|"The Art of War" F-16 MRF and MiG-29 Fulcrum
by Bubba "Masterfung" Wolford and Thomas "AV8R" Spann
I was asked by the editor to cover this product because of my extensive knowledge of the F16 and its systems. Novalogic has packaged this product with this claim: "To ensure that gamers experience an authentic flight sim, Novalogic has worked closely with Lockheed Martin F-16 Chief Test Pilot John Fergione, who provided vital information on the F-16's flight model and avionics." What is implied is that virtual pilots are experiencing something approximating the real world F16.
Although I was happy to have a look at this bundle from Novalogic, I have to admit I was not very excited about it. I know Novalogic's reputation for more action oriented games, and since becoming a Beta tester of Microprose' Falcon 4, the thought of flying something "light" was not very appealing to me.
From the perspective of a hardcore sim fan, making the game "light" allows pilots with inferior skill to be able to defeat technically superior pilots. In the real world it's not really the plane that wins fight, but the pilot. However, I think we can agree that this philosophy only counts when the planes are at least close to being equal. If one aircraft is vastly superior in BFM than the other it won't matter who pilots the aircraft. If one plane can't perform anywhere near the capability of the other, the weaker platform is going down.
What is scary about this is that in real life this would not be much of a problem. I have yet to feel tense while dogfighting a MiG-21 in Falcon 4 simply because I know that unless I merge with the MiG at less than 200 knots (assuming I have a proper A2A loadout) I am going to pull around on the inferior MiG and kill him with relative ease. However, in games that sport "light" flight models, this problem becomes a real issue because pilot skill is negated to a large extent and suddenly the field is "evened out".
Similiarly, I felt the same way about the Falcon 4 competition at E3. By not using the most difficult settings on ALL levels in the competition (radar modeling was set to easy to allow everyone to see exactly where their opponent was at all times) and forcing us to wingtip to wingtip before we began BFM, they were in effect "balancing" the field.
What I wanted was to have everything truly accurate. The reason was simple: I had spent a lot of hours flying on the real simulator and by making the options easier, it allowed my opponents more room to make mistakes and lighten their workload. I knew how to fight BFM and BVR with the real settings in the F-16 and I didn't want my opponents to not have to work through those realism settings
My feelings from the competition were similar to those I felt when I was playing F-16 MRF and MiG-29 Fulcrum: the game would be too simple, predictable and in the end, penalize the superior pilots for lack of realism. While I still harbor many of those feelings, overall I have been impressed with the value of F-16 MRF and MiG-29 Fulcrum.
The Fulcrum part was appealing due to its great dogfight characteristics and I felt the opportunity to play it was too much to pass over. As it has turned out, Thomas Spann and I (you read his review of MiG-29 Fulcrum last week) decided to team-up and do this jointly. As he stated in his review he chose the Fulcrum while I took my old stable horse, the F-16.
This has been a great experience for me since Thomas "AV8R" is a fantastic guy and a good pilot. It's been great to split our strengths so we can each focus on certain aspects of the game and provide the consumer a better picture of what this game offers.
My part is to review the "realistic" aspects of the game and provide some insight as to how it stacks up to the real thing. Both games are essentially similar barring the aircraft they simulate. Both cockpits lack the click-able modes of Janes F-15 or Interactive Magic's iF/A-18, although like F22 ADF, you can zoom into the MFDs by clicking on them. Both games are essentially identical in features and options.
After receiving my F16/MiG-29 bundle I promptly loaded them both in my computer and fired F16 up first.
After setting my options as I desired, my first impression was an astounding WOW!! Graphics are OUTSTANDING. Especially in SLI at 1024*768 (Novalogic directly supports SLI and are proud of it). On my 21" ViewSonic G810, the picture was very clear and vibrant. I know Novalogic is known for great graphics but they have really out done themselves with this beauty.
As I looked around, I noticed that a few B1-B's were taking off so I decided to just watch them at first, then proceeded down the runway to catch up with them. Frame rates as expected were outstanding. After noticing a few "inaccuracies" in the F16 modeling I flew patterns and decided to fire up MiG-29 to see how she handled. Fulcrum was equally beautiful and after performing some aerobatic maneuvers, I played with the flight model to see where she stood and then landed.
Go to Part II
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Last Updated October 21st, 1998