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Dynamix/Sierra * £34.99

Those magnificent men and their flight sims, eh? They go up-tiddly-up-up with every new launch - and the quality goes down-diddly-down, down. Red Baron is Dynamix's latest airborne effort, and unfortunately it's about as airworthy as an Airbus running Spectrum software.

The lush package - another huge block of equatorial rain-forest - contains absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about the First World War, the Baron von Richthoven, and how to make a canvas-coated balsa aeroplane go loopety-loop. But it doesn't explain why on earth (or indeed above it) Red Baron is so tediously SLOW.

Fair enough, with complex 3D graphics, you can't expect frame updates in realtime. But with Red Baron, you practically have to make an appointment to see each screen - and that's with the lowest level of detail selected.

It's a shame, but for all its presentation, Red Baron is a dog. Unless you've got an accelerated Amiga, you'll be screaming at the screen, demanding to know why you can't do anything.

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Wer mit knapp 80 Jahre Verspätung in den ersten Weltkrieg ziehen möchte, hat reichlich Auswahl - kein anderes Szenario ist bei Flugsimulationen derzeit so beliebt! Und der Rote Baron gilt als das anspruchsvollste Fliegeras.

Anspruchsvoll gleich in dreierlei Hinsicht: Einmal war Manfred von Richthofen ja tatsächlich ein Perfektionist, dann ist dieser Dynamix-Simulator ein absolutes High-tech Programm, und schließlich stellt es auch entsprechende Anforderungen an die Hardware. Das war bereits bei der PC-Version so, das Game schrie förmlich nach einem flotten 386er. Und auch die Umsetzung schreit, wenn schon nicht nach einem 3000er, dann zumindest einem 2000er samt Turbokarte, Festplatte und viel, viel Fast-RAM! Wer 1MB Speicher und wenigstens zwei Floppies besitzt, kann es zwar auch mit einem ganz normalen 500er versuchen, aber ob er damit glücklich wird?

Selbst wenn man bei den Grafikdetails auf die niedrigste Stufe geht, bleiben die Kisten lahme Enten - und hübscher wird die Optik dadurch auch nicht gerade.

Aber gehen wir einfach mal davon aus, daß Ihr nur die allerfeinsten Commodore-teile zuhause habt; dann dürft Ihr Euch auch wunderschöne Vektorgrafik, tolle Zwischenbilder und eine unübertroffene Optionsvielfalt freuen!

Weil auf die drei Disks so ziemlich jedes nur vorstellbare Feature zwischen Himmel und Erde gequetscht wurde, seien hier bloß die wichtigsten aufgezählt. Beginnen wir mit dem Realismus: Ladehemmung, Black Outs, limitierte Munitions- und Spritvorräte, funktionsfähige Instrumente, nicht zu vergessen die 28 sehr originalgetreuen Maschinen. Zu den Handlungsmöglichkeiten: Ein Duell mit einem berühmten Fliegeras (z.B. von Richthoffen oder Immelmann) ist ebenso möglich wie Einzelmissionen (Zeppelinjagd, Frontpatrouille, etc.), der Kampf im Geschwader oder eine historische Mission. Und was sich dabei so alles einstellen läßt: Wind, Wolken, Sonnenstand, Flughöhe, Formation und natürlich der Schwierigkeitsgrad!

Man kann wahlweise für die englische oder die deutsche Seite kämpfen, Karriere machen, sich versetzen lassen, Ordnen einheimsen, ja sogar ein "persönliches" Flugzeug darf man sich zulegen. Es gäbe noch etliches mehr zu erzählen, so gibt es Einsätze zu jeder Tages- und Nachtzeit, einen ausgefeilten Missionsrecorder, und wer sich bewährt, wird auch mal von einem Piloten der Gegenseite zum Vergleichskampf herausgefordert. Dazu kommen eine ordentliche Steuerung über Joystick, Maus und Tastatur sowie Marschmusik plus Effekte und nicht zuletzt zwei schöne, dicke Anleitungen (englisch bzw. deutsch).

