Wings Over Flanders Field started off as a WWI modification called Over Flanders Field for Microsoft CFS3. Over the years, work hasn't stopped and at several stages a new, improved version was sold, which, until recently, took us to WOFF Version 3. Version 3 also had some expansions - DLC yet again adding new planes and features to an already superb sim. Now, what is to be considered the ultimate version of WOFF has been released. WOFF 3 and its expansions have been brought all into one package, as well as the addition of a host of new features and improvements. Wings Over Flanders Field Ultimate Edition is the climax of over ten years of development, and boy does it shine because of it. Come, take to the skies above the Western Front during the Great War. WOFF UE, not just the ultimate version of WOFF, but the ultimate single player flight sim, period!
Those who know me, or if you've been a regular reader of the blog (I thank you) will know I'm a WWI obsessive. Though, for reasons I can't put my finger on, the Eastern Front in WWI doesn't appeal, yet in regards to WWII it's my main area of interest. However, as WOFF UE is only concerned with the Western Front then it's of no consequence. The War has really grabbed me to the point where I devour book after book, mainly memoirs, of those who experienced it from all sides, both on land as well as in the air. WW2 seems more real, tangible, a time that is more easy to relate too. A War that was horrific and actually killed more than WWI yet for some reason WWI is the go to war when you think about the horrors, misery and futility of warfare. Yet, WWI only ended two decades before WWII started and it seems like a different world. Maybe it's the staccato black and white footage which makes it seem more unreal. Then add the horror of new and more deadly ways of killing, coupled with old tactics, then years of living a primitive, underground existence with death a constant companion. Even the wounds you were liable to get caused more brutal, horrific damage to your flesh and bone. A reason for this being the shells in WWI broke up into large, jagged pieces of shrapnel which could cause horrific injuries, whereas in WWII, they fragmented into much smaller pieces, just as lethal, but they wouldn't cause the awful visual damage the larger shrapnel did. Even the ground itself became deadly, with even minor wounds killing the poor chap, with gas gangrene, another horrific way to die, and a cruel one. You think you have what the British called a "Blighty", a minor wound that would get you home for awhile, yet ten or so days later you're dying a horrific, painful death, as gas gangrene takes its course.
Well it's because pretty much everything I mentioned above you'll experience in WOFF UE. From the first planes of the War scrapping it out in the Skies of '15 until the end of the War; it's all here. Choose to enlist for either the British (87 squadrons), German (205 squadrons), French (139 squadrons) or American (23 squadrons). Fly in a Recon or Bomber squadron, each flight praying you aren't about to be prey whilst doggedly sticking to your task. Or join a fighter squadron, to take the enemy on in a duel in the sky. Over 80, yes that's right 80 aircraft you can take to the skies in.
The AI is also another excellent feat the OBD team have managed to pull off. With each iteration it has got better and better, until we have what is easily the best flight sim AI out there. No fight to the death AI here, each pilot has his own skill level, plus moral and fatigue are monitored, which all effects how he flies and can result in him breaking for home when risk outweighs reward. The AI also sticks within the limits of his plane's flight model, and, talking about the flight models, each plane has been researched and tested and I haven't seen any complaints about any of WOFF UE's many flight models in the forums. This has to be a very good sign. WOFF UE, in my opinion, is by far the greatest single-player, combat flight sim that has been released on the PC, finally taking over that top spot for WWI flight sims from The Red Baron, and personally, it takes the top spot for any combat flight sim covering any era.
This is another visual treat WOFF UE has to offer. It also enhances the sort of realism OBD is trying to achieve, with great success in my opinion. Another massive improvement that WOFF has recently acquired is that the high definition planes' skins will now show bullet hole damage etc. which they didn't do. Previously, you had a choice between hi def skins or bullet holes, now you can have both.
As I'm talking about damage, the damage model and the visual effects have yet again been improved for the many aircraft, creating more varied looking and realistic plane damage. For the first time now pilots and observers will slump in their seats if killed. I always breathe a sigh of relief, if I shoot a plane down in flames and notice the pilot is already dead. That's the kind of effect the game has on you, drawing you in to the point of worrying about an AI pilot's death! Previously, before the "slump", you never knew if the pilot was dead or not as he and his plane fell to earth like some sort of grisly comet.
Weather is also modelled. So, as you take off, you could be flying through a snow storm, yet once above the cloud layer, bingo you're bathed in sunshine, with blue sky all around. So as you can tell by now visually it's one hell of a treat. Day and night is modelled is also modelled. Fly as a pilot in a Gotha desperately trying to stay out of the search lights, as they sweep the night sky above London. Or, as the sun has just gone down towards the end of your patrol, you come into land at your airfield in France being guided by the flames lit along either side of the run way.
OBD have done a tremendous amount of research on each squadron, including its aces and at which airfield they were at through out the war. As you can imagine, with the number of squadrons I mentioned earlier, how much work that must have entailed! The squadrons are also rated as either on defence or offence aswell as how good it is, which can change during the War depending on the squadrons circumstances at that particular time. Also, the morale of the squadron as a whole is considered. You can if you wish request a transfer, as well as request leave.
Historically accurate Medals are awarded both to yourself and to your squadron members. Also, just like the War, you have to fill in a claim form when you think you've shot down one of the enemy. On the harder difficulty levels this can be denied, just like it was for the pilots back then. As for options regarding both difficulty and visually the game has plenty to choose from, so you can customise the experience to suit both how you want to play and what sort of rig you have. So the dynamic campaign is fantastic and surpasses all previous WWI flight sims. Play dead is dead difficulty and see how many hours you can do over the Western Front!
Oh little tip when you get the game. Click "Credits". A little treat is waiting for you there.
Go check out the excellent WOFF forum at Sim HQ. Also like to thank the forum members if I've used one of their screenshots.
Note: Also the Skin pack add on is now free for everybody:)