PC Pilot

The Complete Guide to Computer Aviation
by Steve Smith


Falcon 3.0's Kuwait is presented as a reprise of the 1991 Gulf War. Israel and Panama are set in the near future. Pakistan and Korea (both part of "Operation: Fighting Tiger") are also not too far removed in time, or, quite possibly, in reality. The Kurile Islands campaign (also "Fighting Tiger") seems less probable—the Russians are far more likely to return the islands to Japan than they are to go to war over them. Indeed, the Rules of Engagement in this theater go out of their way to lessen the likelihood of triggering World War III. The Bosnian scenario is as depressing as the real thing.

The graphics…well, the graphics are not so hot—somewhere between the billiard table landscape and triangular mountains of Flight Simulator 4.0 and the semirealistic scenery of, say, Tornado (see Chapter Thirteen). Your plane and the other F-16s are rendered schematically but recognizably, which is more than I can say for most of the opposing aircraft (one of which is a mysterious unmanned fighter sent aloft by the crafty Russkies). You can go to a menu and change the scale to get a better look at the other players, but the best way to make a positive ID is to go to the "Padlock" view (a 360-degree visual panorama from the cockpit perspective) and get a "named" target lock. Neither method has any basis in reality. (For sticklers, there is a true-to-life IFF transponder.)

With a sound board, the sound effects aren't all that great either, except when a missile or a bomb hits the ground: not only do you feel a "whump" but you see shock rings spreading out in circles from the explosion. The other great visual effect: vortices streaming off the wingtips when pulling tight turns. The engine sound is curiously unmodulated from taxiing on the ground all the way to Stage 5 afterburner, but the digitized speech sounds authentically military (that is, barely intelligible).

All this munificence comes at a price, but it isn't software you'll be spending big bucks on, it's hardware. I reckon you'll need a 25-MHz 486 at a minimum (a 33-MHz 386 doesn't react quickly enough). And, since this sim needs slightly more than 600K of memory, you'll need DOS 5.0 or 6.0 with a memory manager, and at least two megs of RAM (twice that if you want decent sound and ACMI time). Finally, you'll need twelve megs of hard disk space (plus about another half dozen megs for each add-on) and local bus VGA to squeeze every last drop out of the limited graphics capabilities of this game.

If, after a couple of hundred hours, say, of game play, you find you are not merely surviving but prevailing (Faulkner), I'd seriously suggest you look into a career with the United States Air Force (or Stern's Wildcats; see next chapter).

Lockheed F-22 Lightning 2

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