First Eagles: The Great War 1918

Join the Entente Powers or the Central Powers and duke it out, in the skies of World War I.

Release Date

December 2006.

Pros

The graphics are nice. The planes look great and the lighting and shadows look very good as you fly around. The plane damage is also well done with bullet holes and bits and pieces flying off. Although nice, I think Falcon 4.0 still has the edge on First Eagles in the graphics department.

Force Feedback! First Eagles works well with my Wingman Force 3D. Sure the firing guns feedback is just cool, but you also get feedback when the plane is about to stall. Very useful to know.

The game is very easy to get into. You can change settings so that it becomes an arcade flyer. For those that want a challenge, you can bump up the settings to make it a difficult sim. There is also a separate setting for ammo which is good if you like to play a difficult game, but with unlimited bullets. The number of bombs is always limited though.

World War I planes did not have autopilot. Luckily First Eagles does. It also has a wing leveller, time acceleration and even a skip to next event key. Very good for skipping all those boring bits of flying. Ultimate realists can always choose not to use these options of course.

There are mods for the game including more planes. Check out CombatACE.

You can paint your own planes if you like.

The campaign missions are dynamically generated. The single missions can be fixed missions or dynamically generated as well.

Cons

No music during flight.

You can have different pilot profiles for different people playing on one PC, but the game settings are not saved on a per-profile basis. So if you normally play on easy and someone else comes along and changes the game to hard, it will stay on hard until someone changes it back to easy.

For those that crave ultimate realism, First Eagles does not deliver. At it’s most difficult setting, there is still a HUD that displays your plane’s flight information like speed and altitude. Sure there are instruments in the plane and they are animated, but nowhere in the manual does it explain which instruments are for what and some instruments are partially blocked from view. Yes, the hard setting is definitely harder than normal, but still not ultimately realistic. I do not mind this so much, but some people would not like it.

You can crash into buildings, but you cannot crash into trees.

The manual is quite short for a flight sim. Although it does explain the basics and how to play the game, I wish there was more information.

Other Points

During installation, my anti-virus detected a trojan in the file mpmission.dll and quarantined it immediately. I am guessing this is a false positive. The good thing is, when I installed the November 2008 patch, a new mpmission.dll was installed without issues.

On my Windows 7 64 bit with DirectX 11, I had to install DirectX 9 that came on the CD, because the game was reporting missing files.

If you set the graphics settings to unlimited, each mission takes quite a long time to load. Not annoyingly long like SWAT 4 but quite long considering the age of the game. After trying out unlimited graphics settings, I had to downgrade a few of the unlimited settings to high, as the frame rate dropped too low when there were lots of planes around.

I am not sure whether it is the aircraft of the era or just First Eagles, but all the three planes that come with the game sound the same.

I am unsure how realistic the flight model is, but I find the planes quite easy to handle even on the hardest flight model setting. I hardly stall the planes and also find it quite easy to recover if I do stall them. Maybe that is how World War I planes handle, but I do not know.

Biases

Reviewed version November 2008.

I like to play with unlimited gun ammo.

I also like to use the assisted HUD and external views to show where targets are. Otherwise, I cannot see where anything is.

I mainly play air-to-air missions.

I really liked Falcon 4.0, Gunship 2000 including Islands and Ice, Falcon 3.0, Knights of the Sky, T.F.X., Fleet Defender, F-15 Strike Eagle 3 and Jane’s Fighters Anthology.

I also liked LHX Attack Chopper and Harrier Jump Jet.

I mainly played with hard settings for everything except enemy skill level, HUD display, and ammo usage.

I only played single player.

DRM

First Eagles is DRM free.

Patches

November 2008 – This patch must be applied to make First Eagles work under Windows 7 64 bit.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on box)

  • Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
  • Pentium III 800 MHz
  • 256MB of System RAM
  • 500MB Hard Disk Space
  • 128MB RAM Video Card
  • DirectX 9.0 or later
  • Sound card with speakers
  • Quad Speed or better CD-ROM drive

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4Gb RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1Gb RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones. Or Logitech G35.
  • Logitech Wingman Force 3D.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Handy Tips

If you decide to play single missions with custom add-on planes, make sure you get planes on both sides of the conflict that were used during the same time frame. Or else you might not see any enemies. For example, I downloaded the Airco DH.2 and was flying it around as the RAF in 1916. There were no enemy planes at all. Later I downloaded the Fokker E.IV, and they started appearing in the skies of 1916.

Recommended Mods

FE_Sounds V.2 – Gives some better sounds for the game.

First Eagles Effects Pack – Makes the game look better.

Here are some nice planes to try out:
Morane-Saulnier N “Bullet”: July 1915-December 1916,
Voisin Type V: December 1915-November 1918,
Pfalz E.V: February 1916-August 1916,
Fokker E.IV: February 1916-December 1916,
Airco DH.2: February 1916-July 1917,
Albatros D3: November 1916-November 1917,
Aviatik-Berg D.I: January 1917-November 1918.
Airco D.H.5: March 1917-November 1918.
Nieuport 28 C.1: March 1918-November 1918.

108 FE1 and/or FE2 FMs March 2010 – Improved flight models and some extras to make the game even better. You must get the planes first before adding the flight models for them though. This mod also makes the Salmson 2 A.2 and the D.F.W. C.V flyable, just copy the flight model files to their respective aircraft folders.

A SPAD XIII skin of Francesco Baracca, Italy’s best ace of World War I. See the prancing horse before it became Ferrari’s Emblem. For more information see Wikipedia.

 

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