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Video Game / Wings of Glory

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"World War I has been raging since August of 1914. Over 4 million dead. 11 million wounded. 4 million missing or captured. Only a brave few could rise above it. To battle man to man, on fragile wings of glory."
Game's opening cutscene

Wings of Glory is a World War I combat flight simulator video game for DOS PCs, developed by Origin Systems and published by Electronic Arts in 1994. The game uses Origin's custom made Realspace engine, which was first used in their earlier flight simulator, Strike Commander.

The game uses essentially the same framework as Origin's successful Wing Commander franchise, in which the player controls a pilot and goes through the course of a war, flying missions and interacting with members of his squadron between sorties. Wings of Glory features highly customizable realism options, the ability to earn medals and promotions based on game performance, as well as a "killboard" in which he can compare his air-to-air kills with the other squadron members.

Very similar to Wing Commander in many regards, it is distinguished by its more realistic nature due to it taking place in a real historical war rather then a science fiction setting. News broadcasts and squadron members will announce and talk about real historical events, while the course of the war plays out exactly as it did in real life. Also, the entire fate of the war isn't resting on solely on the player's shoulders in this game. In fact, you can fail every mission and the Allies will still win the war at the end.

The game has three different game modes: A custom mission editor, an "iron man" mode in which the goal is to rack up the highest possible score against endless waves of enemy planes, and a story-driven campaign in which the player's takes control of an American volunteer who joins the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and eventually transfer's to the US Army Air Force following America's entry into the war. The campaign contains 40 total mission, 25 with the British and 15 with the Americans.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ace Pilot: As in real life, your pilot will become an ace after downing 5 enemy planes (Observation Balloons and Zepplins also count). The game also sometimes pits the player against enemy ace pilots, most of whom are fictional, but some whom are real, such as real life German ace Erich Löwenhardt.
  • Airborne Mook: Every German plane that isn't flown by a named ace.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Just like in Wing Commander, Wings of Glory has an "autopilot" that enables you to skip all sections of a mission that do not involve combat, as opposed to taking the time to manually fly to your objectives. You can also use this to automate takeoffs and landings
    • Many of the most challenging aspects of World War I flight can be "turned off" if the player chooses, such as limited ammo, wing sheering, stalling, and sunlight glare.
  • Arson Murder And Life Saving: During the campaign, the player and his friend Charles Dearing steal planes for an unauthorized mission to bomb a German aerodrome. Upon returning, the squadron commanding officer will chew you both out for taking the planes on an unauthorized mission, then give you a medal for bombing the airfield and send you back on duty without repercussions.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Your wingmen in this game are actually quite competent. It's very possible to finish a mission with them getting more kills then you. You may even have some missions in which all the kills are attributed to them. Even lumbering two-seat planes you have to escort are usually at least marginally effective at defending themselves.
  • Bottomless Magazines: All other planes besides yours never run out of ammo. For you this is optional. The player can give himself limitless ammo if they chose to do so, though on the challenge mode, this is automatically given, since the player is fighting endless waves of planes.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Ulrich Gertman, the German pilot who first coerced a French civilian Lisette Beauregard into spying on your squadron at the fear of having artillery strikes guided to her family's home, and then shot down protagonist's best friend, before air-dropped a taunting message at said friend's funeral and is also said to shoot at the already-wrecked Allied planes to ensure they burn.
  • Cool Plane: The game feature numerous real life World War I planes.
  • Cool Airship: Some missions have you going after German Zeppelins. Covered with machine guns and capable of taking a lot of damage, these are some of the most challenging targets in the game.
  • Desk Jockey: Your commanding officers in both the British and American squadrons never fly missions. This somewhat unrealistic, as World War I squadron commanders tended to be combat pilots themselves.
  • Do a Barrel Roll: Being as this is a combat flight simulator, that is an option.
