Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Game 5: Catacomb 3D

The tale of a valiant wizard who goes to defeat his evil nemesis. I would say that's a bit cliche, but full-fledged wizards doing things on their isn't really a common plot in most stories I've seen. Usually they're relegated to the side plot. I guess Earthsea partially involves a plot like this, but it is amazing that what should be a general plot is almost never used. Catacomb 3D is this shoulda be generic plot. You are the wizard Petton Everhail, and your evil nemesis is Grelminar. Your nemesis has captured the "Nemesis of Kelquest". I think we can safely say the Greek gods are not real in this game's universe. I also recall that Nemesis is an antagonist in later games.

There are sourceports, but DOSbox works fine.

Like Commander Keen 4&5, there's a little pong game on the main menu. Because I am not a fun person I will not be playing this game. Catacomb features three difficulty settings, labeled like ordinary difficulty settings. I'll be playing this on medium, because I don't want to get stabbed in the back too many times.

The first level uses a track from Commander Keen 4. This track will go on so long that I suspect it is the only song. I like a little mood music, but this track has about four bars repeated endlessly. It was fine in Commander Keen, but here I have to listen to it for like thirty minutes. This is not good. I've complained about other games reusing music, but in this case it is unacceptable. As to the interface, we have our little items at the bottom, our portrait/health bar to the right, and our shot power. Which gradually rise until it is in the form of a nuclear blast. We have a compass and a little note above the items. This actually makes navigation easier than Wolfenstein. Rather than having to manually check your map to see where you are in a sea of identical corridors, you have a little description to help you find out where you are. You can remember that so you know when you're near where you need to go. In theory.

Item-wise you have scrolls, which tell you about things I don't believe I encountered, in addition to potions you can use at any time, which makes this game easier than other FPS of the era, since a level you do well on will result in more health later on.

You have four weapons effectively. A single shot, which doesn't do much damage. A charged shot, which doesn't do enough damage. A bolt, or rapid fire item. A nuke, or shot in all directions. With exception to the charged shot, everything was more or less useful. I never really used them because I only had two for much of the game. 3/10

You have a small variety of enemies. Bats, which are easy to kill; The trolls, which we previously saw as mutants in Hovertank; Orcs, which are kinda there; Demons, who are reskins of trolls and take a million missiles to kill. There's Grelminar, who is a lich and is rather easy for a boss character. He was also in Dangerous Dave. Make of that what you will. 3/10

You have Nemesis. One guy on the last level. 0/10

The way the game is set up makes it less annoying to navigate than other flat FPS games. The descriptions usually give you a better sense of where you are. I said usually, sometimes there are giant hallways with the description "White Hallways" for half of a level. There's some interesting stuff I think. You have the first hub, beating out Hexen and Strife for first FPS to have a hub level. Sometimes they're sneaky and start you with just enough time to turn around and kill an enemy that saw you as you entered. I in particular liked the one area called "Room of the Recently Dead" which had blood all over the walls. The secrets though, eh, they're not easy to pick up on. The one secret level I found wasn't anything special. 6/10

Player Agency:
I complained of tank controls in Hovertank 3D. There's not really any difference here. Your afterburner is replaced by sidestepping. 3/10

You can shoot the walls. That's neat, isn't it? That won't come back in a major FPS until Duke! 1/10

I'm not really getting a distinct atmosphere from this. Its like, eh, you're a wizard now, kill some orcs, trolls and demons. Now you're in some kind of tar pit and now you're in Hell. 2/10

I feel like every pre-Doom iD game I see is just stuffed to the brim with reused textures. I'm pretty sure some of this stuff was touched up for Wolfenstein. I'm also pretty sure I've seen some of the other wall textures in another game. 4/10

There's nothing much to it beyond the scrolls you find. Eh. 1/10

No. You don't get anything for this category. I listened to the same musical track for the entire playing time. The sound design is lackluster. The bumping sound against walls sounds like farting. Oddly, this was also taken from Commander Keen. I keep hearing sounds from that. How unfortunate. I don't mention it to be funny. If I wanted to be funny I'd make a whole gag about calling him some juvenile name about how gassy he is. The little boops and beeps you get when you shoot things is not enough to make up for that. 0/10

That brings us to a total of 23. 8 points lower than Wolfenstein. That's a bit shocking. I don't really think Wolfenstein is necessarily more fun than Catacomb. I guess if you picked out the best twenty levels from Wolfenstein and played those instead of the entire game that'd make sense. Catacomb doesn't really wear out its welcome. The two hour investment it takes to play this compared to the ten hour investment in Wolfenstein makes this more enjoyable overall.

