A is for Alphabetised wargame, sim, and site news. Once a month, assuming I can persuade Austerity’s Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier engine to perform the miracle of internal combustion, I spend a day or two scouring Simulatia and Grognardia for stories with the potential to fascinate, startle, cheer, dismay or amuse. Those stories are then dehydrated, alphabetised and delivered, via articles like this one, to people who’ve got better things to do than plough through puff and platitudes.
B is for Bakhmut holds!
Interested in wargaming the conflict in Ukraine? Valentin Lievre’s flawed but likeable Panzer General-like Hex of Steel is half-price at the moment and, suitably modded, will oblige.
C is for Capitalism at work
Attracted by “a business model based on fully-owned IPs and creating recurrent revenues from regular content updates to a passionate and committed community of fans” publishing giant Focus Entertainment has acquired Dovetail Games, the British firm behind Train Sim World, Train Simulator, and those fishing games. Fingers-crossed the buy-out will lead to improvements in DTG’s less than stellar quality assurance.
D is for Derussification
There’s a sad lack of Ladas, Bukhanki, KTM-5s, and plinthed T-34s in the above vid, and I fear ongoing Russian imperialism is to blame. For me, one of City Car Driving’s most appealing qualities was that it combined automotive realism with a fairly strong sense of place. Unfortunately, Novosibirsk-based Forward Development seem to be aiming for a much more generic environment this time.
E is for Egyptian eyeful
The cream of DK2’s official and unofficial mapmakers now have the tools and experience to produce some really cracking mission spaces. Along with play aids like a handy toggleable team monitor, the ‘May Intermediary Update’ added some splendid examples of the cartographer’s art. None of the additions were as eye-catching/extraordinary as user-made maps such as the pyramid-endowed All Good Things – Palace, but all provide top-notch tactical entertainment.
F is for Falcon fairytale
Falcon 5.0 went from ‘pie in the sky’ to ‘distinct possibility’ last week when Microprose announced that they had reacquired the rights to one of Simulatia’s crown jewels. The surprise news might have produced alarm in the Falcon 4.0 modding community if it hadn’t come with this reassuring footnote: “We also want to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work that the Benchmark Sims team has done with their BMS mod. We recognize the passion and dedication that they have brought to the Falcon community, and we are committed to fully supporting their efforts in any way possible.”
G is for Ground of Aces
As WW2 airbase management games aren’t exactly two-a-penny I’m hoping this time next year my abiding memories of Ground of Aces aren’t its ridiculously short/singular, tree-hemmed runways, and absent blast pens, hardstands, and peri-tracks. Blindflug’s back catalogue suggests the studio know a thing or two about crafting compelling light strategy games, but there’s no evidence they can captivate fussy historophiles like me.
H is for Here be kiwis
Rolling Line has a new official layout and it’s a whopper/stunner. Based on New Zealand’s Tonariro National Park, and dotted with appropriate landmarks, the free ‘National Park’ looks fab whether you’re standing next to it controller in hand, or viewing it through the windscreen of a moving model loco or car.
I is for Imminent trequel
Eighty-year campaigns… jet aircraft… guided missiles… enriched ASW… new regions and AI nations… improved AI… trait-blessed naval officers… Rule the Waves 3 (ETA May 18) might look disappointingly similar to its dowdy predecessor, but laurel resting really isn’t Naval Warfare Simulation’s style.
J is for Junked Jake
The latest Task Force Admiral vid provides a tantalising glimpse of the air tasking UI, and reveals that DDG still have AI coding to do. Although the Jake bore a passing resemblance to its German contemporary, the Arado Ar 196, it was noticably superior, boasting a higher top speed (376 km/h vs 332 km/h) and much longer range (2089 km vs 1080 km). Interestingly, the two types cohabited for a spell at the Kriegsmarine base in Penang.
K is for Kraft Kalashnikovs
GameHunters, the makers of the gratis Gunsmith Simulator: Prologue, realise that not everyone interested in dismantling and mantling virtual firearms wants to work in a characterless CAD-style environment. Do they, I wonder, have the determination, resources, and skills necessary to build an armoury as impressive as the one currently available in ten-year-old rival World of Guns?
L is for Limited appeal
Based on the couple of hours I’ve spent with it so far, I can’t see AccuRC 2 replacing Aerofly RC as my model aircraft sim of choice. Perhaps if I was passionate about radio-controlled whirlybirds I might feel differently. The enthusiastic forum comments and Steam reviews it has generated show some prioritise truthful heli FMs over superlative photo-sceneries or a generous selection of fixed-wing flyables.
M is for Memorable maps?
Red Glare, an upcoming Commandos-like from one-man outfit BT Studios, won’t, I suspect, be found wanting in the tactical freedom department. Whether it will manage to furnish players with slaygrounds anywhere near as memorable as ‘White Death’, ‘Savo Island’, and ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ remains to be seen. The generic container-strewn bases that dominate the Steam screenshots don’t fill me with hope.
