First Eagles has had fair success in the PC games market, although its impact has a lot to do with the game having an 'open architecture' allowing others to modify and improve aspects of it and add new planes, terrain, weapons etc.
In 2007, First Eagles: Expansion Pack 1 was released that adds the Sopwith Camel, Albatros D.III, Albatros D.Va, and Fokker Dr.I. This pack also includes new campaigns set over the Cambrai sector of France.
In 2008, First Eagles: Gold, a combo pack that contains both the original First Eagles and Expansion Pack 1, was released.
In Feb 2010, "First Eagles 2" was released, following the trend of upgrading to be compatible with Vista and Windows 7.
The game is based on the "Strike Fighters" engine developed by Third Wire Productions.
Every encounter in WWI aerial combat is a close range turning dogfight that can have many outcomes including the planes colliding, spinning out of control, crashing into the ground, being hit by Anti Aircraft Artillery, or being shot down or killed, depending on the game skill level set and the players skill level.
The game has inherited the "Strike Fighters" engine and so has been designed to be relatively easy to get into. This gives it the tag 'Lite Simulation' which is opposed to hardcore 'study simulations' such as Falcon 4.0 where the learning curve is much steeper. After flying one plane you should be able to hop into any of the other planes and fly them with minimum practice. In reality the Lite category tag places the game halfway between Arcade and Simulation.
The game has a useful 'Single Mission' option that allows the user to choose their mission, aircraft type, weapons, year, nationality, weather, and time of day, and look at a map of the mission area. A set of names are generated to be included on the squadron roster and they are allocated varying skill levels (ranks), which is useful to know when they are flying as your wing men. The Single Mission mode is a good chance to practice for the Campaign mode because it gives all the mission types that the user will face in any campaign.
Mission types include:
- Intercept: Scramble to intercept incoming enemy bombers before they reach the target.
- Offensive Patrol: Patrol waypoints over the lines and destroy any enemy aircraft in the target area.
- Defensive Patrol: Patrol waypoints on your side on the lines and destroy any enemy aircraft in the target area.
- Army Co-Operation: Destroy enemy tanks/infantry on the battlefield. (Although there are no tanks and infantry on the battlefield. You need user-made mods for this.)
- Armed Reconnaissance: Search out and destroy enemy ground units.
- Reconnaissance: Fly to and observe an assigned target.
Flying over the terrain can be long and lonely, although just like the dawn patrols of the Great War the sky can be saturated with a vast array of friendly and enemy aircraft. A time acceleration feature is built into the game as well as a feature to let you warp to the target, although this later feature can place the player in the middle of trouble.
Bombing targets is difficult and the user has to practice dive and low level bombing to complete missions. The planes are of purely WWI tech, as one would expect, and thus have no bombing aids.
Dogfighting, much like the actual Great War, is always necessary thanks to the wild unpredictability of the Le Prieur rockets (available in add-ons). Machine guns have a maximum range of about 0.3 nautical miles, ensuring close-knit scrambles.
Flying over populated enemy territory will result in the Archie bombardment, which, together with available add-on AAA, is deadly at low altitudes, but simply an irritation above certain levels (much like the real Archie).
Flyable aircraft of the original game:
Flyable aircraft of the Expansion Pack 1:
Non-flyable aircraft of the original game:
Non-flyable aircraft of the Expansion Pack 1:
The developer of the series
This series of games is designed by Tsuyoshi Kawahito (known as 'TK'), who was also involved in some of the 1990s best selling PC flight simulators, including European Air War (1998) by MicroProse and Longbow 2 (1997) by Jane's Combat Simulations.
Related games based on the Strike Fighters game engine
- Strike Fighters: Project 1 (2002): The initial release centers on a fictional Middle Eastern scenario.
- Strike Fighters: Gold (2004): An updated version of Project 1 released to the European market.
- Wings Over Vietnam (2004): Set during the Vietnam war.
- Wings Over Europe (2006): Set in a possible Cold War conflict.
- First Eagles: The Great War 1918 (2006): Set in the World War I era.
- First Eagles: Expansion Pack 1 (2007): Expansion pack for the First Eagles with new planes and campaigns.
- Wings Over Israel (2008): Covers the three historical Israel versus Arab conflicts 1967, 1973, and 1982.
- First Eagles: Gold (2008): Includes the Original 'First Eagles' and Expansion Pack together.
- Strike Fighters 2 (2008): An update to Strike Fighters: Project 1 to run on Windows Vista.
- Strike Fighters 2:Vietnam (2009): A standalone update based on the original Wings Over Vietnam to run on Windows Vista.
- Strike Fighters 2:Europe (2009): A standalone update based on the original Wings Over Europe to run on Windows Vista.