Red Baron II

Moby ID: 1022

Description official descriptions

The much anticipated sequel to the first Red Baron, this game allows you to take to the skies once again in actual World War I aircraft. You are allowed to fly a wide variety of fighter craft (scouts, as they were called) from both sides in "instant action," single mission, and campaign modes. The campaign mode features a dynamic war front that is always changing based on the actions of you, your squadron, and all the other squadrons positioned along the Front.

The basic idea stays true to the original Red Baron, but with improved graphics, more realistic flight models, smarter AI, and a much larger, vibrant game world.

Spellings

  • Красный Барон 2 - Russian spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

20 People (16 developers, 4 thanks)

Producer
Director
Historical Section
Tactical Section
Medals and Awards Section
Gameplay Section
Installation and Setup
Quality Assurance and Editing
Manual Editing and Layout
Manual Design
Computer Artists
Color Illustrations
Special Thanks To
  • The National Archives and Records Administration
  • The Congressional Medal of Honor Society - National Headquarters
  • The Oregon Air and Space Museum
Localisation
Translation
Editing
Special Thanks To
  • Das Wehrgeschichtliche Museum in Rastatt for the technical advice

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 79% (based on 18 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 14 ratings with 3 reviews)

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.

Windows · by Ghost (120) · 2000

A horribly disappointing bug jar

The Good
Well... the concept is good.

The Bad
Nothing about this game works properly. Game balance and AI are bad in every respect; there is literally nothing that works well. The damage model doesn't work at all, the flight models aren't right, the missions are boring and largely stupid. The time acceleration mode doesn't work well and doesn't come out of acceleration all the time when enemies attack, which is REALLY unfortunate because unlike the original you have to do an enormous (I mean enormous) amount of meaningless level flying just to get to where battles are. Friendly and enemy AI is pitifully bad and rife with horrible, mission-losing bugs.

The graphics are terrible relative to their competitors; for a 1997 game to not be using at least some 3D technology is just absurd (a 3D patch was later released that doesn't really work.)

I was really looking forward to this game because the original was a masterpeice, but this game really sucks. You spend 80% of your time taking off and flying over friendly territory, doing nothing, and when you finally get into a battle it's buggy and unrealistic. What a peice of junk.

The Bottom Line
This game will set you back a few bucks and leave you with nothing but a shiny coaster. Stay away.

Windows · by Rick Jones (96) · 2001

Highly underrated and often misunderstood.

The Good
To be frank, this game was actually quite good.

Making matters worse, I have always only played the original version of the game without any patches. Even with the strange crashes that can happen, and the other odd bug here and there, it never ruined my enjoyment of this game.

How you choose to look at this game is the biggest factor in how you feel about it after you play. To judge it by modern standards would, of course, be grossly unfair. For one thing, when it came out, no one was bothering to still make combat flight simulators that included a somewhat realistic campaign mode.

In fact, almost every combat flight sim released has had a linear mission campaign. This is true of even the original Red Baron, which only allowed you to gain in rank so to effect your level of control during missions and paint your plane as you saw fit. If you where never wounded in the original and stayed at the same base, you would always see the same missions, depending on which side you played. I assure you, all missions you play in campaign mode in the sequel are truly random, and the planes you will run across will be determined by what other aerodromes are near your current location.

In fact I played one campaign where every time I went out on a patrol for a period of about a month I ran across a specific British ace, stationed near the patrol area, attacking the lines! This actually lead to me discovering one of the bugs in the game, which I will mention in the bad list.

Because the campaign mode is entirely random as to what type of mission you will get, it also can become brutal. If you are sent on a lower altitude balloon busting mission with only one or two wingmen, don't expect to come back unless you stick close to the ground and/or attack the machine gun nests stationed around it. If there is an enemy escort (Which there isn't always.) you likely are in for a white knuckle ride that will likely end with a sudden stop, that being your untimely death.

But going right along with this randomness is the fact that promotion can really effect the outcome of the missions in this sequel. If you manage to survive to the highest rank, or alternately start the game on said rank, then you now have near total control of how the missions take place. Altitude, type of airplane (If your aerodrome has more then one that is.) ammo, and formation. Or you can opt to take a rain check on the dangerous mission and either create your own, or take over someone else's flight.

