by Leonard (Viking1) Hjalmarson
Click the image for a larger shot...
Jet Fighter III Mission Disk
Some months ago when Jet Fighter 3 hit the stands we were all agog at the incredibly high graphics detail, and incredibly weak frame rate. Thankfully most Jet Fighter series fans were able to turn down the detail enough to enjoy the sim.
A unique feature was the virtual carrier interface. I found myself enjoying wandering around prior to flight, it was DEFINITELY an atmospheric plus. Flight modelling in the sim was a bit weak, but all but the hard core crowd have enjoyed the game play and Mission Studios has done very well with the release.
So here we are a few months down the road and the update has arrived, though the 3d patch is still in process. Whats new? In the first place, the caching problem has been reduced. The terrain loading delays for me were as bad as in Flying Corps. The pauses are now much less frequent and shorter when they occur. I suspect that certain speed CD ROMS will still have some problems here, but they should be less noticeable.
Flight modelling has also benefitted in this update. No, we still aren't in Back to Baghdad or EF2000, but you will notice the difference. Previously rudder input was far too strong, and Mission Studios has toned it down as well as tweaking the model in general.
If you recall, Mission Studios originally promised us the ability to fly the F14 Tomcat. To a certain crowd that was a special attraction, and many were disappointed when it was missing from the release. Well, wait no further, the Tomcat has arrived! Another aircraft to fly adds a lot more atmosphere to the sim, not to mention some new weaponry like the Phoenix missile. I have to admit I really prefer the F14 to the F22, but maybe its just a nice reminder of the Fleet Defender days. Microprose was ahead of its time with that one, and I've missed it.
This update also adds some smaller tweaks like an improved target designator and flaps. Hardware flexibility has grown with support for more sound cards, and the ability to choose which COM port your Force FX joystick uses. If you happen to own the latter you may have been unable to use it at all previously since the stick really does PREFER COM1. Now you can try again without trying to adjust your entire IRQ setup.
Additional hardware flexibility includes support for more types of joysticks and sound support for a WIN95 DOS box. Joystick, throttle and rudder calibration has also become less finicky and loading time is reduced. (And did you know that you can import your own photo into the pilots records? You can read a pcx file, but it must be 200x200 and only use palette entries 128-248. Kind of a cute trick).
Mission Studios has labelled this release an "enhanced campaign" cd, so naturally, you will find another campaign in the box! I was a bit surprised to learn that the new terrain encompasses 5 million square miles, more than the entire original release! This brings the total to 8 million square miles... enough to keep most of us flying for quite a while! If you have an itch to explore Asia, Russia, or Alaska in an F14, now is your chance.
The Alaskan campaign means opposing a Russian force that has now made claims against US ownership. The majority of US forces have been withdrawn from Alaskan soil with the US betting that Russia will wait for a World Court ruling, and you are part of a peace-keeper carrier battle group dispatched to monitor the situation.
The Asian campaign finds China having moved to retake land that they believe is their by right. After the terrible Three Gorges Dam disaster and overpopulation problems, China is desperate to find new territory. The Rapid Deployment Force of which you are a part intends to maintain the balance of power in southeast Asia. The long range Phoenix missile is going to be particularly helpful as a persuasive method!
Ok, so the frame rate is still going to be a challenge. BUT we do have a 3d hardware patch under way (for 3dfx and Rendition based boards), and 3dfx support could arrive by mid June. Whether this patch will also support the Rush chipset is not clear, but from technical info supplied I doubt it.
The terrain enhancements in this update are great, and combined with the tweaked flight model I think JF3 is now going to appeal to a slightly wider crowd. Suspension of disbelief is still a big issue, and Mission Studios TEXTUREAL technology and 3DNA sequencing do help. You may notice a different FEEL to flying in this update. If the frame rate becomes fluid under 3d hardware we'll think we're in heaven and I'll be flying the F14 a lot more often.
The original JF3 includes the online encyclopedia..
As in the original release, you'll find you will want to run in straight DOS mode. An 8x or better CD will help, and 32 meg of RAM will allow you sufficient space for a much needed RAM cache. Programmable stick and throttle are the way to go, rudder is really unneccessary. Surround sound is supported and really is very cool; time to upgrade eh?
To download the 3dfx patch go to: Mission Studios
© 1997 - 2000 COMBATSIM.COM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated August 30th, 1997