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Publisher: iEntertainment Network    Genre: Flight Sim
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: 601 @ 300 MHz    RAM: 256 MB

WarBirds III
November 5, 2001 | Tim Morgan

Click to enlarge
The time was about 3:00 in the afternoon. I flew my Ju-52 out of F11, an airfield to the southwest of our target, F27. At about 3 minutes out, I joined up with at least 4 other Ju-52’s, all part of an organized campaign to saturate F27 with paratroopers and reclaim it for the Greens.

“Everyone in a ju52?” the flight lead typed just as flak started to burst around us. This would be the first time today such an attempt had been made. Fw-190’s and F4U’s sliced through our formation, and one or two 52’s took a hit and went down, but when we got to our drop site, there were enough of the planes left to leave us a glimmer of hope. I pressed the Launch button on my joystick, and parachute after parachute floated down over the small town. Looking around, I saw two other lines of white chutes nearby. When the last of the 8 troopers was out, I pitched my plane up to clear the ack-ack umbrella that was put up around us.

Then, we waited. After about 20 seconds, a message appeared over the radio. “Host: F27 has been captured by Green.” We cheered. “WTG” and “oh yeah!” came across over the radio. It was a job well done.

Such is how a typical Warbirds III mission played out. Warbirds began with the concept of online dogfighting. Players would hop into aircraft and take to the skies, piloting fighters and bombers in online battle arenas. Warbirds III marks a fantastic upgrade to the genre, not only delivering graphical and gameplay enhancements, but also introducing an entire new level of strategy to the system.

Warbirds III takes place in a map that looks remarkably similar to Western Europe. Scattered across the map are about 50 airfields. Each airfield is unique in that it has different aircraft and vehicles available, and a different strategic value. And like in the real world, don’t expect to find yourself taking off from a nicely paved asphalt runway at each field. Some are little more than short grass strips.

Airfields can be captured by flying Junkers Ju-52’s in and dropping paratroopers over the field. As of now, the troopers are a little dumb, and it is necessary to completely strip an airfield of defenses if you want a reasonable chance of success. Once an airfield is captured, the team can use it to launch planes and vehicles.

The aircraft in Warbirds III are a joy to fly. Each aircraft has unique handling characteristics: The A6M5 Zero is a nimble turner, the Me-262 is a bear to get off the ground but, with a little bit of care, can achieve markedly high airspeeds, and landing a B-17 with a missing aileron can give even the most seasoned pilot white knuckles. Pilots used to “turning and burning” in sims such as Falcon 4 and F/A-18 Hornet are in for a nasty lesson when they take to the skies in these vintage WWII aircraft: like their real-life counterparts, these planes will stall in a heartbeat. It is highly recommended that players take some time offline to familiarize themselves with a given aircraft’s handling before bringing the bird up over the skies of Europe.

Warbirds III introduces the ground warfare aspect to the online universe. Now players can hop in the driver’s seat of anti-aircraft vehicles and tanks or man their guns. Although support for ground vehicles isn’t as robust as that for airplanes, it’s enough to make vehicles a very important part of the game. Along with the tanks and AAA guns, bombers and a few fighters have room for more than one person. Players can send out requests for gunners and then select other players to fly with. Even if you can’t put together a full compliment of gunners for your B-17, your fellow players can hop from station to station, following a bogie across the sky.


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