Another nice feature is that this game is one of the few flight sims of its time to include more then two sides. While the original Red Baron offered you three groups, American, English or German, this game smartly includes the French among this list. If you must play an American flyboy before America got into the war, then you can fly for LaFayette, the equivalent of the French foreign legion for pilots during the great war.

Historical events, from important to mundane take place, such as news reports of downed aces, new planes, and battles won and lost. Even things like pilots from your squad buying the farm, being transferred (Something which you are not immune to.) or promoted are reported. There is also a ton of information regarding your fellow pilots. Kills, not only in number but what type of plane shot down, as well as medals received are dutifully recorded.

Another often overlooked point is that the game allows you to customize the difficulty level. Trust me when I say, full realism difficulty isn't easy. In the early part of the war it can be, since all planes move slow and turn slow, but later on down the road a veteran enemy pilot in a good plane can shoot you down if you don't pay close attention. While it is true that spotting enemy planes is extremely hard without cheating, I've actually flown a plane and passed by another plane while in the air during mid-day in real life. He was only about a thousand or two feet away, but I sure didn't see him, and I knew where he was thanks to the tower telling me. Needless to say I didn't find this aspect of the game unrealistic at all.

Lastly I feel the need to reiterate the point that Red Baron 2's ground detail is fantastic for a game of its time. I offer a small example for you to consider. If you play the game a while, you will find yourself flying over the front during a ground attack. How will you be able to tell? Tiny little men with green or gray outfits running along side tanks to the other side of the line. The men usually die before they get to the machine gun nests, while the tanks keep on keeping on. And yes, if you get close enough you can see the tanks and men, and shoot them. Shoot a tank enough and it catches on fire! How can't you love this?

The Bad
Okay, I admit it, this game was never free of bugs. However as I already said, most of those bugs didn't "bug me" that much. Crashing I could have lived without, and the aces I shot down one mission popping up in the next (With my original unpatched version mind you.) was a little goofy. Heaven forbid if an ace on my wing was shot down though, as his death would always be final, unless he was lucky enough to land.

One big point of contention I did have with the game was mission regularity. While it is true that the amount of missions you will fly in a month are accurate, the real aces never encountered an enemy plane on every flight. While it does happen that some rare times you go up you don't encounter anything, most of the time you will. If you are like me and start your campaign in the early part of the air war, you can rack up enough kills to top the Red Baron himself in only three months with any luck.

But my biggest gripe of all was that combat damage never carried over on the map. If you somehow manage to blow up a bridge or something as large and hard to repair, It will be back to full repair in just a few days if you bother to fly over it again. Considering the engine being used here is that of the remake of Dynamix's A-10 Tank Killer, which would remember if you managed to damage a installation from one mission to the next, I have to ask why.

In fact, I've played some long campaigns, and I can't say I ever noticed the line moving as they claim it does. I challenge anyone to disprove this.

The Bottom Line
Final thoughts.

This game, while suffering from quite a few bugs, still managed to present a experience I've yet to see again in a combat flight sim, much less one about world war one.

If only Sierra and conversely Dynamix hadn't changed hands, and the higher ups had decided to make a Red Baron 3 with all the great features here plus more! Then perhaps I could truly have given up on humanity in general and sealed myself within a vault with the great war flight sim of my dreams. If only my friends, if only...

Windows · by David Bailey (13) · 2004

Trivia

Coupon

Some versions of Red Baron II included a coupon inside redeemable for a free Red Baron Premium brand Pizza. Amazingly, when online video game reviewer Clint Basinger of Lazy Game Reviews tried to redeem said coupon 17 years later, it turned out to still be valid. You can find the video here.

Patch

Sierra eventually released a patch for Red Baron II that fixed most of the glaringly obvious bugs and provided 3D support (hence the name change to Red Baron 3-D).

Information also contributed by Amayirot Akago and WildKard

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Wolfang.

Additional contributors: JubalHarshaw, Ghost, Alaka, Klaster_1.

Game added March 10, 2000. Last modified February 3, 2024.