Final Score: 130900

Friday, July 19, 2019

Game 4: Hovertank 3D

Name:Hovertank 3D

The first game from the boys at iD. Properly speaking, Hovertank 3D is the first FPS in how we think of FPS games. Its not rough around the edges, its just rough. As hard as it is to believe today, using the arrow keys + CTRL wasn't common and having enemies that stay dead instead of coming back was just starting to come into vogue. That's not to say its entirely original, arguably this is just a fancier version of Battlezone, which would have been 1987. Hovertank was released as part of a monthly diskette service, and for what it is, its pretty impressive.

The story, told only in a readme file, is Brick Sledge, the mercenary operator of a HOVERTANK, is employed to retrieve civilians from cities that are about to undergo "limited nuclear strikes". The reasons for this are explained in each mission's briefing, which seems to have some amount of work put into them. That doesn't matter too much when the game starts, as every mission goes roughly the same way, kill enemies with your powerful cannon, run over some hostages to save them, then go to a portal. All in under some time limit.

Enemies don't take this without a fight. You have the usual melee and ranged projectile enemies, but then you have enemies that charge after hostages. You only have your cannon, but its incredibly effective against them. Every enemy I faced died in one hit to it. You can charge it, but all this seems to do is create splash damage. Simple offense and defense. To my knowledge there's no sidestepping in this game, so you need to hope your shields can hold. The money below isn't just a score, if you take damage during a mission it depletes to show repairs being done.

This isn't a terribly complex or interesting game, and it lacks a save function. There is a level select, but I didn't find out about that originally and I don't see the latter levels changing much. I see glimmers of something, but its hampered by the necessarily crappy visuals. The sound design in the game is more about being there than sounding good. Combined with the constant swaying of the viewport and I didn't see much point in continuing the game.

You have a cannon. It kills everything in one shot. You can charge it up, but there's little need to. 1/10

You have various mutants, and other tanks. The other tanks shoot at you. They run around in some pattern that presumably makes sense to someone and sometimes kill hostages. 2/10

You have hostages/rescuees. There's a man and a woman. They stand still. The woman looks very robust. 1/10

A progressive series of gradually more difficult levels. They're not easy to navigate, mostly due to controls and colors. 1/10

Player Agency:
Tank controls. Not a joke. You move forward quickly enough, you get an afterburner if you aren't fast enough already. Backward and is slow. If something sneaks up behind you, it's annoying. You can't see it in the screenshots, but there's a swaying that is very obnoxious. 2/10

You can pick up hostages. Sometimes shields. 0/10
The effect they're trying to go for is a kind of care-free cyberpunk-ish post-apoc-ish kind of deal. It kinda works outside of the levels themselves, which feel like a something a demonic entity would trap someone in. 3/10

Graphics are typical of iD pre-Wolfenstein. Tom Hall had a distinctive graphics style that included pale-white humans, messy hair and baggy clothes. This might be more distinctive because some elements are from other games. Some of the rescuees are Dangerous Dave. The mutants are the demons in Catacomb. I'm sure I'm missing something. The walls are a single color, as are the floors. I appreciate the efforts to make the walls different colors, but it just looks like someone screwing with the palette. 3/10

The between level texts, while not much of a story, are fairly interesting to read, and sometimes amusing. 2/10

The sound is very low-quality, I suspect I'm hearing the voices of iD personal being very annoying here. You have the obvious low-quality sound samples like screaming and someone saying "The Gate is Here". You also has various gun sounds that sound like Tom Hall, the human beatbox. There's also a bumping sound that is loud enough that someone could break into your house while you are playing this and you wouldn't notice. I guess that's accurate if a tank went into...some kind of wall. 1/10

And that brings us to the final score of 16. Considering this was released on a disk for a monthly subscription service, its high quality. If you had nothing better do to for a day, it's worth a shot.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Game 3: Wolfenstein 3D

In my playthrough of the first episode, I called Wolfenstein 3D the great uncle of the FPS. He's not the true progenitor, but he's close and he wants you to think he is.

