Out of the Sun

Flight-Simulation Game
By Mel Beckman

PROS: Historically accurate battle scenarios; wide selection of aircraft; shows related ground forces.
CONS: Limited flight dynamics; unrealistic scenery rendering; incomplete documentation.
COMPANY: Domark Software (415/513-8929).

Flight simulators seem to fall into two categories: jet-powered shoot-'em-ups with miraculous capabilities that can save the day in any situation, and more realistic seat-of-the-pants simulations that require real aviation skills and tactical knowledge. Domark's Out of the Sun is in the latter category, putting you in authentic World War II fighters and bombers, fighting historically accurate adversaries.

The simulation comes on CD-ROM, and you can run it directly from the disc or install it in about 20MB on your hard drive. The well-written manual includes a quick-start section, as well as detailed instructions and background information. The game opens with an overview of three theaters: Midway, D-Day, and Kursk. You choose one and then select a battle from headlines in a World War II-era newspaper facsimile; the newspaper's articles give you background information on your particular engagement. Finally, you select the country you're fighting for (the United States, Britain, Germany, or Japan) and the aircraft you want to fly.

The simulation then puts you in the midst of the battle. Depending on the scenario, you may be in a midair formation with enemy aircraft in your sights, or on a runway trying to take off while attackers bomb the airfield. All sorts of battlefield effects add realism: machine-gun tracers cut the sky around you, armored surface forces move and shoot back, fires erupt on the ground, and destroyed aircraft and buildings shower bits and pieces everywhere. Everything makes noise, and you can make the cacophony authentically deafening with the help of a good external sound system.

The simulation has a total of 18 battle scenarios, including both land and sea engagements. But you're not limited to the preprogrammed battles. A battle-design panel lets you create your own situations.

Each cockpit is sparsely but realistically rendered, with just the basics of altimeter, airspeed, compass, and engine controls. The actual flight simulation itself, however, is not as refined as some other period simulators, such as Graphic Simulations' Hellcats Over the Pacific. Even on a Power Mac 8100/100, the 3-D view has a choppy feel. The flight dynamics of different aircraft vary only slightly, and scenery is rendered as large polygons. And while the program supports flight controls such as the MouseStick and ThrustMaster, the documentation says nothing about how control buttons are assigned, leaving you to puzzle out the controls by trial and error.

The Last Word

While other Mac simulations offer more realistic landscapes, Out of the Sun's historical accuracy is refreshing. Out of the Sun is fun, engrossing, and completely enjoyable.

Macworld January 1996 Page 77