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.:: PF review, english version ::.
Monday 30 August 2004

It is most probably since the end of 2002 that it has been decided in Moscow, that the next evolution of Il2 would be the PTO. The work about it did start as soon as Forgotten Battes was released, and is still going on. So here is a little preview of the first year of work, even if the beta we did have access for this article is still far from what will be the final game (and I'm not kidding you). Check-six, being lucky to collaborate a bit with the dev team, we still had a "top-notch" version to comment, and I hope it can give you a better idea of what will be the "baby".
Well, it is useless to add more at this point, we are here to talk about a game, so let's do it. We will start this article from what seems to be the most important step of PF, to me, it's new campaigns generators.

PF is provided with a new generation of Starshoy's DGen and NGen engines, builded to suit more to the new specifications of the new theater. The NGen - multiplayer generator-- will allow you, in the "beyond line of sight" campaigns, to decide by yourself the movement of the Task Forces, and which sectors to scan looking for the ennemy fleet. The NGen nearly become a "game inside the game", and gives to PF multiplayer a nearly ifinite life. Even though we do not reach the levels of the glory of the past: "Carrier Battles" 1942: Pacific Air War, we are heading to the good direction.-
Beside that DGen is also reworked, with an engine now considering victories of one side on another in the campaigns - and we will have the choice of "playing" the history or "changing" it, which is not fool in a theater in which the difference between a victory or a total disaster depend on very events.The non hostorical conflict, would eventually end in a total Japanese victory, if the Imperial navy should remain untouched at midway for example. But if you do not like such changes, no worries, you will be able to "force" the historical aspect of the events.

About the missions, they are big changes also. You can expect missions planned logically one after the others (for ex : reco + strike), and losses taken in account (really noticeable in Carrier battles). I would lie to you, if I was to tell you that everthing will be perfect in the release version (participating in the project, it seems very difficult to me, considering the numbers of evolutions and changes included in the Campaign generator only). But I can bet already on the validty of the concept.
DGen and NGen for sure, are in the heart of PF new potential, and should be a part of what make PF something much more than a simple FB/AEP extension.

Now, about the air operations, do not expect many changes, in procedures or in the behaviour of the AI's.
There will be two main innnovations : carrier operations, of course, and the arrival of the first amphibian plane, the "Rufe" (kind of Zeke with floats =)
So, of course, carrier operations are the tough thing, and carrier landings are really exiting. Setting up your seat a little higher to gain some degrees of visibilty or opening your canopy are really details that make you feel happy ! It is a thing that former CF2 and Rowan's BoB pilots will appreciate. To say the truth, we didnt had the opportunity to practice serious trap landing on warbird since CFS2, and if I still can count, its nearly 4 years ago =) . Of course, there are still many things to set, particullary concerning the approach, but it is really challenging and exiting to catch your first wire, even more when you choose the magnificent "Corsair" for your first ride !
I've been playing "Hellcat", "Out of the Sun", "F/A18-Korea", "Flanker2", "CFS2", "F/A-18 Janes", "DID F/A-18", and "LOCKON" (and I probably forgot some of them), and I can assure you that never carrier landing was so "realistic" and challenging when you talk about feelings. Here, nothing is scrypted, everything is dynamic. From the way you catch the wire to the way you bounce foolishly and end in a great ball of fire.

At the moment the flight models are far to be tuned, and I was told that today's behaviour of the planes will change drastically in the next betas, but you can still scare yourself on a final approach, and if you did not learn that from your previous flight simulations, PF will remind you that it is always better to be too long than too short at landing, even more when you start talking about carrier operations. And that is even more true when you know that flight decks are rolling and pitching. It may conduct to severe touchdowns that will eventually damage your landing gear (or more..). Landing on a carrier isn't easy already, so i can't wait to see what it will be with "final" FM's , and the enormous torque that they should produce on a "go around" for example. Maybe than we will see why the F4U desserve her sinister callsign. Only bad point in my opinion is the probable lack of working elevators on deck, and also the lack of any LSO system- (even more unprobable due to the game limitations). But let's wait for the release version before whinning about it. (for sure, those two details would add a lot to the immersion feeling)

Now, more quickly, we would like to signal you the arrival of the original "air forces" of this theater. It goes from F-4F to B-29, from the Oscar to the Betty. Nearly all planes will make it into the sim. Some important planes as the Nelly are still missing, but you have survived 1 1/2 year in the ETO without Bf-110, so im pretty sure you will be able to survive it. On the ground, a lot of new units appear, those who are specific to the PTO - Japanese tanks and vehicle, but also some infantry-. At the moment they are a bit limited in their tasks an quite static, but it may change. Please notice that dynamic ground objects have now more than a single skill (like AAA) and i'm pretty sure that lots of mission builders will appreciate it. And of course, as you have seen in the various dev updates there are a lot of new artillery, both on ground and sea. (even if the SFP1 levels of details is still not reached, the PF humans not being really detailed.)

Beside all of that, i must warn you. Do not expect a fully new game.. Compared to FB/AEP, flight models and damage models are treated in the same way, the planes burn the same, they bounce the same, tracers are identicals etc etc. You will feel "at home", at least. Remember that PF is a FB/AEP engine evlution, and not a brand new one, like BoB will be. On the other hand, you can expect a more precise damage models for all ships, which will get closer to the one used on the airplanes- But I can't talk much more about this, since this function is still "work in progress".

Because, of course, in the PTO nothing occur without the presence of the fleet. On this side, even if PF respect its contract offering one model of ship for each type and each country, we are still far from the historical variety, or from the choice offered by the old "1942: PAW". And this for sure won't be changed. But this isn't so dramatic after all, and Oleg dev team is working night and day (I hope so =) ) to provide us as many ships as possible. Anyway, it will be totally foolish to try to reproduce the Japanese "Carrier striking force" of Midway for example, as your computer would certainly not be able to handle more than 30 ships plus twice airplanes in a mission.
The missions will be limited by technical reasons to micro engagments, and you won't be able to reproduce the battles in their integrality and complexity (exept if your father is a NASA consultant and you can borrow some computer over there..=) ) And even if, it would certainly work until both airplanes and task forces AAA will start firing.. Than you would have to worry more about your FPS than the wall of Shrapnels surrounding you. We all know that Oleg's team was always concerned about framerate and optimisation, since from the early Il2, so there is nothing to complain about that. It's a simple technical deal. If you want to play aerials peplums with tons of activity, your only solution is to go out there and by 2Gb Ram + the last nvidia or ati product. Life is a bitch =) -

Other changes are to signal: now the IA is "Kamikaze" capable, and this can be set through their flight plan. You can also choose to supply your crew with parachute, or not, and this to simulate some japanese "habits". But most important, you can force the AI to keep radio silence on the waypoints, and break it only at your order, and this in order to remain "stealthy". This promise to be really usefull in multiplayer games, no more spying.
About AI, do not expect majors changes. Its mainly the one from FB/AEP bringed into carrier operations. Still no distictions in between boomzoomers and turn and burners.. which can be sad when you know about PTO assymetrical flying tactics-. But after all it is not that bad, when you think that before Il2, no flight sim was able to handle frontal passes, exept WW2 jane's- Let's also wait BoB for new Ai's-

  Merlin
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- ©2003 Bernard Valencelle 'Benhur' -