The sequel to Dawn Patrol and one of Rowan's last games, Flying Corps is arguably the best World War I -era sim since Red Baron, and in many ways surpasses even that venerable classic. The PC Gamer review says it all: |
"Flying Corps offers six planes in both instant and campaign-based missions: the German Fokker Tri-plane and Albatross DIII, and the Allied Nieuport 28, Sopwith Camel, Spad, and SE5a. Flight models are strong across the board (see sidebar for more details), and go into areas rarely modeled in sims of this area. The planes just feel right, and flying them on full realism is a true challenge. One thing I didn't care for was the planes being set to full throttle when you entered a new mission: I found this disorienting.
Gamers used to waypoint carats on their HUD will be shocked to find navigation is pretty much by dead reckoning, unless you call up the information panel along the top of the screen. This panel has all relevant information on speed, altitude, heading, required heading, situational awareness, and so on. In one corner, there are even two little bars representing the lift of each wing in terms of color: green is good, red means that wing is stalled.
Because of Flying Corps' sensitive controls, rudder pedals are almost essential. The controls are so well modeled that they almost feel "wrong" to modern sensibilities. The rudder really threw me the first time I flew, but after some maneuvers, I realized that someone had finally gotten it right, or at least tried to approximate the feel.
Graphically, Flying Corps is outstanding, with super-detailed planes, gorgeous colors, wonderful landscapes, and high resolutions. In the campaign game, you can even custom paint your planes and provide nose art. The trade-off is in processor speed. You'll need a monster to run it, and forget about the Win95 mode until some form of 3D card support becomes available in a patch: the game is hopelessly jerky in native Win95. But in DOS, it runs well on a P200, even on higher resolutions and with full details.
Missions run the gamut: ground strikes, patrols, escort runs, balloon busting. But the most prominent is straight-forward dogfighting, with enemies that we found mostly very challenging on harder settings. All planes can drop bombs (an acceptable realism concession made for the sake of gameplay), but I found ground strafing unrealistically effective: guns don't usually blow up large houses.
The viewing modes in the initial release offered a bewildering variety of padlock and external views, and I was never very comfortable with the glitchy padlock. (I'm not a fan of padlock in general, however.) You can smooth-scan around the cockpit, but this is processor-intensive, so Rowan has already issued a patch with quick-look features so you can glance around rapidly. We highly recommend downloading the patch; it's a big help.
In campaign mode, you have a choice of four semi-narrative campaigns: leading the Flying Circus in May 1917, a German pilot in the battle of Cambrai, a British pilot in the 54th Squadron in February 1918, and as American ace Eddie Rickenbacker. You usually get a couple of different planes in the campaigns, and get to plan missions and set up your squadron. The campaign is the weak link in Flying Corps: it's nicely done, with animations and good squadron control, but it feels canned rather than dynamic.
Flying Corps has its problems, but that it can weather these flaws and still leave such a favorable impression speaks volumes for its quality. Rowan seems to be supporting it well, with one patch already out and another due out soon that will feature 3D support and modem play. This is not just something to play while waiting for Red Baron II: it's serious competition. Flaws and all, it is a superb piece of work." Two thumbs up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs