Rowan’s BoB has been around few years now – and although I bought my copy (actually 2 part copies) at a car boot sale – it is still available new on one or two budget labels.
Out of the box it promises much – but the result is uneven. However it has a very loyal band of users and developers who have produced some major updates which are well worth having.
The good news is that all these patches and more are are available in a new commercial release of this game “BoB Wings of Victory”.
The bad news is that development on the original version of the game appears to have now stopped - and the patches no longer available.
This review was written based on the 0.99 patch for this game which appears to be the last made available free of charge.
One thing that really strikes you about this game is that is really is about the Battle of Britain. Unlike HC BoB which is really more a general flight sim, Rowan BoB is both a historically accurate sim and also a strategy game.
Being a historically accurate sim doesn’t necessarily make it fun to play. This is certainly not the sort of game where you jump into a Spit and merrily shoot down a few 109s before landing back at base. Instead it requires some practice and getting used to the way the game works. Spitfires/Hurricanes for instance accurately implement ‘bunting’ so your engine cuts out in a dive. Also you don’t have access to the type of unrealistic (but very useful) targeting aids as found in Janes AS and the MS CSF series.
Also due to the historical nature of the game the choice of planes is limited to what was available in the summer/autumn of 1940.
Having said that – perseverance does pay off and I changed from not much liking the game to understanding why so many people still play it.
A few guidelines:
1) Get the latest patch (0.99 at time of writing)
2) Configure the graphics/screen resolution.
3) Pick a combat with lots of aircraft.
4) Use F8 to give you a much clearer targeting screen.
Point 2 is worth mentioning in more detail. Rowan BoB is the only game I’ve actually had to update my graphic drivers for. I had got 0.98 of the patch working properly – but had cloud flashing problems with 0.99 until I put newer drivers on. Talking about 0.98 – this suffered from a low frame rate which I eventually fixed with the following:
GEFORCEFX5200 322 LOCK_TARG_FMT_TO_BACK_BUFF NO_TEXTURE_TARGET MIN_FRAME_TIME_MS 30
in cardbase.rc and bdg.txt respectively.
(This fix was relevant to my Nvida based FX5200 card and other cards may require different fixes)
The NVIDIA drivers I’m currently using are:
Release Date: November 9, 2004
You are looking for a FPS of about 25. If you are suffering at 10-15 then unless your computer is particularly old you probably can improve things with configuration.
Point 3 may also seem a little odd. However whereas one on one in Janes AS works well – it is no fun at all in Rowan BoB. Either the enemy shoots you down or he goes off and hides in a cloud somewhere. The external views and tracking are not as helpful as they could be. Therefore having lots of planes in the air will reduce frustration and give you some decent targets.
My favourite multi plane scenario is the attack on the Short Brother’s factory. For the British you can fly either the Spitfire or Hurricane and target the escort fighters or bombers respectively. Its less fun playing the Germans and the Me110 escort fighters are quite vulnerable. However manning the turret positions on the He111 can be quite rewarding.
I must admit I have had a couple of game crashes – but the 0.99 patch is generally very good. The game is still available and provides one of the best options for a decent BoB game. I say one of the best as it is has been superseded by a new commercial version - BoB Wings of Victory. This promises to be everything the 0.99 patch provides but also with even better graphics and other new features. If you haven’t already tried the original BoB – you might want to go straight for the new version.
Rowan’s Battle of Britain was originally published by Empire Interactive.
Reviewed March 2005