Wahrhaftig, hier sind die fliegenden Museumstücke alles andere als museal - bleibt zu hoffen, daß Ihr eine "turbomäßig" aufgerüstete Freundin besitzt, um die ganze Herrlichkeit auch wirklich genießen zu können. Andernfalls könnte es durchaus passieren, daß Ihr Euch zu Tode wartet bzw. wechselt... (mm)

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World War I flight 'n' fight simualtions seem to be all the rage these days, what with Cinemaware's ageing Wings on release, MicroProse's Knights Of The Sky and, erm, Red Baron. Well, some of the rage then.

The more direct nature of the era's combat offers tremendous playability possibilities - far more skill and courage was demanded of the pilot than is by today's flying machines - so it's kind of surprising that it's taken this long for it to come into vogue, really.

Dynamix's contribution to the current fad is Red Baron, and it's an undeniably impressive-looking package. Sat snugly alongside the three disks in the box are three double-sided maps, a natty little reference card, and a dirty great ring-bound book detailing the history of the great war, flight in general, missions, medals, tactics, the aircraft, and, of course, the controls and how to play. It really is comprehensive, if perhaps a little dull.

Even so, Red Baron seems to have everything going for it. Or at least, it does until you get round to loading it - and discover that not only are all three disks used before you actually get off the ground, but that once you're in the air you wish you'd never left the box. Far too much time is spent swapping disks and waiting for portions of program to load, resulting in flight that's just too damn slow and unconvincing.

It's not as if Red Baron's without its frills of options though. Among the dozens of facilities on offer are dogfighting a famous ace from history, flying one of many varied missions and embarking on a whole mission-packed career. Almost every worthwhile detail of these single missions can be changed too - things like the opponent's plane type and the mission locations - and there's even the facility of 'video-tape' and edit your performance.

What else? Well, there are plenty of different viewpoints to choose between, which can make for varied 'recordings', plus variable weather conditions and even a sun blind spot. Every possible option you could think of (plus a few that you probably couldn't) is here. Hell, you can even fly simultaneously - every plane in a small squadron of fighters, all at once!

The thing is though, all this is provided you can endure all the waiting around. In effect, all the time and effort spend researching Red Baron and putting it together has been wasted simply because the damn thing's all but unplayable - there's slow and there's slow and then there's Red Baron. Proof once again that the Amiga - or perhaps just American programmers working on the Amiga - can't emulate big PC games.

If you want a simulation of World War I aerial combat, then go for Wings or better still MicroProse's Knights Of The Sky. I don't know for sure if Knights Of The Sky is any more accurate technically, and I don't care either - it's believable enough for me, but, more importantly, it's fun to play.

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Oh dear, you get the feeling you're looking at a slap-dash conversion when you find the Amiga instructions on an additional slip of paper (in this case it was hidden between two maps and passed almost unnoticed), and the shots on the packaging are from the PC version.

As is usual with most flight simulations the presentation in this excellent. The manual is large, and full of stories, biographies and bits of information that no aircraft or military enthusiast should be without. Very little of this has any relevance to the game, and provided you found your Amiga instruction sheet, you can play the game without opening the book.

First impressions on loading were good. There are plenty of menus and options to check out, and you get a digitised picture of each ace pilot plus a short resume of their careers. If diving head-long into the First World War isn;t your idea of relaxed game-playing, you can start off slowly on a training mission or zip about pot-shotting Jerry then hit the escape key before they get a chance to fire back.

There's an awful delay between selecting a mission and it actually loading. Although the graphics are really nice, with the machine running in 32-colour mode, this leads to the slowest handling game I have ever seen. On a high detail level it can run as slow as one frame per second, and even with minimal detail and wire-frame aircraft the game is still too sluggish to be playable.

Likewise there are problems with the sound effects: they're nicely digitised, but the drone of the engine is extremely annoying and cannot be switched off. All of this plays havoc with the Amiga's memory, which restricts the game to one meg machines - and even then there's a warning in the manual that it might have trouble running even with the extra memory.

Naturally you start off as a raw recruit, with no medals, no rank and no handle-bar moustache,. The missions range from relatively easy tasks, such as shooting unarmed observation balloons, to intercepting enemy squadrons. You don't fly alone as you're usually teamed with a squadron of rather unpleasant pilots. Your comrades, when not getting shot down, have a nasty habit of letting you shoot up a plane then diving in at the last minute to claim the kill.

