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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.

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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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New Pokémon adventures coming to Nintendo Switch

The Pokémon Company announced two new Pokémon games on the franchise’s 23rd birthday.

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Nintendo announced two new Pokémon games: Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. The games take place in the Galar region, which is an expansive region with diverse environments— an idyllic countryside, contemporary cities, thick forest, and craggy, snow-covered mountains.

The people and the Pokémon who live there work together closely to develop the industries in the region. Fans will have the opportunity to visit various Gyms in the Galar region in their quest to become Champion. They will not be alone, since the newly discovered Pokémon they choose to be their first partner will be by their side.

The announcement was made at Nintendo’s Pokémon Direct online presentation today by Tsunekazu Ishihara, president and CEO of The Pokémon Company.

Ishihara said: “Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are the latest adventures in the Pokémon video game journey that began twenty-three years ago on this day. Since then, Trainers around the world have discovered new Pokémon, engaged in epic battles, and made countless memories along the way. We look forward to continuing this journey by exploring a stunning new region in the Pokémon universe when the games launch later this year on Nintendo Switch.”

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The adventure begins in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield when players choose one of three new Pokémon—Grookey, Scorbunny, or Sobble. Grookey, a Grass-type Chimp Pokémon, is mischievous and full of boundless curiosity. Bursting with energy, Scorbunny, a Fire-type Rabbit Pokémon, is always running about. The stealthy Sobble, a Water-type Water Lizard Pokémon, shoots out attacks as it hides itself in water.

Click here to watch the trailer for the latest Pokémon game.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, developed by Game Freak Inc., will be launching late 2019 exclusively on the Nintendo Switch system.

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Spider-Verse gets mobile AR

8th Wall, Trigger and Amazon Web Services Bring Spider-Man to Life with Mobile Web AR Experience.

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In anticipation of the recently release of Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, last week, 8th Wall and Trigger announced the launch of the film’s Mobile Web AR Experience. The immersive AR camera is built using 8th Wall Web and Amazon Sumerian technology running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is designed to let users interact with Spider-Man in augmented reality (AR) where they can take pictures and share them with friends.

The Spider-Verse Web AR Experience, powered by 8th Wall Web and Amazon Sumerian technology and produced by Trigger, is designed to allow users to easily jump directly into Spider-Man’s AR world on any smartphone, without having to download an app.

“Spider-Man is a perfect match for AR not only because his acrobatic moves and iconic poses lend themselves well to the format, but because he’s one of the most relatable superheroes,” said Rose Phillips, SVP, Digital Marketing at Sony Pictures Entertainment. “We’re excited to collaborate with 8th Wall, Amazon Sumerian and Trigger on Spider-Verse Web AR Experience and bring it to all – and new – Spider-Man fans.”

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, bring their unique sensibilities to a fresh version of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where anyone can wear the mask. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman from a screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman and story by Phil Lord, the producers are Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller and Christina Steinberg.

“The Spider-Verse Web AR Experience demonstrates how established brands can dramatically enrich their customer experiences and better engage with their fans,” said Erik Murphy-Chutorian, CEO at 8th Wall. “Augmented reality allows consumers to dive deeper into the worlds of their favorite products and characters. Sony Pictures has deepened and enriched the Spider-Man experience with the innovative work they’ve produced with Trigger and 8th Wall, and powered by AWS. It’s the perfect example of how AR for the web is the best new medium for brands to make their content come to life while increasing the accessibility and interactivity of their stories.”

“Spider-Man is in our DNA. My team has been a digital developer since the first Spider-Man film and Trigger has been developing AR for Spider-Man properties at Sony Pictures since 2014. We’re excited to continue this longstanding collaboration with this experience for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” says Jason Yim, CEO and Executive Creative Director for Trigger. “We believe Web AR is the final barrier for mass adoption of AR and we are honored to be part of the first large-scale web AR campaign with Sony Pictures, AWS, and 8th Wall as partners. Web AR will not only become the first entry to AR for most audiences, but it will build a foundation of behavior that will lift adoption in social, mobile and head mounted AR.”

“Mobile Web AR is making possible for Sony Pictures to bring people into the world of Spider-Man and engage with the character like never before,” said Kyle Roche, General Manager, Amazon Sumerian, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “Using Amazon Sumerian, the teams at 8th Wall and Trigger were able to deliver an immersive browser based AR experience and do so without any specialized programming or 3D graphics expertise. Together with Sony Pictures, we’re changing the way fans experience their favorite web slinger.”

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