by Leonard (Viking1) Hjalmarson
- AMD K6 233, 64 meg SDRam, 1 meg cache
- Matrox Millenium 4 meg
- Canopus Pure 3d
- 12x Plextor SCSI CD
- Seagate Cheetah SCSI-3 4.1 GB
- Ubisoft Game Theatre 64
- SUNCOM SFS and Talon, CH pedals
When Digital Integration released F16 Fighting Falcon last year it was a good simulation of the F16, and although it lacked a dynamic campaign, it shipped with a great mission builder. However, it was somewhat hampered by an older graphics engine (state of the art hardware at the time was a P200MMX).
Then in December DI released a beta Review). Now DI has outdone themselves by releasing a great package of simulation fun in Front Line Fighters!
Front Line Fighters is the full meal deal, combining three DI titles in one box for the price of a single sim. As if that weren't enough, all three titles now have new life under 3dfx acceleration! Front Line Fighters contains FULL versions of Apache-Longbow, HIND and F-16 Fighting Falcon all running under the F16 enhanced graphics engine and 3d acceleration! This really is good news, because Apache-Longbow and Hind were great sims in their day and are a lot of fun when connected together.
Hind was released just before the time I started taking chopper sims seriously. In spite of that fact I remember the enjoyment of friends and the babble among sim fans in general. Hind did a great job of systems simulation and even had a respectable flight model. DI also did a great job with Apache, and DI was ahead of the pack in providing the Hind/Apache duo, allowing head-to-head engagements in the serious chopper class.
When I loaded up Hind I was a bit surprised at its familiar but improved look. Really, it looks pretty darn good under the F16 engine, but it FEELS so different from any Longbow sim in flight that its a new experience. With the fantastic frame rate offered by 3d acceleration no one will be complaining in that department! The sim now also benefits from all the joys of 3d hardware... clouds, smoke and fog. Perfect!
Hind is also unique in its ATO. Until Janes Longbow expanded our roles with the Blackhawk and Kiowa Warrior the missions tended to be a bit repetitive. In some ways DI were pioneers in the multi-role experience since the Hind is a multi-role attack helicopter. The Hind is used for insertions and extractions, escort and attack, and Close Air Support. Its also a very TOUGH adversary and built like a tank. Yeh, it was a bit of a treat to load this up...
If you don't have 3d hardware, Hind will still run without it. Ditto for Apache. The bonus of this package is that you get BOTH sims, BOTH CDs and can go ahead and pass one on to your buddy and get in there and get dirty in head to head combat. Very, very nice!
F16 Fighting Falcon
As if that weren't enough, the package includes F16 Fighting Falcon with the completed 3dfx patch AND the Afghanistan Campaign Disk. And you wont' have any patching to do because the exe has been updated with 3dfx support ready to go.
Sim fans are already commenting that the terrain in the Afghanistan campaign is the best of the bunch for F16. There is something familiar here too, either the Flight Unlimited experience in the Grand Canyon or EF2000 in the fjords of Norway. There are some impressive canyons and steep-sided valleys in Afghanistan, and they will add a new level of challenge to your low level ingress or egress. In fact in the second mission I flew I was tailed by two MiGs and I watched one meet a fiery end in a narrow passage of the canyon.
The new campaign includes ten new single missions plus the campaign itself in the same mode as the original release. No, its not dynamic, but its a good branching design with plenty of action. The mission tasking and overview component is still here and as good as its original release last year.
Personally, I'm not crazy about re-releases and most GOLD versions leave me COLD. Thankfully, there are exceptions, and Flying Corps GOLD is one. DI's Front Line Fighters is another.
Its not clear to me whether this package will be available through the standard mail order outlets, and I've sent a note to DI asking for clarification on that. But hopefully it will be, because its a great bundle and you can run these sims on anything from a P90 to a PII 333. If you DO have 3dfx acceleration and don't want a steep learning curve, this is one great bargain at about $60 US.
Visit Digital Integrations web site.
Last Updated February 20th, 1998