KNIGHTS OF THE SKY
Knight of the Sky, released in 1991, was MicroProse's answer to Red Baron. Unfortunately, Red Baron set the standard for this genre so high, that Knights of the Sky was unable to reach it. Even still, Knights of the Sky does offer a slightly different style of gameplay that may appeal to some, and a multiplayer option to dogfight a friend.
Knights of the Sky offers two modes of play, campaign and practice. Practice mode starts the player at an airfield of their choice in an airplane of their choice, including German planes, and lets them fly anywhere. Campaign modes lets the player join the British, French, or US forces and go on various missions as the war progresses. There are also two other options on the main menu. One is dogfight a famous ace, which is basically practice mode against an aircraft that is supposed to exhibit the same style of fighting as that particular ace. The other is head to head play. This is the only major feature that Knights of the Sky has that Red Baron does not. Head to head play lets the player connect to another computer via modem or serial cable and dogfight.
The graphics of Knight of the Sky are adequate, but could have been better. It is almost impossible to distinguish a friendly aircraft from an enemy just by looking at it unless they are very close. Planes are indeed colored differently, but not unique enough to know if that white and black group of pixels on the screen is a friendly aircraft or an enemy. Models of planes are almost too basic. A little more detail would have been nice.
When the player engages the enemy there does not seem to be much skill involved. Dogfights usually come down to who can turn inside the other plane, which is usually the player. Even on the highest realism setting, it only takes a few flights to get the hang of it and be able to shoot any plane down.
The flight model is virtually nonexistent. Besides minor differences in top speed, and climbing ability, there really is no difference between the planes. Gameplay feels more arcade-like than actually flying an aircraft. Planes seem to only be limited to how hard and fast the player can yank the joystick around.
Damage to planes is nonexistent. The plane is either fully functioning or on its way to crash into the ground. After a few hits the plane will lose engine power and the player will have to glide to the ground and try to land at a safe place, hopefully on the western side of the front.
Knights of the Sky may sound like a sub-par WWI flight sim, but this only because Red Baron raised the bar very high when it was released. This game offers more of an "instant action" sort of gameplay. You are sure to get into a fight with all the aircraft in the skies. It is also quite fun to go up and down the German side of the front shooting down balloons. Just be careful of the German planes defending them.
Balloon Busting (2 MB)
Slideshow Demo (156 KB)
Official Patch (482 KB)