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Red Baron II (Windows)

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Developed by
Released
Platform
76
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Ghost (106)
Written on  :  Jun 21, 2000
Rating  :  3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars
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Summary

What a disappointment...

The Good

There aren't many WWI flight simulators out there, certainly no current ones, so this game fills a niche that would be non-existant without it.

The graphics are quite good for the time it was released. As you start the propeller, you can a watch it spin and slowly come to life, just as you would in a real WWI airplane. The countryside is well rendered and the sounds are quite realistic. As you swoop in and strafe an enemy airfield or town you can here the air raid sirens whine and the wind whoosh past your ears. The sirens will get louder and softer as your distance changes.

The flight models are much more realistic than this game's predecessor. The aircraft of WWI were not at all nimble to turn or climb, and this game shows that nicely.

Career Mode features an ever-changing, dynamic war front, or so the developer claims, which is a pretty new feature for this kind of game. If you manage kill a certain pilot in combat, like Max Immelmann, he will not be back in future mission.

The Bad

As good as the graphics were, there was much left to be desired. Enemy planes had a very annoying tendency to blend in perfectly with the ground making them impossible to find without computer assistance (an issue I will get to in a moment). The paint schemes on actual combat aircraft were designed to make them difficult to find, but this is ridiculous!

Situation awareness was made very difficult in this game. Different views could be bound to a hat switch, but the differences between the views left huge blind spots. Dynamix attempted to overcome this with a "slewable cockpit" mode which would put you inside the 3D model of your plane (as opposed to the 2D instrument panel that diplays all your gauges) and allow you to move your head around to any angle. Unfortunately, the gauges modelled in the slewable cockpit do not function and it is impossible to manipulate while in the heat of combat. The only way to deal with this is to use one of the buttons which will center your view on enemy units, friendlies, or ground objuects depending on what you choose. This takes all the fun and challenge out of situation awareness, thus eliminating the largest part of what air combat is all about.

This is yet another example of a game that was released before it was finished. The original release of the game was fraught with enough bugs to make a patient gamer go nuts. It also did not have any 3D acceleration capabilities which severly hampered the graphics. Dynamix put out many patch files to fix the bugs and even put out a re-release of the game that featured 3D acceleration, but even this did not address every issue. This game should not have been released in the state it was in. The people at Dynamix should be ashamed of themselves.

The Bottom Line

This game had the potential to be one of the greatest air combat games of all time, but after all the hype and promises made by the company, the excruciating long wait for its release, and the legacy left by the original Red Baron, this game fell far short of its expectations.