  • Easily Forgiven: The player's pilot and his friend Charles Dearing commit numerous violations of military regulations, sometimes involving criminal conduct, such as stealing planes for unauthorized missions. Yet they never face any serious disciplinary action from the squadron commanding officer, mainly because they are easily the best pilots in the squadron and their unauthorized actions usually result in positive things.
  • Escort Mission: Many of the missions in the campaign involve escorting bombers or recon planes to their targets. These planes are slow and have poor maneuverability (as they did in real life), but their combination of forward and rear firing guns makes them somewhat formidable. They can also take a lot of damage before going down.
  • Every Bullet is a Tracer: You can see where all your rounds go, though they are white rather then red.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Lisette during her execution. She calmly tells of how she was coerced into spying by the German air force officer who said he would guide German artillery fire to her family's home if she refused, and even says she chose to be caught rather than be responsible for others' deaths. The last thing she asks is for her executioners' aim to be true.
  • Foregone Victory: Regardless of your individual success or failure in missions, the outcome of the war will not change.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The player's pilot and his best friend, Charles Dearing.
  • High-Altitude Battle: It's a flight simulator, so of course it has these.
  • Informal Eulogy: Just like in Wing Commander, getting killed in action in this game will result in the player getting an elaborate funeral scene in which the squadron CO gives a speech. The content of the speech will differ depending on how much the player has progressed in the campaign.
  • Instant Death Bullet: There is a chance for you to get shot down quickly as a result of a lucky burst that hits your pilot. However, enemies can be killed as a result of this as well.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Landing your plane behind enemy lines will result in an image showing you being captured by German soldiers before you get a game over. Shooting down friendly planes will get you a court martial scene.
  • It's Personal: The player's character transfers to an American squadron specifically to hunt down the pilot who killed Charles Dearing and taunted him about it with an air-dropped message at Dearing's funeral.
  • Kick the Dog: In a cutscene, the player's character tells another pilot that he has seen Ulrich Gertman (the game's antagonist), continue to shoot the wrecks of his allied plane victims on the ground just so he could watch them burn. This never actually happens in the missions. It's clear the game has the character say this just for the purpose of making Gertman look evil.
  • Military Maverick: Your pilot and Charles Dearing.
  • Mission Briefing: Like Wing Commander, this game has interactive briefings, although this one isn't done with the whole squadron present, but simply involves your commanding officer bringing you into his office and telling you alone what the mission will involve. This might make sense if you are a senior officer and you are supposed to brief your fellow pilots, but this happens for every mission including the ones at the start of the game when you are a lowly 2nd Lieutenant.
  • Old-School Dogfight: Seeing as this is the first war to involve air combat, you don't get any more old school then this.
  • Plot Armor: While the nameless rookie pilots who sometimes serve are your wingmen can be shot down in missions, the named characters who you interact with between missions cannot. They can only die in scripted story events.
  • Protection Mission: Some missions you have to defend observation balloons, which are stationary, defenseless, and usually go up in flames with a single burst. You also occasionally have to defend various military targets from attack by enemy bombers, including your own Aerodrome.
  • Rank Up: You start the game as a 2nd Lieutenant and can get promoted all the way up to Major by the end.
  • Shot at Dawn: Lisette Beauregard is executed by firing squad after being caught as a German spy. Oddly enough, you are informed of her arrest and execution in a single cutscene after returning from a mission, before knowing she was ever spying before, meaning either she was arrested a long time ago and your CO didn't tell you until now, or British court system in this game moves at an insanely fast pace.
  • Skippable Boss: You don't actually have to shoot down Ulrich in the game's final mission. As long as you manage to land your plane safely, you'll still beat the game, even if Ulrich is unharmed.
  • Sub System Damage: Certain components of your plane can be damaged, including oil and fuel lines.
  • War Is Hell: The player's character goes through a phase in which he constantly laments the horrors of war in interactions between missions. Thankfully Dearing snaps him out of it.
  • Wingman: You have these on almost all missions.