Wolfenstein has a lot of problems, namely that it feels more up to the luck of the draw than anything real that you'll hit something. It probably involves more skill than I give it credit for. Part of it is, however, ultimately due to memorizing level layouts. I honestly can't remember more than 10 or so levels despite playing through this not more than a few days ago. I think I've probably played this as many times as Nitemare 3D and Doom 2, I don't have many problems remembering more of those levels.

It's also a bit of an oddity, featuring lives, score, coming off more like an arcade game than what we think of as a computer game. Its not alone in that mark, since several other games will involve these things, and if I'm not mistaken, they haven't ever really gone away. I don't really consider it odd, since score is just a way to put a point total to your ability to find all the other interesting things in the game. Lives, however, are something that are really useless unless the game doesn't let you save mid-level. Which is most of them.

I can recite them in my sleep. Knife. Pistol. MP-40. Gatling Gun. They're not impressive. It boils down to your ammo conservation strategy. 2/10 for having the basics. Sidescrollers had better weapons. You guys worked with Apogee. They knew to have different weapons. At least have a rifle if making projectiles appear is too hard. I can't wait for the other versions with their fancy flamethrowers and rocket launchers.

I can't recite them in my sleep, but I can still remember them all after a cup of coffee. Guard. SS. Officer. Frankenstein. Dog. The bosses I don't really remember the names of. After a while they become less interesting and more just fodder to be gunned down. 4/10.

None. 0/10

I can't put my finger on exactly why I generally dislike the levels here. Could it be the simple lack of a map screen, that even now, only comes in a simple tile at a time way? Could it be that there's a genuine lack of an attempt at making rooms look like rooms? There are rooms that look like barracks, kitchens, bathrooms, but the rest of the place just looks like a place to walk through. It's also a place that feels quite confusing, like it was designed by some suffering from late-stage syphilis. Some of them are smartly designed and others can just shove off. 3/10

Player Agency:
I'm not going to complain too much about the lack of a map, or the controls. It's okay. There's nothing going for it, and nothing to complain about. 5/10

I guess there's some? It's less impressive than Doom even. 1/10

There's kind of a charming atmosphere to this despite the quality issues. Which I guess is code for it's better than the sum of its parts. Something made me want to complete the entire game, again, for the fourth time. There's something charming about a colorful game about killing nazis. 5/10

This was very impressive in 1992. I can appreciate the level of effort that went into the wall graphics and the enemies, but there isn't enough and it ends up looking the same after a while. I would like to mention that I really like the little dinner plate they made. Whenever I see one of those in video games, I always compare it to this one, and they always lose. 5/10

Eh. I'd take points off for historical inaccuracies unrelated to the death of thousands of nazis by the player's hand if there was any mention of the story beyond the beginning and end. 1/10 To make it clear, I'm referring to the plot of the last three episodes, which involve the nazis plotting to engage in chemical warfare. Something that the nazis were not going to do, because they knew if they did, they'd suffer much worse from the Allies gassing them in retaliation. We don't like to think of it that way, but the Genova convention is a gentleman's agreement that's usually agreed upon by everyone in a convential war, be they good or evil.

If this was a video LP, half the running time would involve the sound of me pressing against the walls, hearing a low static sound or a bumping sound. This is very annoying. The gun sounds and the enemy sounds are also fine, but annoying. There are only so many times you can hear "Mein Leiban" or whatever the hell the officers shout. The doors have an obnoxious sound effect that seems to just appear out of nowhere and then disappear. It's a bit unnerving at times.
The music's got a quasi-jazzy/marching band kind of vibe. It feels a lot like the stuff he did for Bio Menace at times. It's nice. I'd like it better in a better game. With exception to one of the tracks that sounds like someone's playing morse code in it. 5/10

That brings this up to a total of 31. That's not terribly shocking. Yes, its frustrating at times and the secrets are usually crapshoots, but it is fun despite all these problems and all my complaining. It isn't even the best game to feature a completely level floor plan, which I guess for a lack of a better word is just a Wolfenstein clone.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Wolfenstein 3D: Episode VI

Soon, this grand saga shall draw to a close. General...Fettgesicht will fall to my barrel and all shall be well. Couldn't you use Himmler or something? Why make up a nonsense German name? Its not like Hitler did everything on his own.

