January 16, 2006
Over Flanders Fields
"Beer Camel" Putze
have been reading recent SimHq News, or spent any time in
our forums lately, you probably already know something about
a new add-on for Microsoft's Combat Flight Simulator 3 called
Over Flanders Fields. (Also known as 'OFF'). For those that
haven't heard, it is a free World War 1 addition to Microsoft's
last attempt at air combat simulation. OFF is good news for
gamers, and WW1 aficionados in particular, because so far
it seems to be a pretty noticeable improvement to the original
game. The reason for my caveat 'so far' is because OFF is
still very much a work in progress; much still needs to be
done, and there are some pretty stringent limitations associated
with the CFS 3 'engine'. Nevertheless, what I see in 'Phase
1' is exciting. I expect more WW I sim 'goodness' in the form
of new aircraft, skins, historical missions and campaigns
available to the community in the near future.
a significant change to the original CFS 3 sim in numerous
ways, hence I am hesitant to call this just an 'add-on'. Its
really almost a completely new game based on the CFS 3 engine.
Another notable fact: OFF is free!
A product built and
distributed by dedicated members of the CFS 3 enthusiast community,
not a commercial endeavor created by a staff of full time
programmers! Since this is still CFS 3, albeit with many changes,
I think its appropriate to recommend a review of my original
CFS 3 evaluation here.
This article will explain in more depth and detail some the
assets and liabilities existent in the original Microsoft
game that are still applicable to OFF.
first major obstacle potential OFF players must overcome is
acquiring the software. It's only available as a download from
the developer's website. Downloading my copy was a real challenge
due to traffic volume, slow file transfer rates, and the 600
MB size of the original installation file. I experienced several
'stalled' downloads and it took four tries to get a good,
uncorrupted file (No
I DIDN'T use a download utility
as was recommended on the OFF web site!). If you are not lucky
enough to have broadband.. well
you'll likely face a
much bigger challenge than I did.
was error-free, but I carefully followed the accompanying
instructions; initially, I was concerned because of various
problems I read about in the SimHq forums. Installation of
OFF can be problematic, but if you can follow instructions
everything should be fine. I highly recommend careful review
of the 'Read me' and FAQ BEFORE installing. If problems are
encountered there is plenty of help available between the
documentation, the website and various online forums.
hardware configuration took several tries before I found it
acceptable, it's just as 'finicky' to optimize as OFF's parent
game CFS 3. I had several minor issues initially; 'stutter'
being the most serious one, but a few trips to the forums
provided the solution for it and the other minor problems
I encountered. Game options were a bit confusing; I didn't
find them as intuitive as other games, but I managed my way
through with reference to the aforementioned information sources.
They aren't unacceptable, just a bit unusual.
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