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Join a Flying Circus with Red Baron 3-D

This World War One flight simulator comes out tops for historical authenticity and gameplay, but loses the battle on the graphics front. Graeme “Ace” Adamson has the details.

By Graeme Adamson (claymore@iname.com)

Dynamix, now a division of Sierra, first shipped Red Baron, a World War One flight simulator, several years ago. It was (rightly) acclaimed for groundbreaking graphics, and a very realistic flight engine, complete with gun jams and structural failures. But when Red Baron 2 was released, it didn’t make much impact.

Now Dynamix have released Red Baron 3-D, with new 3D acceleration. In actual fact, it’s simply Red Baron 2 with a 3D patch that provides the 3D capabilities and some fixes, such as better artificial intelligence for enemy pilots. For those of you who already own Red Baron 2, there’s no need to buy Red Baron 3-D, since the complete update is available on the Red Baron web site.

Let’s see how many kills Red Baron 3-D (RB3D) scores on the Gadget Four Question User Test.

1. Is it ready to use?

Like most Windows 95 games, RB3D installs very easily, and sets itself up, complete with a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl-Alt-B that may catch you unawares. One negative point is that you have to have the RB3D CD in your CD-ROM drive to play the game, which is rather annoying.

2. Is it easy to use?

The flight simulator itself is easy to get into. The nicely designed intro screens and menus make it easy to set options, and choose whether to fly a campaign or just a single flight.

One of the best things about RB3D is the manual, which comes with a lot of very interesting historical information on the First World War – aces, combat situations, tactics, and awards and decorations. Unfortunately, the manual is littered with typographical errors, primarily in headings. The font used for headings doesn’t seem to have any punctuation symbols or accented characters, which makes for some disappointing errors.

3. Does it work as advertised?

Unfortunately, RB3D crashes and burns in the area it emphasises: the “3-D”. Although a great deal is made of the fact that it now supports 3D acceleration, it actually only supports the Voodoo 3D accelerator chips from 3DFX. While Voodoo-based cards are reasonably well known, it means that people who have bought any of the new generation of 3D accelerator cards can’t take advantage of RB3D’s acceleration. This is somewhat ludicrous: I have what is generally considered to be the best 3D-accelerated video card available, the Riva TNT-based Diamond Viper V550, and Red Baron 3-D runs in 2D mode.

Red Baron 3-D’s 2D mode, while not bad for a couple of years ago, looks awful now: polygon-shaped mountains, vague ground, and a boring sky. The terrible-looking propeller graphic obscures your view most of the time. Although the 2D mode supports resolutions from 640×480 to 1024×768, there’s no real difference, with jagged graphics even at 1024×768. Judging from the screenshots on the Red Baron web site, the 3D mode is OK, but not quite in the same league as Microsoft’s Combat Flight Simulator.

In terms of gameplay, RB3D is excellent. The sound is good, including subtle effects like the thrumming of bracing wires on your biplane, and the peculiar characteristics of the various aircraft are supported, like the ripping torque of the Sopwith Camel or the rapid dive of the Spad XIII. With all the things that can go wrong — gun jams, blackouts, red-outs (from blood loss), structural failures, engine failures, etc — becoming an ace in a campaign is quite a challenge, especially if you meet one of the top aces along the way.

4. Is it value for money?

The inexcusable lack of support for DirectX-supporting video cards makes RB3D poor value for money if you don’t have a Voodoo card, and you might be better advised to buy something like Flying Corps instead.

But if you like World War One flight simulators, and have a Voodoo-based 3D accelerator, the R300 price of Red Baron 3-D is good value for money, especially since the gameplay and historical accuracy is top notch.

* Are you an ace Red Baron pilot? Did you also find the graphics disappointing? In gung-ho South Africa, are combat games good preparation for braving the mugger-infested streets? E-mail us with your views: roy.blumenthal@pixie.co.za

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Warriors of Waterdeep RPG gets mobile launch

Top game developer Ludia has announced the global launch of Warriors of Waterdeep, a mobile turn-based RPG game, based on the ever-popular Dungeons & Dragons franchise for the App Store and Google Play Store. This release marks the first partnership between Ludia and Wizards of The Coast, leaders in fantasy role-playing games.

In Warriors of Waterdeep, players will need to summon a team of heroes as the great city of Waterdeep is threatened by powerful dark forces. Players will need to take their heroes into battle against monsters from the Forgotten Realms in tactical, turn-based combat. Level up and upgrade your heroes with free daily chests, and win rewards in exciting limited-time events.

“We are excited to bring the Dungeons & Dragons experience to mobile devices,” said Alex Thabet, CEO of Ludia. “We believe fans of the franchise will find Warriors of Waterdeep stays true to the spirit of Dungeons & Dragons with challenging storylines and innovative turn-based gameplay.”

Warriors of Waterdeep will launch with a real-time Player-vs-Player (PvP) mode. Take on teams of four in order to earn trophies, collect rewards and unlock new arenas. Rewards improve with every arena level up, to further improve your team of heroes.

Warriors of Waterdeep is now available to download for free, with in-app purchases, on the App Store and Google Play Store.

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Bixby brings AI shopping to SA

Samsung has announced a strategic partnership with visual search provider Syte to power the first visual AI marketplace within Samsung devices.  Syte’s AI technology will power Bixby Vision’s Shopping Assistant, enabling users to browse and shop visually similar products directly from their camera and through a gallery of similar products. Outlets that will be enabled on devices include Superbalist, Zando, Cotton On, Wantitall, Homechoice and Bid or Buy.

“South Africa has enthusiastic consumers that expect engaging and convenient experiences that fit their lifestyle. We, therefore, decided to expand our partnership with Syte so our devices deliver just that,” says Justin Hume, director of Integrated Mobility at Samsung South Africa. “With visual search, South Africans can shop with ease, and connect better with their favourite retailers and brands and vice versa.”

Syte retail clients will populate the shopping results, which means access to purchase-ready traffic to retailers. Samsung says it aims to create the first visual AI ecosystem, where real-life inspiration leads directly to product discovery and purchase. The retailers that appear on the shoppable feed will create a consistent experience, from snapping a picture through to check-out.

“Our partnership with Samsung and its expansion to South Africa are meaningful achievements for us,” said Ofer Fryman, CEO of Syte. “By powering the end-to-end journeys of shoppers, we bring more value and increase the engagement between our retail clients and consumers.”

With Bixby Vision already built into the camera on select Samsung devices, users can translate foreign languages, identify landmarks or businesses to learn more about them and keep track of calories. Samsung says this is all aligned to its greater vision of helping people “Do What You Can’t”.

Supported devices for Bixby Vision and Shopping include Galaxy S10+/S10/ S10e, S9/S9+, Note8/S8/S8+/A7 2018/A5 2018.

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