Serious sims have always seemed to be a bit of a niche market in PC gaming, the emphasis being more on a cerebral challenge without the visuals to back up the mechanics. It’s only recently that graphics hardware has reached the stage where gameworlds can be realistically rendered at decent framerates with beautiful lighting, detailed 3D objects, volumetric particles, HDR effects, and realtime physics calculations. Then there’s the new peripherals: hi-res flatscreens, touchscreens, multi-monitor support, head tracking devices, and premium-quality programmable joysticks. Perhaps that’s why DCS world, the most hardcore of hardcore sims, is enjoying a surge of success despite (or perhaps because of) its intimidating detail and painstaking authenticity – the sim gameworld actually looks good, works well (e.g. weather, aerodynamic, airframe and gravity physics) so you don’t have to imagine a beautiful gameworld behind the instruments any more – it’s right there, all around you. Read the rest of this entry »
Category Archives: The Library
A strange thing happened to simulators recently. The very term ‘simulator’ as applied to gaming always used to represent a hardcore gaming experience: flight sims required you to master an intimidating array of avionics, navigation techniques, weapons systems and aeronautical theory; sub sims were the only time I ever needed to actually use my schoolboy trigonometry, and economic sims taught me sympathy for politicians and civil servants as I flailed in the heavy seas of conflicting demands, inadequate resources, and spiralling costs. The payback of course, was the opportunity to experience, albeit in a superficial way, a variety of aspirational jobs & lifestyles beyond the reach of ordinary Joes like me, with the associated reward of deep satisfaction that rising to a difficult challenge provides. Plus there was the variety – I’m pretty sure no fighter pilot ever went on to command a nuclear attack submarine, before retiring from the services to maintain the plumbing infrastructure of a major city. Read the rest of this entry »
We were in trouble. We’d been ambushed, and our team was down, deep in the rugged interior of Stratis. Red was playing a medic, and called out over comms that he was on his way from base in a Hunter Jeep. He was also reporting some fairly serious, but sporadic lag.
Red has a solid rep as a medic. He’s pulled many a fireteam’s chestnuts out of the fire when things have gone South in a heartbeat, as they often do in ARMA. We knew he was on his way, and we waited patiently. Then a yelp and an expletive came over the comms. Red, are you OK? Read the rest of this entry »
The grand & glorious conceit of the ARMA concept has always been about potential: a huge, seamless gameworld which reduces players to the scale of ants on a football pitch, albeit soldier ants with APCs, tanks, attack helicopters and a seemingly endless arsenal of mystifyingly-named infantry weapons & ordnance, all wrapped & presented in one of the most obtuse yet functionally rich interfaces in gaming. Get past this, and you then have to contend with punishingly competent AI who can shred a gaggle of CoD-raised run & gunners in a New York minute. This game needs skill, patience, teamwork, communication, stamina, and a bit of luck. Oh dear. Read the rest of this entry »
Seeing as most of our SupCom games are a frantic, sweaty frenzy of scrabbling to survive, the cognitive demands of the endgame have generally resulted in rather messy conclusions so far. Red & I decided to set up some test games, using easier opponents than our usual fine-tuned AIs, and give ourselves the breathing space to explore the advanced experimental units, and strategies for deploying them. We set up on a 4×4 map with the two of us against 2 easy and 1 normal AI, and whilst things didn’t go quite according to plan, it was nevertheless, epic. Read the rest of this entry »
When we first started playing Supreme Commander 2 in co-op, we put on our training wheels and went up against easy AI opponents, while we learned the ropes. This didn’t take too long, as SupCom 2 was designed to be more streamlined & accessible than its groundbreaking predecessor. But SupCom2 nails the “easy to learn; hard to master’ paradigm, thanks to the generous smorgasbord of strategic options on offer. The shades of choice between specialising or generalising are multiplied when a few friends are on-side, giving each player a bit more breathing space to develop their order of battle according to their preference. Plus the stroke-beard pre-match consultations and debates add to the fun. Read the rest of this entry »
Vehicle sims have never been mainstream gamer fare, and yet they’ve always been there, right from the original IBM PC, and yet before, back in the mists of 8-bit and 16-bit time, when scenery consisted of a line of aliased jaggy for the horizon, and a miserly sprinkling of tall, thin rectangles topped with isoceles triangles. Hey! Check out that lush pine forest!
I suppose it’s not really surprising that sims are a niche market, appealing to a minority of gamers who savour defeating their enemies with trigonometry as much as twitch, mechanical engineering and acoustic propagation theory as much as circle-strafing, and which generate as big a pile of empty cartridge cases in printing off the manual as they do in firing the guns.
As PC tech has moved on, so has the flight sim. And yet it’s ironic that one of the most modern air combat sims on the market today goes right back to the first ever air conflict – World War I. I’m talking about Rise of Flight, which has recently gone free-to-play.