I was looking forward to getting this game. I had read the reviews, many of them including a line something like, “flight sim, this is not!”. However, I never quite expected a control system quite as poor as what this game came with.
A little background, I know how to fly an aeroplane, so you could be forgiven for thinking that I might be someone who demands a certain level of simulation in a flying game. Well, I didn’t really think I did, but I guess I must be a “sim fanatic” or something.
I have always been of the opinion that having rudder control on a game was pointless unless it was for taxiing, or to over ride an automatic flight rudder to allow you to yaw the aircraft to get your sights on an enemy aircraft a bit faster. As far as using rudder just to coordinate turns, I think it’s overkill. In real life you do it without thinking and in a game you don’t have any of the sensory input that you’d use to tell what rudder you need.
To me, a true flight sim requires rudder input to coordinate turns and also has realistic stalling, realistic power and speed considerations etc. A non-sim would have automatic rudder to coordinate turns, a very forgiving stalling system, an abundance of power to make the aircraft more forgiving of poor energy management.
This game came with two control modes, “arcade” and “advanced”. I noted that the “advanced” mode had rudder control mapped onto the controller. I thought I’d try “arcade” first, seeing as I normally didn’t like to bother with rudder.
My fears about a true “arcade” control system were realised when I found that rolling the wings made the aircraft roll and turn and that the bank angle was limited so that there was not 360 degrees of freedom in the rolling axis. I found that although I could do a full 360 degree “loop” if I pulled back on the stick, if I stopped the loop while upside down, the aircraft would automatically roll wings level. “I don’t like this” I thought, “no freedom of movement”.
So, I tried the “advanced” mode. Worse. Much worse. Here they seem to be doing the right thing by giving you roll control, and pitch control, through 360 degrees, and a rudder. Unfortunately they have dumbed down the control system by taking away the pesky physics which dictate that an aircraft’s nose drops when the wings are banked unless you pull the nose up a bit. What they seem to have misunderstood is that it is these very quirks of physics which makes the aircraft turn. The way the game works, you roll the wings to 45 degrees angle and let go of the controls and nothing else happens. The aircraft continues along in a straight line maintaining altitude. It will only turn if you bank to 90 degrees an pull back, or if you turn to a lesser angle and use the rudder to make the nose drop, and then pull the nose up to compensate. These guys haven’t made it easier than a flight sim, they’ve made it a lot harder.
Oh well. The game has gone back to Electronics Boutique, and I am now discovering the delights of Colin McRae Rally 04. Excellent game, great mix of arcade and sim, not something that could be said for Secret Weapons over Normandy.