Medals are awarded for valour 'above and beyond the call of duty', which basically means you have to take on a large number of enemy aircraft single handed. As your reputation grows, you can go one-on-one against an enemy ace. These are better than the average pilot, although I found taking out one ace a lot easy than dealing with two normal pilots.

Red Baron has some great points but some awful flaws. The ideas are there, and so are the graphics and sound effects - it's just that the game runs slower than a slug iced to a paving slab.


Contrary to popular belief, a pilot rarely saw a plane during his training period. Instead he would be confined to quarters while he grew, and learned how to maintain his handlebar moustache. A pilot also had to be honourable in victory, which meant he had to show respect, rather than a v-sign, to downed pilots.

The parachute had been around for years by the time the war started. The Germans were first to employ it in an airforce. The Royal Flying Corps, however, went without after its commanders reasoned that bailing out would be tantamount to abandoning government property.

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Dynamix/Sierra/£34.99/Out Now

Dynamix's Red Baron, in its PC incarnation, was the first game to ever score 94 on the ZERO excellent-o-meter. Frankly, it was fab. But what of Amiga owners who fancied a bit of aerial jiggery pokery? Well, there was Cinemaware's Wings - good fun, but not exactly a simulator. Apart from that there wasn't much going - until now, that is. Now we've got MicroProse's Knights Of The Sky (reviewed last issue) and... here it is... Red Baron.

In case you don't know, Red Baron is a flight simulator set in the First World War. Starting from the end of 1915, you get to fly for the German or British air forces in combat over the western front. All the options of the brilliant PC version are here, including dozens of single missions - from challenging an ace to hunting a zeppelin, or pursuing a whole career.

There's also a full replay facility and while flying, you've got full external views at your disposal: look up, look down, chase plane view etc. You can alter all the parameters of the flight model so that the game can be played almost as a shoot 'em up or, on the other, as a complex flight sim complete with rudder, carburettor freezing, sun glare and so on.

You can fly a whole mission from taking off to landing, or you can opt to 'start near the action' and quit out of the mission once you've completed it. One of the beauties of the PC version was the inclusion of maps - maps that actually bore relation to the gameplay. These are in the Amiga version too. You can actually navigate from them, following your progress in relation to landmarks shown in the graphics. Sounds promising, eh? Well let's find out, shall we?

Amiga reviewDavid: In my opinion, Red Baron, stuffed KOTS on PC, but what's the deal on the Amiga? Well, er... um... (Get on with it? Ed.)

Er, okay - in a nutshell, the Red Baron broke my heart. With his lilting Teutonic tones and dashing balding bonce, I... er... sorry, I'll wirte that again. Just like its predecessor, A10- Tank Killer, this is another case of a cracking PC title failing to translate to the Amiga.

It's quite 'in' at the moment to introduce a new techy trade mark, such as Photoscape™ , Rotoscape™ , Virtual Theatre™ etc. Well, if Dynamix had to coin a similar term for its Amiga conversions, I'm afraid it would be Jerk-o-vision™ . To say this game moves at a snail's pace might well upset a lot of snails. The PC version was jerky on our bottom end machine, but you forgave it because of the huge depth of options, user-friendliness and total atmosphere. Turn the Amiga detail down to minimum and non-filled wire-frame graphics throw the atmosphere right out the window.

Dynamix is top notch when it coes to PC flight sims (see Aces Of The Pacific on page 18), but when it comes to the Amiga it should check out its competitor. Lucasfilm isn't going o produce SWOTL on the Amiga, because it knows it can't maintain the speed and quality.

MicroProse has its Amiga and ST conversions written from scratch so that they're more compatible with the hardware. Bearing in mind the speed and graphical quality of similar games available at the moment, I think Red Baron is probably the slowest ever.

It might just be the case that if you've never seen the PC version and you're desperate for a WW1 sim, you may be able to live with the jerkiness of Red Baron, but for me the game is a huge disappointment. Even though Knights Of The Sky (PC) didn't come close to Red Baron (PC), I'd definitely buy Knights Of The Sky (Amiga) before this. (Sob, sob, blubber).