Red Baron 3-D is a direct result of what can be accomplished when the developing company asks for and receives user feedback in a genuine effort to improve the product. Dynamix, under the Sierra umbrella, uses Red Baron II as a stepping stone to create a flying classic by introducing enhancements and features based on fan-based wish lists. Those who find fault with the game for not being a sufficiently new product to warrant purchase badly miss the point. Indeed, the Sierra web site offers an extensive upgrade patch to convert the existing Red Baron II to the 3D version, free of charge.
In reality, after the release of Red Baron II, it didn't take long before Dynamix quickly realized they had unleashed a terribly incomplete combat flight simulation, one dangerously close to suffering the ignominious failure of crashing and burning. It may be that the success of the original Red Baron invited complacency or that the company underestimated the legions of users who awaited a significantly improved version of it.
Having established the need for a fix, it may be confidently said that Red Baron 3-D's predecessor, Red Baron II, had many problems, ranging from poor graphical presentation to sluggish multi-player performance. Obviously, there is some truth in the contention that Red Baron 3-D is the product that should have been released originally. Fair enough.
Aspersions aside, however, praise for the company's actions in rectifying a bad situation can't be understated nor can their response be taken for granted. Under any circumstance, the investment of time, money and resources spent in providing a free upgrade is worthy of comment. The multi-player environment has been rebuilt from the ground up (to turn a phrase) and now soars magnificently with a user friendly and smooth operation that can support literally dozens of users simultaneously (another freebie). If that's not enough to whet the appetite of World War I air combat fans, perhaps the 40 unique airplanes, 22 of which are available for user control, will be.
Introduction of 3Dfx acceleration in conjunction with faithfully rendered clouds, planes and ground level features including towers, gun emplacements and buildings adds significantly to gameplay. But, first and foremost, the designers have left intact the major attraction of the simulation, namely, the incredibly easy to use interface and the almost unheard of elimination of any necessity for hours-long indoctrination, tutorials or painstaking learning curves. Nearly everyone who installs this game can be up and flying within minutes.
Even though the documentation insists that a joystick or flightstick is absolutely essential for playing the game, I'll report here that in single-player mode not only is keyboard control possible but that missions can be successfully completed using nothing more than keyboard input. Campaigns and single missions are offered for player enjoyment as is a Mission Builder that allows for complete mission customization or creation. Don't like your airplane's color and insignia? No problem, just wheel your favorite machine into the Plane Paintshop and have at it.