E6M1, straight off the bat we have to deal with three officers and limited supplies of ammo. Thanks...Romero. I'm just going to assume this one's Romero's fault. I run out of ammo, like a noob, and then get slaughtered by two SS. Is this going to have a freaky difficulty curve? Or a difficulty rollercoaster? The difficulty in this level comes primarily from having to carefully alert officers hiding in a cubby hole on the sides of a long hallway. Because of this, if you're backtracking the level becomes annoying to navigate.

E6M2, MP-40 straight off? There's a sign. I discover on this level that enemies can shoot through walls at some angles. That's real great. I'd complain about the programming if it wasn't an early shooter. The early part of the level is designed with lots of single blocks creating a cris-cross effect. They're clever here and have some enemies get alerted by sound and some wait for you. Creates a bit of tension.

E6M3, you know iD, its real hard to save at the start of the level if I have to kill a thousand guys at the start of the level. Also, iD, I know I said I liked the usage of a constant emblem, but that doesn't mean the entire level has to be made out of Swastikas. If I didn't have a map I'd really hate this level.

E6M10, a secret level with a new wall texture? I mean, I question how you pistol started this bad boy. This level has four little sub-levels, each focusing on some kind of theme. The problem is you're not really given the ammo to deal with these little sub-levels. You're effectively trapped if you don't start with a chaingun and full ammo. You can bypass all this if you're clever, but that hardly seems fun. I'm starting to notice that a lot of the time when I die, enemies are usually firing from places I couldn't see. Its very tiresome either carefully walking through corridors or carefully jumping in and out of cover.

E6M4, this is rapidly testing my patience. A dog off to the side. I'm glad we didn't see Episode 7, because I'm sure that would've had a level where you were surrounded by SS at the start. Guess that's why there weren't any actual sequels. I'm starting to see this as less fun and more slog.

E6M5, I'm surprised. I would've thought somebody was going to be waiting for me on this level with a bat. Someone keeps promising me that. Someone keeps lying. Instead its that damn morse code track again. What is this, the third time? Did nobody testing play a level with this track more than once? Don't they realize how annoying it is. It's just a couple of bars over a morse code message. And a high-pitched whining noise in the background.

E6M6, the first half of this is an intense chicken with its head cut off scenario. A very satisfying series of twists and turns for the main level, providing a tricky setup for the enemies to ambush you. The final stretch has just enough enemies to kill you in a head-on confrontation.

E6M7, this one's a bit of a slog. You've got four obvious secrets areas, which are nice, one required secret, not so nice. There's one final giant maze full of tricky enemy placements. I'm on the edge about it.

E6M8, what's this, a castle inside a cave? Another castle in a cave? It that a new wall texture? This late? Another slog, but slightly more enjoyable than usual.

E6M9, really, an enemy at the start of a long level the player is likely to have lost a lot of health on. Thanks iD. Also, you hid all the health and ammo inside secrets. Thanks iD. General whatshisface goes down easy, but once again the battle is more in the hordes of enemies between him and you.

Death Count: 50
Final Score: 946100

Well, that was an experience.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Wolfenstein 3D: Episode V

We stopped Otto Giftmacher but his evil plans are still in motion. We must capture the plans. That means more enemies to kill and maim, and more secrets to discover!
E5M1, hey, a new wall texture. I like it. A new picture of Hitler on the walls, this time making sense? Oh, iD, you shouldn't have. Did you guys put meth in the art department's coffee again? Very difficult level. There's not a lot of health starting out, so if you aren't careful you'll get gunned down. There's clever enemy placement, two enemies hiding in different positions after a corner in a narrow passage.
E5M2, I like levels that don't start off with enemies down your throat. It makes you cautious, because you know either Romero or Hall have put down some unspeakably evil trap to kill you. Unloading a single round at a time in a new room, until you hear a thousand German voices cry out in anger. This is going to be good or bad. There's a neat little killing zone set up on this level full of SS. Its nothing but an ammo drain, but it feels nice to get through. Treasure is perhaps not worth the reward for the effort, but then, most large enemy zones aren't guarding much treasure.

