This is a word I rarely use when the BoB Developers Group releases a new patch for BOB2 and this one has been in the works for nearly two years. And I won't be using it this time!
Luckily, once again, the BDG has delivered.
In this new patch you will find the following improvements to BOB2, to name just a few:
- corrected coastline, ports, docks and airfields. Looking at a period photograph of any airfield and comparing it to BOB2 is amazing. You see all the right buildings in the right place, in the game, right down to the hedgerows and trees!
The same attention to detail has gone into the redrawn and remodelled ports and docks
- Bomber escorts in LW campaigns have been fixed. These used to be a little buggy and escorts often ran ahead of the bombers they were supposed to be escorting, allowing them to get slaughtered. Now the 'detached' escorts stick with their bombers all the way to target (fuel allowing!)
- Bomber stragglers! Bomber AI has been recoded so that bombers that are badly damaged will not try to get to target, but will fall back and then turn for home, allowing the player to pick them off.
- Amazingly detailed new objects. Just check out the Westminster Cathedral and Brighton Pier
And here's how fanatically accurate the BDG team is. See this shot of the pier? Notice there is a big chunk missing in the pier, rat the left of the picture?
You'll see it clearly as you fly over it. Mistake? Never! That's what it was like in 1940! The center section of the pier was destroyed for fear it could be used by German forces landing during an invasion.
You can see a Luftwaffe aerial recon pic here showing the missing section marked as '33' (Destroyed)
- Does any of this come at a cost to the framerate and smoothness of play? YES
You can't get this much detail into the Merline game engine and still expect to be able to play it on your grandmas old PC. The devs recommend at least dual core and 1MB GFX card, which is not crazy, but a step up from previous specs. But if you want hundreds of aircraft in the air over these gorgeous objects, you need to have a PC that can handle it.
The campaign engine has been given a thorough working over. I haven't explored all the tweaks but it appears mostly the work has been done on the Luftwaffe campaign, also to make the end of day reports for both sides better match what the player sees in action. This has always been a bug bear of mine - one report would tell you you knocked down 20 aircraft, another would say 16. Which should you believe? Now at least they are singing the same song.
- So what is not to like? Well, I can't help feeling this old girl needs a new set of dancing shoes ie a graphics update. She is firmly stuck in 2005 and the world has moved on. IL2 1946 was already a step beyond BOB2 in the graphics race, Rise of Flight took it a step further, and Cliffs of Dover further still. Graphically you can't compare BOB2 and Cliffs of Dover without seeing how outdated the BOB2 graphic engine is now.
CLIFFS OF DOVER
But BOB2 still wins in the air, when the player is fighting for their lives against the best combat AI in the prop sim business, which is still BOB2.
Going up against the ace AI in BOB2 is the closest I can get to flying online, without the taunting and jeering, but with me usually eating just as much humble pie!
- Still some things on the wishlist
But there are still some other things that still annoy the heck out of me, that I wish they would fix.
The buildings pop in and out of view, especially when you are at low level which is OK in a Spit, but when you are in a Bf110 making a bombing run and your target, the whole factory, suddenly disappears from view, this is not good enough. Cliffs of Dover had the problem and fixed it. If they can, the BDG should be able to as well.
The BDG also needs to crack multiplayer for this sim. They've been working on it for years already and it still requires an IT programmer to get it to work. Multiplayer would give this sim a brand new lease of life, so I don't understand why it hasn't been a priority.
And the landscape tiles need a lift. They don't have to look photorealistic, and they do look alright from a height...
....but down low they are downright featureless and ugly.
It is down low the sim shows its age the most, but luckily you will spend most of the game fighting for your life at 10-20,000 feet, so it isn't a big issue. Having said that, something like THIS would be nice!
Yes, that's all I want, the beautiful graphics of Cliffs of Dover with the gameplay of BOB2
IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?! PC GAME DEVS OUT THERE? ANYONE?
Well, it seems it is. For now.
In the meantime we will have to be satisfied with the versions of these two great sims that we have now and be glad they are here at all.
I give this update an 7/10. I gave the 2.11 update a higher score, 8/10 because after all, it gave us a whole new aircraft (the Tiger Moth) to play around with and I had some fun in that old crate.
I gave the 2.10 update a 7/10 because that one gave us a few new models and bug fixes, but not much else. So maybe I am being a bit hard considering the updates to the campaign game in 2.12. 2.09 was also a 7, because it gave us better flak, better flight modelling, and trees.
But I gave the 2.08 patch a 9/10 because that gave us the Single Player Campaign - the biggest thing to happen to BOB2 since it was launched, and something the BDG has not matched since.
So yes, a good update, but not a great update.
If you have BOB2 though, you will want it!