that mould. We are told that it will discuss the weaknesses of the simulation, and that is the last we hear of them, because in fact everything is wonderful. Perhaps it is, but I shan't be buying it until I read something with a little more balance.
      What a shame you didn't get anything out of the review. If you're looking for criticisms (weaknesses) relating to the product, here are two the author mentions in the article:

      While WOFF:UE does not come with a fully realized manual

      If you are looking to play WOFF:UE online, however, you might be disappointed. OBD has designed a strictly single player offering which includes a feature rich dynamic campaign.


      If nothing else, it would be nice to thank the author for taking the time to write the article.

      W33
    1. widowmaker320's Avatar
      widowmaker320 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mkl View Post
      I'm afraid that some flight sim reviews are so laudatory that they strike one as little more than attempts to sell product, and that this review seems to fit into that mould. We are told that it will discuss the weaknesses of the simulation, and that is the last we hear of them, because in fact everything is wonderful. Perhaps it is, but I shan't be buying it until I read something with a little more balance.
      Sadly, you'll miss out on the Best WW1 simulator ever (knocks spots off ROF) in my opinion.
      The only 'downside' is having to install CFS3 (which we all know was pretty pants).... but it bears no resemblance to CFS3 however
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