E5M3, nice, simple. A real easy level. Nothing complex, nothing obnoxious. Dogs are finally appearing in front of ranged enemies, providing them with protection.

E5M4, another level with the exit within easy reach. Or at least it is if you wake up the guards in the exit room. That's something you'd think would be fixed in testing.

E5M5, still feeling like easy mode. It's not a terrible layout, but it's not great either.
E5M10, this one's very short and a little low on health items. I like it, corridors full of treasure feel very much like a secret level to me.
E5M6, still not much of a challenge, but boy, this is a neat level. The outside wall is dirt, so it feels kinda like you're entering an underground base from a cave.
E5M7, gee, a cross shape when you enter the level, I wonder what this is supposed to be. I actually do like the constant spamming of the Swastika in this game, having a symbol constantly appear creates familiarity and thus a realistic atmosphere in my opinion. First death in a while happened here, not because of any difficulty, but because I didn't see the enemy until it was too late. And hey, what's this, another new wall texture? Why you shouldn't have. Brown marble? Who makes a wall out of brown marble? Who even makes brown marble?

E5M8, a bit difficult, but nothing noteworthy.

E5M9, another boss. Because of the way the area is built, she's never far away from cover, meaning there's nothing really challenging here.

Death count: 5
Score: 773900

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Wolfenstein 3D: Episode IV

And so we start the prequel trilogy. With each sucessive entry in the Wolfenstein canon, we get closer and closer to the start of the war. If things had kept up, maybe BJ could've been in a mobile game flinging mashed potatoes at baby nazis. I also say now, screw it, I am the Death Incarnate! I doubt I'm going to regret that. This wasn't originally going to be made, but apparently the levels could be pumped out at a rate of one a day. That sounds about right. This episode is about stopping the nazi's chemical warfare campaign. This is a well-researched video game, in case you didn't know.
E4M1, what the...? Really? We needed another image of Hitler in the game? Why would he put that picture anywhere? Come on, you could've done another wall texture. I would've liked that. Sure, we get two new ones in this level, but three would've been better. Another a-MAZE-ing level full of reactive guards. I am pretty sure I killed most of the smart officers of the nazi party halfway through the level.
E4M2, now, don't take this quote as something other than what it is, but I really like the slaughter maps in Wolf. The viscera thrill of hunting down enemies while they might just sneak up behind you is something I actually appreciate in this game. Compared to Doom's sense of relief kiling an enemy, this is more of a sense of power. Your only weapons are rapid fire and the enemies don't take many hits. Secret traps too, as in secrets you can accidently lock off if you aren't careful.
E4M3, this one features a treasure vault, protected by like a hundred guards, SS and officers. We also got nice little layouts where the enemies actually feel like they're patroling something of interest. Sure, some of the layout is confusing and easy to get lost in, but let's keep this positive for a little while.

E4M10, seems like a nice calm level at first. Lots of chalices. A maze of them. I see an officer, I shoot the officer. I hear an alert sound. I see a thousand officers barrel towards me, in these crampled hallways. I die the first time, meaning I'm going to gun these guys all down with a pistol. Well, try. Once. Even with the gatling, it's a difficult task. You've got to control your fire and control their point of entry. Once you start being careful with the ammo and find the secret, its a bit easier.

E4M4, no, you had to go and ruin it. Way too mazey and difficult to move around. There's a big square room full of officers and paintings of Hitler on the wall. Its garish and annoying, it isn't even distracting. Not even a trap in the elevator room could improve the quality of this level.
E4M5, lots of dirt walls. I didn't mind it, at first. This level has too many mazes for its own good. Mazes of barrels, mazes of blocks. That, combined with the necessary secrets make this level less than enjoyable. I'm sensing a theme of this episode having way too many officers. No wonder the Allies won the war, everyone above the rank of lieutenant is probably dead. I'm getting real tired of whatever gibberish German they're saying. That's not a good sign.
E4M6, what is this level? There are tons of officers just hiding out in dead end hallways with nothing in them. It's a real barrel shoot too. The rest of the level is okay. I should mention at this point that there's no real difference between the two locked doors in this game. You can't tell which one is which.
E4M7, this level starts off with some speedrunning potential. If you kill the two officers in the starting area, the guards in the locked room wake up, letting you jam open the door with their corpses. Its starting to seem like the difficulty in this game at this setting doesn't come from anything beyond placing a million officers in-between you and the exit.
E4M8, this one starts you off with eight officers behind you, an almost certain death if you aren't prepared for it. I died. Pistol starting this level is annoying. You basically have to force the enemies here and in the surrounding rooms into coming through the door. Very annoying. Then you have to go through a gauntlet of deaf officers. Whoever tested this level must've been hardcore. And a secret that just loops back into the level. That'd be nice if this were Doom for a deathmatch.
E4M9, another boss. There's a real nasty trap on this floor involving a horde of SS and officers. You don't really need to deal with them. There's nothing preventing you from just going straight to the boss. The boss, Otto Giftmacher uses a rocket launcher, but projectiles in this game are a joke and he goes down with a full ammo count.

