|By Eric "Awol" Bishop|
Janes has once again created a fully realistic and fantastic flight simulator. F15 excels in its realistic flight model and in its communication system and packs a punch with a full-blown mission editor. This is one simulation that will have you learning how to fly all over again!
Since this is such a large simulation with loads of features in it I will break this review up into several parts. The mission builder alone is enough for one review!
The installation of F15 was UN-eventful and very smooth. With low, medium and full installation options to choose form I picked Full since I had wasted hard drive space just waiting to be used. The system I will do this review on is a:
I have had F15 for about 2 months now starting with two late betas and then finally getting the current released version about two weeks ago. When you start up F15 you'll see the traditional Janes Intro movie that leads to the hard rock intro to F15. I really like the intro movie with an MTV style video splash of F15 crews, planes and bomb blast all to a heavy metal beat. It makes you want to get up there and blow stuff up!
The main screen is broken down into several categories. Training, Campaigns, Instant mission, Multiplayer, Single mission or Edit mission, View objects and then if you click in the middle you can get the Option screens.
The Options screen allows you to configure your sound, video etc… One thing that stands out here is the custom joystick and keyboard mapping. This screen will allow you to assign any game function to any keyboard command you wish. For example: When I was in a mission and requested to refuel with the Tanker my wingman automatically turned on my NAV and Formation lights. After a successful refuel I could not figure out how to turn them off.
Its not a real good idea to go into enemy territory to bomb a target with your NAV/ Formation lights on. So I went into the keyboard mapping and found Formation Lights and assigned it to Shift N. Then saved it as a different name and walla, hit Shift N and lights out. This allows total flexibility of game controls, very nice! (Editor: for some reason the key mapper doesn't work with every key, in spite of the option appearing on the list. I tried mapping RADAR_MODE and it didn't work).
Training, Training and More Training:
The training section is where you will want to spend a lot of time, before you try any of the Campaigns. Here you can select from approx. 20 plus missions to learn the ins and outs of the F15E Strike Eagle. From Take off to Air to Air and Air to Ground missions there all there. Once you select a mission to fly, you will go to the briefing page. You can click on the map data to show your flight path and check out the briefing so you know what's expected in this mission.
You can also select Arming. Select this and you are placed in the Arming screen with your default load out all ready to go. If you select Custom you can then select any armament you wish. Since the F15E is primarily a strike aircraft there are Tons or weapons to choose from. From MK82 dumb bombs to GBU15 guided smart bombs, if the real F15E can carry it so can you. Another nice feature in the arming screen is the ability to save your bomb load. So if you created a loadout you like and think you will use it over again, this allows you to save it and then use it whenever you wish.
Here is a list of the weapons you can select:
As you can see its' a pretty big list and you have the flexibility to select what you want for the mission at hand.
The next menu option is the Target data screen. In here you will get a birds eye view of the target area showing your flights primary targets. Each is assigned a number to correspond to your flight. Each wingman is assigned a primary target and you can change this if you wish. You can zoom in and out of the map view to check out the serounding area.
After you've selected the weapons you wish and checked out your target, select Fly and away you go! Which brings up the next topic regarding Flight Model....
Yank and Bank
The flight model in F15 is absolutely the best I have ever experienced in a PC flight simulator. If you're used to yanking back on your flight stick all the time during a dogfight you're in for a learning curve here. If the F15 your flying is fully loaded with A/G weapons and you yank back on that stick your gonna be flying an overweighted, fat, slow pig! This will get you in trouble in a big way! You will have to learn to ease up on the stick and watch your airspeed.
When the bird gets low on speed it gets really mushy on the controls. Kick in the afterburners, but don't expect to be instantly back up to speed. In a dogfight you will really have to think about what you're doing. If you're at 250kts and your bogie goes vertical you might think twice before you follow it. This adds a lot of strategy to intercepts and wingman tactics.
As far as Stalls and spins I have not been able to get this bird into a spin yet. Janes has confirmed it can be done but because of the flight computer it's very hard to do. I have tried to get my computer damaged several times but have yet to get this done and then get into a spin. If someone figures this out please let me know. Bottom line on the flight model is it's the best I've seen and you get a good sensation of flight and control. Where do they go from here??
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Last Updated March 25th, 1998