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Red Baron (DOS)

78
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Maury Markowitz (222)
Written on  :  Sep 24, 2001
Platform  :  DOS

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful

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Summary

Probably the most fun flight sim ever

The Good

I'm a fight sim junkie, I try them all. Technically this one isn't the best; the physics are only so-so, there isn't a lot in the world other than the planes, and the missions are all canned. And being on a PC in '91 you get lousy graphics and sound too (compared to the Mac of the same era). Normally this would result in me trashing the game, but I can't, it's probably the best one I've ever flown.

That's because of the way the game draws you in. The campaign system is flawlessly executed and follows you through the war, offering promotions, movement to "expert" squadrons, even personal challenges from pilots on the other side. I had two of these, in one a French pilot challenged me and I won after having to hide out in some clouds for a while. In another I showed up and he brought his entire squad with him - but I was flying a Triplane so they didn't last long.

An example of the depth is the way your plane is handled. Once you've done well enough you are allowed to start requesting the newest models from the factories, and even get to paint them the way you like in an editor. I haven't seen that anywhere else.

As to the rest it's all "good enough". There's enough planes in the air at once, enough types of them, enough types of missions, enough AI, enough of a flight model etc. They did just enough to make the engine work, and when combined with the campaign system the whole thing just lit up.

The Bad

I think the only real flaw was the rather poor "world" outside the planes. Basically there wasn't one. Dipping below 10000ft put you in this netherworld where nothing happened.

Perhaps more annoying is that the missions are completely hard-wired with absolutely no randomness at all. This gets distracting when you re-play them, which you will. Hellcats had this one beat.

Also the AI was good for it's day, but didn't show enough variance for different famous pilots. For instance in one mission the Red Baron (I was now a member of the flying circus) got killed by flying directly onto the nose gun of a British bomber. I was stunned so I tried it again,and the same thing happened. That's somewhat annoying considering that the Baron was famous for "hanging out" way above the fight and then coming down when planes attempted to leave combat. I suppose this isn't a trivial issue considering the machines of the day, but I did find it distracting.

The Bottom Line

If you get the chance, play this game.