Death Count:30

I feel like each new episode brings me nothing but disappointment.

Friday, July 12, 2019

A-10 Tank Killer: Central Europe 1

Remember when people made games about vehicles? Not jump into a random vehicle in an Battlefield kind of vehicle, just having a vehicle and then driving somewhere, before getting destroyed by an errant pistol shot. I'm talking an actual simulation of fighting in a vehicle. Are there even any of those anymore? It's like talking about commerical adventure games. I suppose the answer for all of those questions are "yes, there are some, but they're not as good as they used to be". I also don't really care too much.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog" is a close-range, low-flying support fighter. Reading up on it, it sounds like a real nice piece of military equipment. Built like a flying tank. Certainly worth the 18 or so million each one originally cost. Compared to the disaster that is the F-35, this is something I'm glad to try out in the spaces of virtual space.

It works in Dosbox, straight off the CD.

It starts off with a nicely animated piece, for '89 anyway. Really jamin' music, too, a good sign the rest of the game is going to suck on that department. When the title screen pops up, I'm greeted to the slowest possible mouse movement.
Imagine 10 pixels a second.
It starts off like any good flight sim campaign should. You're introduced to the good ol' CO, Colonel Cord, your co-pilot*, and what to do with your aircraft so you can do more than crash into enemy tanks. In this case the Soviets. Characters are digitized, not something I expected around this point, but it is VGA, so I should've been expecting it.

