ONLINE WITH START
Kesmai Air Warrior
By Andrew Reese with Gregg Pearlman
START Editor and Antic Assistant Editor
Flight simulators are nothing new on microcomputers. Probably the third game invented (after Colossal Cave and Pong) was a flight simulator. As computers became more powerful, the simulations improved to the point where now there are several excellent simulators on the ST.
But with the exception of Flight Simulator II, all ST flight simulators share one shortcoming: you fly alone. Your buddies can't fly with--or against you. Even Flight Simulator II only allows fnendly flying; the World War I game is unavailable during two-player mode And Flight Simulator II has one other limitation: only two players can share the skies at once and then only connected locally through the MIDI ports.
ONLINE AND OFF
Kesmai Air Warrior is the first and only online multi-player graphic air combat simulator in existence. Like other Kesmai multi-player games, it is available only on GEnie. Air Warrior (AW) uses a unique system of local graphics and digitized sound with the modem and mainframe used to keep track of what you and everyone else is doing. Graphics info is not sent down the line; thus the screen update rate is "refreshingly" fast.
Getting started in AW requires an investment in connect time. The software for the ST is available to download, but the two files required take more than half an hour to download at 1200 baud. Then you go offline to unARC them and finally go back online through the terminal package in the AW sofware. If you think you're reedy to tackle the hotshots found lurking around AW country, you're wrong. There's an offline training mode that lets you get the feel of various aircraft and get comfortable with the mouse--and keyboard-based controls; use it. And don't go online until you can take off, fly and land in the expert mode. If you try to go online in the beginner mode, you'll die early and often. I know--I did.
|Kesmai's Air Warrior
allows you to fly vintage
World War II fighters
and bombers against
Here, a Corsair readies
ALL TOGETHER NOW
The scenario in AW is based on the concept that three impoverished enemy countries are forced to purchase World War II planes for their air forces. When you enter AW, you choose a country to fly for, a theater of operations to fight in, an airfield to fly from and an airplane to fly (plus about a dozen other variables and toggles). The planes are some of the finest fighters and bombers from WWII. You can choose a Mustang, Zero, Corsair, Spit IX, FW190 and on and on. If you want to pilot or crew a bomber, you can do that, too, although naturally almost everyone wants to be a hot fighter jock.
One of the nicest aspects of AW is that each aircraft has a performance envelope patterned after its prototype. Spitfires and Zeros, for example, are super-maneuverable and the big bombers, well, just lumber along. You can also customize your cockpit display and add your own digitized sounds. Unfortunately, the sound slows up the 68000 to the extent that serious dogfighting is better done in silence. At least there's a sound toggle. And the graphics? Well, they're not too hot. But when you think of what is going on with up to 41 planes in a theater at one time, the graphics are not that bad. Besides, I never had time to gawk at them anyway.
INTO THE SKIES
My first sortie in AW was a disaster. I must admit that I hadn't read the manual completely, just skimmed it like everyone else does. So I went up the first time in a Corsair in beginner mode, fighting for the flag of good old Country C. Unfortunately, beginner mode does not allow inverted flight, loops, rolls, Immelmans, Split-Ss, spins or any of the other common tactics necessary to survive in a dogfight. So I was easy prey for any of those dastardly Country A and B blokes who happened by.
Then I discovered Expert mode and things changed for the better. I became, if not the scourge of Theater 1, at least not a patsy for every Ace looking to better his rank. The controls are more comfortable now and I can do a wingover, snap roll, axial roll and lots of other fun aerobatics. And as soon as the deadline for this column is past, I'm going to go back up in the skies and make the world of Kesmai safe for GEnie-bill-fearing Americans. I dread the bill, but what price freedom?
GEnie (General Electric Network for Information Exchange), General Electric Information Services Co., 401 N. Washington Street, Rockville, MD 20850, voice phone (800) 638-9636.