Successfully bridging old and new operating systems.

I skipped the Windows Vista operating system for three reasons: I’d read it was mediocre; it required stronger hardware and more system memory than my old PC had for satisfactory performance; I was running fine with Windows XP. I recently installed Windows 7 (Win7) on my new PC. It impresses me as a solid version of Vista that alleviates many of that system’s annoyances and keeps or improves on its strengths.

Win7 is recommended for new PCs, but if you like to use some old flight sims, tread carefully. Classic sims tended to work pretty closely with the hardware and operating system, and might not be natively compatible with Win7. Here are some general rules on game compatibility with Win7:

  • Software compatible with Vista should work with Win7.
  • Software compatible with XP should work with Win7 but may require adjustments. Win7’s more expensive versions include a Windows XP emulator, but high-performance applications like games may not run well in this mode. It’s preferable to run software natively under Win7 via some adjustments or a patch. A developer’s Web site can often provide assistance.
  • Software created for systems older than XP is less certain to work and may not be supported. Experimentation and third-party support are the primary recourses in these kinds of situations. If you have a sizable collection of classic flight simulations that you’re sure you still want to keep around, the best way to play them might be to keep an old PC on hand.

Note that the products reviewed here, Order of War and Heroes Over Europe, are both documented as Vista compatible, but they ran fine on Win7.

Order of War ($30, requires Microsoft Windows XP/Vista, 3.0 Ghz Pentium 4-class processor, 1 GB system RAM, DVD ROM player or direct download via, 256 MB 3D video card: GeForce 7600 or ATI HD 2400 or better, Square Enix, na.order is a real-time strategy game that delivers land battles from WWII’s Eastern and Western fronts on a large scale. Players can call in paratroopers, fighter-bombers and attack aircraft. While Order of War isn’t as demanding as some other strategy games— offering limited commands, no fog of war and less micromanagement—it’s an option for less experienced gamers or players who will be happier with a leisurely pace. Gamers who are into more detail will prefer THQ’s Company of Heroes or Aspyr’s Men of War.

Heroes Over Europe ($39.95, requires Microsoft Windows XP/Vista, 2.66 Ghz dual core processor, 1 GB system RAM [XP]/2 GB [Vista], DVD ROM player or direct download via, 256MB 3D video card: GeForce 6800 or Radeon X1600 or better, Ubisoft, features plenty of air combat action and abstraction. Players pilot fighters in WWII conflicts and have access to more than 40 aircraft, but for realists the experience is weak. The flight model is nearly absent, and the “real mode” has unlimited ammo, a lack of spins or drag, incompetent wingmen and arcade-like features such as the single shot “ace kill” mode.

Heroes offers decent graphics and intense dogfights, but the depth is poor; although missions show some variety (air-to-air, air-to-ground, fighter-versus-bomber), there is a dull sameness to each sortie. I would expect experienced and even casual gamers to tire of it in short order.


Originally published in the May 2010 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.