Soon the smiling mug of Dracula shall grace about twenty computers.
After this, we're introduced to the weapons loadout screen. Which has very difficult to use controls. The keyboard seems non-responsive in this menu, so the missiles I get by default. The CO told me I needed a wide loadout and I have no idea what I am doing at this point. I feel like it would be a good idea to mention this before going into the sky, but I assume the manual had that information.
This loadout is perfect and I know exactly what I am doing.
Yep, yep, yep, I'm supposed to have a manual with this game. I do, but my manual looks terrible. Took a second, but the number keys control speed, the function keys control the view, and S, D, and M bring up various statuses. The CO is whining because I have no idea what I'm doing. Too high causes him to whine, not fast enough causes him to whine. This is a training mission, cut me a little slack you whining baby! And this is a plane, you can't possibly expect me to make a precision flight with it on the first go.
This game doesn't cut any crap if you screw up during the training mission either. It's straight off to the central Europe. Assuming you don't crash into the ground and die horribly. Your pilot dies and he is dead. Doing it with a little more grace, and with a manual. I get as far as shooting a single rocket and destroying a single target before smashing into the ground again. At least that mission over music is jamin'. After several more failed attempts, almost always on the Avenger machine gun against tank part. With the winning shot I blew through all my ammo, but used another missile on the last one. Still counted. The best part? I don't have to land the plane! Even better, when the next mission starts my loadout is automatically done. Its like I don't have to do all the parts I don't want to do. Except replaying the tutorial level. I could do it via the fly one mission, but I don't want to take the chance I'll miss something in the campaign.
This is just before I die horribly twenty times.
The second mission doesn't screw around either. Within seconds your wingman dies horribly after discovering some unforeseen SAM launchers, leaving you to take out three targets on your own. The Soviets aren't screwing around either. By the time it takes you to start your attack run as per orders, you've got to take out a few MiGs who are airborne. I managed to take out my two primary targets, a MiG, some tanks, who my wingman was supposed to take out before his accident. Would've gotten the secondary target too if I didn't hit the wrong building with an LGB**. I even tried using a Durandal, a pavement bomb, but I either couldn't lock on or didn't wait enough. I wasn't going to try another bombing run with another MiG flying around and SAM launchers.
Is there something wrong with your spine, colonel?
Mission three, we get thrust out thanks to a sneak attack. I blame this squarely on failing to take out the airfield the last time. I'm getting the hang of this. I'd have got it in one square shot if I remembered that I couldn't use a pavement bomb on a bridge. I also take out a HIND harrassing a supply convoy. War is won on the supply lines after all. But that's just accomplishing the primary and secondary objectives. Well, you know what, you damn commies? Its time to bring some freedom salad directly to your door. Open wide! Or that's what I would say if I managed to succeed in that plan.
We all knew that Riker would one day step out of Picard's shadow
Mission four, playing mother hen for a group of tanks. I have to protect them from Soviet ground tank killers, hence the mission's title, Mother Hen. Their objective is to punch through their SAM line so I can take out their supply depot. It's easier than it sounds. You've got four groups of tanks and a bridge you've got to protect.
They're fire and forget, buddy! I forgot!
There's nothing quite like accidentally firing on a friendly and seeing their final moments on this Earth. The realization that you just screwed up and someone's family is going to hate you forever. A court martial would surely await this incident in real life, but that would be nothing compared to the helplessness of the realization that you chose the wrong target and got to see a missile slowly kill several brave men and destroy millions of tax dollars. Even in a video game, this creates a kind of sickening feeling in your stomach. Fortunately, in a video game, I can take the pain away and make it right.
What did you do?
Because the map screen tells you what you're objectives are, even if you don't know it yet. You can use this to go ahead to things you haven't heard about yet. This time I go straight to the Soviet tank killers and knock them out, even getting one of their sam launchers. I almost get it, even a surprise addition enemy, but accidently discover that the Soviets brought more anti-air ordinance than we expected. I do it again, this time, perfectly, even turning around before hitting their killing zones. Movement sometimes doesn't work when you press the buttons. I'm not sure what that's down to, realism or bad coding. Sometimes I don't even realize I haven't changed my speed.
One day, I'm going to be in those things, and I'm going to curse when I see an A-10.
Every time a new element shows up in this mission, I die. I'm not ashamed to admit I quit out of DOSbox each time this happens, because I don't want to do the previous missions again. I don't really view it as cheating, since I'm not really getting any advantage out of doing this. I also check the manual more this time. It supposedly contains an interview with an actual A-10 pilot. It clears some stuff up on how I'm going to deal with this mission. I wasn't completely clear before on the height.
I too, care more about the fuselage than the ground.
