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Red Baron II

Red Baron II
3
Platforms: PC
Publisher: Sierra On-Line
Developer: Dynamix, Inc
Genres: Simulator / Flight Simulator
Release Date: 1997
Game Modes: Singleplayer

Snap112_1The first Red Baron was tremendously well received in its heyday. The sequel came out a full seven years after the original, and it had a huge reputation to live up to.

Since the two games have a large time gap between them, it’s no wonder Red Baron II feels a lot more advanced. The rolling hills, cultivated fields, texture-mapped sky, and pastoral villages are actually quite attractive, though the game still falls behind other 3D accelerated games from the same period.

The planes themselves are lovingly detailed from the outside and inside. Color schemes and squadron markings are faithfully presented, along with struts, mounted guns, and moving control surfaces. Camouflage is actually effective against the terrain, whereas Richthofen’s bright red airplane would be an easy target against the green fields and brown trenches.

The view from inside each plane is distinct. The nimble Fokker Dr. I is a real pain in the ass when you realize how much of your viewing area is obscured by it’s triple wings, but the D.H. 2’s wide open viewing area is a breath of fresh air. The cockpits themselves are just this side of acceptable: the numbers on the gauges are readable enough, but the directions on the compass are especially garbled. A targeting reticule would have been a welcome option.

The same can’t be said for the virtual cockpits – 3D, texture-mapped versions of their sprite-based counterparts. The instruments are garbled and much too hard to read. The padlock view is also troublesome. It serves as an instant IFF system that distinguishes friendly planes from enemy planes at ridiculous distances, with no options to cycle through ranges or single out wingmen: the padlock treats a nearby enemy fighter and a scout hundreds of yards out with equal regard.

Snap108_1The flight model is fun to play but doesn’t always simulate the experience accurately. These World War I planes are practically impervious to the spins that killed so many pilots. Roll rates are much too fast as well. There’s almost nothing in the way these planes handle that suggests the delicate, quirky, temperamental box kites with lawn-mower motors that were used as aircraft back then. If Sierra was chomping at the bit to model World War II fighters, they should have just gone ahead and done it in a World War II sim. For a WWI sim, however, it just doesn’t cut it.


System Requirements: Pentium 133 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95

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