Secret Weapons over Normandy for Xbox, ugh!

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.

The controls you describe sound amazingly similar to the original Air Combat on the PS1, although that game did not have a rudder control at all.

Basic = 60 deg of bank max, auto-leveling, etc.

Advanced = roll all you want, but you aren’t turning unless you pull. And making a level turn was impossible at anything other than EXACTLY 90 deg AOB. Roll to 80 deg and pull and you are climbing like crazy. Roll to 80 deg and do nothing…you will be doing the never-ending knife-edge pass. Ugh. But I liked it because it was the best thing going on a console…8 years ago.

It’s a shame that the controls haven’t evolved since then. IIRC the PC version of the game got slammed for it’s simplicity and “console-like” feel.

An aside…do you do PC flight sims at all? Or strictly console?

I would gladly do PC flight sims, but my current PC won’t handle the graphics of anything that I’d like to buy. I have spent many enjoyable hours playing Microsoft’s Combat Flight Sim on 1 of 6 PCs linked over a LAN. Fantastic fun, loved it.

I’m always leary of buying PC games because I never know how well they’ll run on my machine. I buy lots of console games because they are a known entity.

I understand. I finally upgraded my PC about 6 months ago and went from playing “gee, its a 2D RTS…it’s gotta work!” to “Bring it ON!”

I do have one friend who still plays CFS 1…in fact I have the CD laying around here somewhere as well. We tried the toughest online test of all…flying formation. CFS 1 didn’t do very well, but it could have been my buddy’s computer.

I also gravitated toward the console games when my PC was showing it’s age. Being able to have the latest game (on any platform) is always fun.

Can your PC run BF 1942? I’ve got a server that I rent from EA that my friends and I play on. We mostly just stunt around, but most of it involves flying. Let me know if you’d like to join us!

I haven’t tried BF 1942. I might grab it from EB and see how it goes, they have a good return policy here, don’t like it/doesn’t work properly/finished it in 5 hours? Take it back for an exchange or refund.

I used to play Aces High a little on the net.

Just mucking around stunting suits me too. I used to spend a long time with CFS practicing “airshow routines” in a Spitfire over some strip in the middle of England.

Well, most of the time my server is this:

“Follow me under that bridge!”


“Let’s do it inverted!”

And it just gets ugly after that. It’s all fun though!

By all means send me an e-mail if you get BF 1942 up and running. But please don’t buy the game just based on me; I fly for a living and have a very irregular schedule to say the least (and so do all of my friends). I can’t guarantee that ANYONE will be on my server for days at a time.
But IF you get the game and IF you get it working…let me know! We can do some WWII formation flying! (The physics engine is very basic - it’s not a flight sim at all, but a WWII sim. This can be fun.)

Yes, so do I. I’m also in Australia so along with the irregular schedule, there’s the various different time zones to contend with!

I have a great time with Aces High. It doesn’t require too much of a machine (a P3-700 will be the baseline for Aces High 2) though it does scale well and benefits from a decent graphics card. You need a joystick and benefit massively from a HOTAS - I have a Cougar HOTAS which was rather expensive but the Saitek X45 is cheap and cheerful.

I used up my free trial of Aces High but couldn’t really justify paying the monthly fee. I had fun but really felt the lack of a decent joystick. I also had to have the graphics running at minimum settings to keep it smooth for my ol’ celeron 633. I have been meaning to have another go now that I have broadband.