Try, try, try again. I feel like this game makes it too easy to crash into the ground. Now, I'm not completely clear on how this is all supposed to realistically go down, but I feel confident I can say that I would notice the ground approaching me and know to get away from it. The game only offers the number to the right side and a beeping sound, a beeping sound that can easily be unnoticed while I'm gunning down something. Sometimes that doesn't even happen. Also, keep in mind, I died like twenty times and each time I restarted DOSbox, if I didn't, I'd restart the campaign. The problem is that in addition to having to destroy a bunch of anti-tank ordinance, on the first go, mind you, you have to dodge short ranged SAMs located in the hills. This wouldn't be a problem if I could A)Tell my buddies in the tank to eliminate them for me or B)Didn't have to deal with HINDs. I can't take out those SAMs without wasting munitions, and I can't take out those HINDs with SAMs on my behind. I'm guessing this kind of thing is in actual simulator missions.
That's all I had to do?
So, because I took out one of the SAM launchers so I'd have an easier time dealing with the HINDs, and then my CO tells me that the SAM line has been broken through and to bomb my primary target. You know, not to question the wisdom of anyone, but I can fly this sucker real low, like under 100. I'm just saying if this mission was just me solo breaking through a SAM line it wouldn't have been a very long mission. No, we have to bring tanks along. Not to question the game's logic either, but I wasn't aware SAM missiles could hit a plane speeding across the ground. In fact, I'd like to congratulate the Soviets for having such sharpshooting skills. I also think its impressive I can't gun them down from the ground either.
I wonder if real wars failed on such simple objectives as these.
Okay, we're not screwing up this time. I knock down their SAMs that are in my way, I kill everything attacking the tanks, I even stop another tank attack on a bridge. I finally get to the target free of attacking enemy forces...and I hit the wrong target. Twice. I finally hit the depot with some machine gun fire, but I'm taking on a lot of damage and that building's going to take a lot of damage. Time to take a partial failure.
I've been hit enough, thank you.
Mission 5, a deep strike mission. More the sort of thing you'd see in a video game centered around an F-16. As he mentions. Thanks to the A-10 being able to fly real low***. Compared to the relative clusterbomb that was the last mission, this should be easy. As long as my wingmen don't screw this up, it'll be smooth sailing. Oh, I'm one of the wingmen? Great. This is going to end badly. Col. Cord ends the briefing by telling me again I don't want to deal with a load of angry MiGs. I'm being punished for screwing up the last part of the last mission, aren't I?
You guys better not screw me over...
Smooth sailing for a little while. A bit of trouble keeping up with the AI, nothing special. I get told to blow up a platoon of tanks, and I accidently unload all of my Rockeyes, or clusterbombs. Should've been a visual indicator that you just launched a missile. Can't hear anything over the roar of three airplane engines. The base has six MiGs, nothing a few lucky Mavericks can't deal with...and I stall out. Again.
This somehow caused so many problems for me.
Here's where the game starts to fall apart. Whereas the last mission I could chalk up to extreme, if somewhat fair, difficulty, this one's difficulty is completely down to an interface problem. If another louder sound is playing, the only indication that a missile has launched is to hit the S key. On the first encounter with a group of tanks, you have enough problems trying to hit them in time. For some reason, the first Rockeye I launch always misses. This means I have to take out four tanks properly with Mavericks and Avenger fire. Okay, difficult, but less annoying. Destroying all the enemy planes before they take off. Not that hard. Getting back in formation before my flight leader goes to the next target without me and without stalling. More difficult than it sounds.
Finally, only another twenty times.
The final run on the supply base isn't perfect. I knock out most of the MiGs, but one of them gets away and kills the wingman. I get the MiG (and the vital SAM) while attempting to regroup with the flight leader. Flight leader shoves off leaving me to deal with the building myself. I could've done this on my own. Gosh.
This is potentially going to screw me on the next mission.
Mission 6, we are once again rushed out, this time to destroy some tanks. Solo. It'd be a barrel shoot if I didn't have so many problems stalling. Apparently I should've chosen the name Stallman for my character. A few more tries than it should have an I get a lot of tanks. Apparently not enough.
But colonel, I unloaded the entire cannon.
The final mission of the first campaign. Sam Slam. So named because its going to have more SAMs than Mother Hen. The Soviets are going for one final offensive. Enemy tanks are going to swarm our defense. My goal being to ensure our M4Bs survive so they can take out enemy aircraft. Wait, that means I'm doing air defense. No no no no no no no!
Colonel, what did you expect, given my record?
In this mission everything you've done so far plays out against you. Which means I should've gotten more tanks on that barrel shoot. At least thanks to my efforts in Mother Hen all our tanks are around. A secondary objective is defending a radar base from two HINDs. First time through I burn through three Mavericks on three SAMs, and a Sidewinder on the choppers. Unfortunately, that basically depleted my Mavericks. A SAM I didn't see does enough damage for me to lose my wings and I stall. Back to square one. It's amazing how a problem that first started in the first level of this campaign turned into an on-going problem. I don't rightly know if the problem is me or not.
That didn't take like 14 tries or anything.
The key to this mission, really, is to stay within air cover. Enemy MiGs are swarming all over the place outside of it. You need leave once to prevent a couple of HINDs from attacking a radar base, but they aren't in that direction. Unfortunately for the tank battalions, saving them all is not in your best interests. Destroying all the enemy tanks is and saving the radar base is. It's in your best interests to avoid any and all MiGs flying around.
With that we complete the first campaign. No special screens or anything, just a total score of 268934. A score I'm sure someone else can and has beaten.
Next time its more from Central Europe. I'm sure you can also beat my death count, of probably 90 or something.

*Which is not a feature of the actual A-10.
**Laser-Guided Bomb, or your standard building destruction weapon.
***It's a slowdive...