by Eric "Awol" Bishop
Quick View Ratings
Learning Curve 12 Hrs
Fun Factor 100
Info on Ratings
This is probably one of the hardest simulators to review because of all the wonderful things you get with it. I am not even sure where to begin. If you have a 3dfx card, this is probably the best sim out on the market today. The Janes group has once again gone beyond the call of duty and delivered a true masterpiece. From the 3dfx graphics, to the true feeling of being there, along with a great manual, reference card and all the other things you get with this sim, it is a true piece of art. Ok, now that I got that off my chest lets take a peek inside.
Whatís in the box:
A great 7-chapter 200 plus page spiral bound manual that goes over every part of this simulator. One fold out Reference card for quick glance keystroke help. Install guide for troubleshooting, joystick and Windows 95 information Multi-player Guide with information on how to connect Longbow 2 to other virtual pilots out there.
The install for me at least was very painless. Slipped the CD into the PC and away I went. You choose from three different options, 170MB, 290MB and 420MB. I choose the 420MB installation since I only have an 8xís CD ROM drive and had plenty of hard disk space. The option for installing Direct x is there and it will allow you to bypass if you already have it installed on you machine. Longbow 2 will also create a shortcut on your desktop if you so desire.
Once everything was installed on my PC I quickly started up Longbow 2! The recognizable Janes intro was the first thing youíll see and then your greeted with a great intro movie with Tanks assaulting a refinery and blowing up all kinds of buildings while under the watchful electronic eye of a Kiowa Warrior. Iíll leave the rest of the intro to you so I donít spoil the movie.
The first screen youíll interact with is the Base screen. Here you will choose all the different parts of Longbow 2, Select Pilot, Training, Multi-play, campaigns and single missions, plus quick combat. Just move your mouse around the different buildings and hangers and select where you want to go. Bootcamp!
Training is fantastic. You can select Basic Longbow, Kiowa and Blackhawk training. These training missions are full speech and will step you through and get you flying in no time. The only thing I noticed here was if I was in autohover mode it would disengage every time the next speech element was being loaded. Not a big deal, but something to keep your eye on. You can also select Flight training, Advanced Longbow training and free flight Gunnery training to sharpen your sword with. Free flight gunnery is a great way to practice flight techniques and bob-up tactics before entering combat since you canít get shot down and itís a fun way to just blow stuff up.
The graphics in Longbow 2 are jawdropping. I canít tell you how many times I had to change my shirt from drooling over the things I was seeing! With 3dfx it is truly a marvel. The helicopters seem to be alive! Rotors spin, transparent smoke, lens glare from the sun and the terrain looks like real terrain. If you donít have a 3dfx card and can afford to drop down some cash this is a good reason to do it.
Longbow 2 has pushed the simulator market to a new level. The night vision feels and looks like the real thing. To be hovering at 50ft in pitch black and then fire off a hellfire is truly incredible. Call in an artillery strike on a group of enemies and sit back to watch the fireworks and lighting show. The ground illuminates as each round hits and shadows of tanks appear out of nowhere for brief instances as the rounds hit home. The tracers look like desert storm footage. I recently hooked up a multiplayer session where we each were in our own Longbow. As we approached the enemy tank column some infantry opened up on us from our flank. Tracers were flying everywhere and made me crouch in my seat for cover. You really feel like you are there!
Along with the great graphics, you get more than just the Longbow to fly. Also included are the Black Hawk transport helicopter and the Kiowa Warrior scout. Each is fun to fly and is a challenge to learn. In the Black Hawk you can fly in the pilots seat or from its two door gun positions. Coming in on a HOT LZ is a real "pucker factor" in the Black Hawk, seems like you canít get those troops off or on fast enough. The Kiowa allows you to fly as the pilot or the co-pilot and can carry a limited amount of ammunition, but enough to get you out of a tough spot.
Instant action and the single missions are where you will spend a lot of time before taking on the dynamic campaigns. You can select a wide variety of options before you fly. Choose random weather or choose to have heavy artillery support etcÖ its all there. Want to fly a night mission in the fog? Just select the options and away you go. You can fly all of these missions in multiplay also.
Multiplay is very easy to access also. Select from Modem, LAN, Direct connect or TCP/IP. I have not tried the modem links or direct connect, but I have tried the LAN and TCP/IP connections. Over Kali I have tried numerous times to connect via IPX (LAN) but have never got it to work correctly. (Ed. Note: LB2 does not purport to support Kali. For Internet play, Longbow 2 supports TCP/IP. For real LANs, it supports IPX. Kali is a hack, albeit a good one, that pretends to be a LAN over the Internet. Kali was invented because so many games did not directly support TCP connectivity very well. Kali can, however, be used as a meeting place for LB2 pilots).
TCP/IP on the other hand is flawless. The only limitation there that I have witnessed is you are limited to two players. I have heard that some have gotten 3 players to link successfully, but I have not. Flying over the Internet with a friend is a lot of fun and really adds to the feeling of "being there". Watching your buddy take out a column of tanks while you cover his six and then mop up the area with you cannon is a real treat. You can also sit in the front seat while your buddy flyís in the back, picking out targets and laser designating targets for them to take out with their cannon. Get overwhelmed and call in some air strikes or artillery itís all there and in 3dfx cutting edge style.
I have not gone into the dynamic campaign, as I have not flown many missions yet in this mode to give you a fair review. I have flown only three missions in campaign mode and it is a real treat. You can fly in three different campaigns. Azure Rune NTC Ft. Irwin US equipment vs. US equipment. Azure Rune NTC Ft. Irwin US equipment vs. Russian equipment and the third campaign in Azerbaijan. All are fully dynamic and a new war is created each time you start a new campaign. You can select time limits, enemy AI and limited equipment if you choose or keep the options off and not worry about those things. (Ed Note: for more info on the campaign see Preview 2).
There is so much to this that it will take a lot of time to touch all aspects of the simulator.
Longbow 2 has stunning graphics and loads of options to choose from, this is truly a fantastic buy. If you were wondering what to ask Santa for Christmas, ask for Longbow 2 and a 3dfx board if you donít have one. You will definitely be glad you did.
Editor: Combat Simulations awards "Simulation of the Year" to Longbow 2. Its innovative, exceptional, flexible, and a LOT of fun! Congratulations to the Skunkworks team for a fine piece of work and for raising the bar for 1998!
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Last Updated October 14th, 1997