N is for Naturalistic aerodynes
A point-mass flight model based on this paper should ensure aircraft in upcoming turnless wargame Sea Power behave like aircraft rather than waypointed UFOs. Because Dr Lesley A. Weitz’s CPU-kind equations utilize BADA data, and factor in things like air pressure and temperature, and wind strength and direction, flight times and manoeuvres should be plausible, and situations that produce contrails, engine smoke, and tip vortices in real life should do the same in-game.
O is for On silent wings
Exciting news for anyone fascinated by WW2 glider ops. IL-2 Sturmovik: BoS (heavily discounted at present) should have pilotable Wacos/Hadrians by the end of the year. There’s a preserved Waco not far from THC HQ and every time I see it I’m struck by its flimsiness. The delicate tubular metal frame and thin canvas skin look better suited to keeping cub scouts dry than carrying heavily armed soldiers into battle.
P is for Ponder pretty potsherds
Fifteen minutes ago this handsome 17th Century apothecary vase was in 54 pieces. The demo that encouraged me to assemble it includes two other fragmented antiques and has left me daydreaming about an archaeology sim I’ve been yearning to play for decades. Surely one day soon a dev will use actual archaeological plans and 3D artefact scans to construct a reality based first-person archaeology-em-up. Imagine the thrill of unearthing relics unseen and untouched for millennia – relics deposited or dropped by people long gone not artful 21st Century level designers.
Q is for Quick cigarette card
The first de Havilland Comets weren’t innovative jet airliners with catastrophic teething issues. Designed for speed and endurance, the five DH.88 Comets dominated long-distance air racing in the mid to late Thirties, and were important antecedents of the Wooden Wonder. G-ACSS, the machine pictured on card #9 in John Player & Sons’ 1935 set ‘AEROPLANES (CIVIL)’ still takes to the air occasionally.
R is for Rapid Red advances
Due to arrive next Thursday, Unity of Command II’s fifth add-on is a $7 Eastern Front affair in which the player is tasked with liberating millions of hectares of the southern Soviet Union. In theory slow progress and stalemates should be rare. During the period covered by the eleven scenarios (November 1942 to February 1943) the real Red Army advanced at a rate of around 7-10 kilometres a day.
S is for Solid snooker sim?
Can anyone recommend a good PC snooker sim? After watching TV coverage of this year’s World Seniors Championship I got a powerful urge to pick up a polygonal cue. Snooker 19 tempted until I read about the bugs and ‘easy AI’ opponents scoring 100+ breaks.
T is for Tarted-up tactics titles
Expect a Friday Feature devoted to one or more of the uncommonly intimate* Squad Battles titles in the near future. Industrious Wargame Design Studio has just completed a deep overhaul of Advance of the Reich, Red Victory, and Winter War. The threesome now boast new UIs, graphics, and capabilities.
* “When, in between the usual business of moving and firing, you find yourself telling a nervous squad to hurl a smoke grenade, scavenge a dropped weapon, or don gasmasks, the game feels as close to Silent Storm or Men of War as Combat Mission or Close Combat.” (Yours truly writing about Squad Battles: First World War a few years ago)
U is for Unreal Engine 5-powered Unrecord looks unbelievably believable
V is for Victory at Sea Ironclad
Although “exciting” isn’t the first – or indeed the second – word that pops into my head when I think of American Civil War naval engagements, I guess it’s theoretically possible that Victory at Sea Ironclad’s Steam blurb is accurate and Evil Twins Artwork have somehow managed to fashion a genuinely exciting wet ACW wargame. The titles that this £30 newcomer most resembles are ridiculously cheap at present which probably isn’t going to help its sales.
W is for We. The Refugees
Demo-equipped and (partially) EU funded, We. The Refugees: Ticket to Europe looks a little text-heavy for my taste (“Thousands of dialogue choices!”). However an intriguing premise and appealing art means it has a fighting chance of appearing in a future 3×3.
X is for Xtremely unexpected
1985 analogue wargame World in Flames is held in such high esteem by fans of monster board wargames that Matrix were prepared to charge £83 for the AI-less PC port they released in 2013. Any hope that silicon opponents might eventually find their way into this heavyweight WW2 globe-girdler via patches faded years ago. A decade after its debut almost no-one was expecting a forum post like this one.
Y is for Y not advertise on THC
As the intrusive ads that blight most other gaming sites bring me out in a rash, but THC still isn’t paying its way, I’ve decided to convert the flanks of the Corner’s masthead into bi-colour billboards. If you’d like to rent one of these billboards (they’re available in three sizes – 98 x 98 pixels (nine tile) , 98 x 65 pixels (six tile), or 98 x 32 pixels (three tile) at very reasonable rates) for a spell to publicise your game, book, beer, toy, chocolate bar, charity, or whatever, contact me (tim at tallyhocorner dot com) for further details.
Z is for Zippier than before
Likely to secure one of the slots in the next 3×3, Early Access City Bus Manager received a welcome shot in the arm yesterday. Load times have been slashed, average framerates increased by 33%, and vast 40km x 40km networks made possible in Phillip and Niklas Polster’s OpenStreetMap-utilising offering.
I purchased World in Flames ten years ago from Matrix. I even sprung for the three hardback manuals. Most expensive game I ever purchased. I didn’t think I’d live long enough, I am 66, to see AI, if it ever came at all. Thrilled at this news!
While not specifically snooker, Virtual Pool 4 remains still the best hit balls with a stick sim. It has good physics simulation and still receives odd patch here and there. It has rules for pretty much every game possible from pool to snooker. Also the mouse control is quite simple and feels pretty good and right.
Downside is lack of any kind of license, hence no real players or tournaments, and lacking presentation. Although it still looks quite good graphically.
Snooker 19 is decent, but indeed, once you get used to the controls the AI is a bit lacking. But it has a good career mode and will offer a challenge for few games. And real world license for those who care about it.
Thanks for the recommendation. VP4 is downloading as I type this.
I’ve not tried VP4. I was probably deterred by Pool Nation, a perfectly good game that’s well made but just didn’t hook me.
I did (and still do) like Snooker 19, it hit that sweet spot for me of visuals, playability and difficulty. But my maximum break in real life is a clearance from the green, which is only two balls short of my most-balls-in-a-break too, so I perhaps welcome snooker games that let me hit century breaks.
Interesting, what mod does HoS use for Ukraine?
Also, separate thought – I’d love to see a 3X3 or full-up review of RTW3. Usually the 1988-era graphics would turn me off (and I’m usually pretty charitable when it comes to visuals, but RTW is borderline ridiculous), but it seems so feature-rich that I’m really fascinated by it.
Mod link added.
At the very least RTW3 will get a 3×3 slot.
Glad to see Rolling Line included the Makatote Viaduct, although the in-game rendition lacks the austere functional simplicity that helps make it an impressive sight in person.
As a EU-taxpayer, I am delighted to see that my money is used to fund a propaganda-laden video game on migrants. I really am.
Act Zero claim they aren’t in the propaganda business. From the game’s FAQ:
“So you’ve created a piece of propaganda and now you’re afraid of criticism?
No. In the game you can meet various characters who show different views on refugees. You can agree with them or not. Making these types of choices – and confronting the player with multiple perspectives on a given subject – is actually the main mechanic and keynote of the game. It’s written in the DNA of “We. The Refugees” already at the level of the idea for the game. After all, the player takes the role of a journalist who is doing research on refugees and we really wanted not to force players to react emotionally to the presented content. This is one of the reasons why a single playthrough of the game takes about 10 hours, but there is more than 30 hours of content in the game! We create so many branching narratives, because we leave players a lot of freedom in terms of their attitude to the presented topic. You can both show empathy towards refugees, or maintain a neutral observer’s reserve, or even have a cynical attitude towards the challenge facing the player. In the game you can meet NPCs who have a critical attitude towards refugees and – horror of horrors! – even agree with their perspective as a player. Or not. You are a journalist, you meet people and talk to them about their stories and experiences. It’s up to you what you think about their attitude. We probably won’t convince the unconvinced anyway, but we encourage you to at least try to form your own opinion based on the content from the game, not on imaginations.”
Assuming it runs on the THC PC, I’ll provide some first impressions of We. The Refugees on Friday.
The game as described could easily explore the plight of refugees by highlighting the risks, dangers and failures they collectively incur, and whether that’s justified by their eventual outcomes.
It could provide clear differentiation between refugees and economic migrants, and how the risk/reward equation varies between them.
There’s scope for a journalist to investigate the point at which a refugee stops fleeing an unsafe environment and starts travelling for economic purposes, the ethics behind that, the justifications used and whether the plight of those having to pay for it is sufficiently factored in.
Then there’s the clear abuse of migrants (refugees and otherwise) by organisations acting with ulterior motives, whether those are low-cost labour, fragmenting social cohesion or attempting to stop societal collapse due to recession and an aging population.
So it’s a rich topic space for a journalism game, and only a cynic would think it’s a propaganda laden promotion of EU policies.
(Yes, I am a cynic. Also, full disclosure: I am a refugee.)
Not sure how you suppose the game is planning to accomplish that. It is kind of difficult to create unambigious propaganda for `EU policies` if there is no such thing as a universally adopted EU policy on migration. Even if we disregard how widely policy implementation traditionally varies and what a broad spectrum the discussion of the whole bundle of mashed-together topics by state, media, academia and a variety of other, non-govermental actors across all member-states covers.
Surely, a specific point of view can be portrayed as more positive than another, but calling it `EU propaganda` and thinking to have proven some point is not cutting the mustard.
But let us assume this could and would be the case. It turns out to be monolithic, unapologetic propaganda for exactly the viewpoint you so ardently wanted us to know that you disagree with.
Why dismiss propaganda? There is a lot of value in it. You can learn alot just by noting what bears mentioning and what factors do not.
Let´s take Mr Konashenkov, for example, whose employer I, for my part, strongly, disagree with. It is illuminating just to take note of how much time he spends on speaking about the Wagner Group or Bakhmut in contrast to how much detail you get to hear about his beloved airforces.
(Which, apparently, is the only force on the planet capable enough not only to destroy every single one of its opponents´ air frames in existance, but managing to do so twice.)
But chances are, we are overthinking our responses. You wanted to tell us that you feel aggrieved because a portion of EU funds did find its way into a game which you suspect of not being agreeable. And you did. Noted.