|"The Art of War" F-16 MRF and MiG-29 Fulcrum
by Bubba "Masterfung" Wolford and Thomas "AV8R" Spann
NOVALOGIC has come out with a twin pack military flight sim combo that really hits the non-hard-core crowd with a bullseye. Bubba "MasterFung" Wolford and I decided to team up and jointly review this sim. Bubba chose his favorite mount, the Viper, leaving the Soviet built Fulcrum for me. In our two pass handling of Nova's new sims, I will review the MiG-29 and give the broad brush on the overall features, and Bubba will fly the F-16 and supply the finer brush on the "realistic" modeling aspects.
So for now we will say our goodbyes to our friend Bubba and depart onto our MiG-29 checkout flight. Being a Su27-Flanker diehard, sliding into the powder blue cockpit was old hat (or should I say helmet?). Altitude in meters, speed in mach or KPH, and familiarity with those East block weapons will scare the timid. For those with a desire to do homework it's great fun. I have found that there is a particular appeal to a subset of the virtual pilots that actually prefer Soviet built aircraft.
Well- OUR day has come again. What's more, for those of you that share my bent for multiplayer sims, this flight sim combo is right down our MiG alley.
While we have by now all seen Falcon4, Jane's F15E, Flanker2, iF18 CSF and other cutting edge flightsims; let's not get caught up in comparing Nova's new release with that high level of sophistication (a.k.a. hard-core). While Nova claims F-16 MRF to be modeled after the Lockheed simulator, and the MiG-29 Fulcrum to have been crafted under the consultation of MiG test pilot Yuri Prikhodko, these are NOT high fidelity flight models (FM), avionics and weapon systems. What we do have here is a solid mid range sophistication flight sim in company with the likes of: Jane's IAF, Jane's Fighters Anthology, F22 TAW, iF16, etc.
Graphically, MiG29 has handsome looks, as can judge yourself from these pictures. I have an Intel P2-300 with a CL 12mb Voodoo2 3D accelerator system. What really took me by surprise was that the canopy has cockpit reflections on it, and still the frame rate was silky smooth, up high or down low. Usually its very hard to get a sense of speed on the hard deck, especially without a lot of ground objects like trees for reference, but it comes together nicely. This makes terrain masking and canyon running fun.
As for terrain, there are the following to choose from: savannah, jungle, glacial, desert, steppe. With mountains, valleys, bodies of water, plains and airports; there is plenty of scenery and realistic terrain that the real MiG sees in differing theaters of operation.
The other graphical features are: fog and haze effects, cloud layers with transparency, smoke, vapor trails, sun glare, rocket motor smoke. MiGs graphical weaknesses are in its implementation in explosions, visual damage, tracer streams, HUD displays and cockpit graphics. The result, however, is a fast running and visually appealing combination that works very well for this sim.
When developers put together flight sims, they have to make a lot of tough design trade-offs. With Jane's IAF, we saw a sharp and crisp 2D cockpit art, but a shimmering terrain at low level flight due to the photo-realistic satellite technology. Here in MiG we see a 3D not-so-sharp cockpit, but a smooth low level 3D rendered terrain.
I do believe that both make for excellent high altitude terrain graphics, its down low where you have to choose between realism versus pixelization and resolution effects. It's great to have both done for us by different game developers; we learn a lot about technology this way. (Did you ever wonder if Israel's enemies might make use of IAF as a strike practice simulation being that it has accurate satellite terrain mapping? Can you imagine Sadaam in his bunker with his tricked out computer flying Back To Bagdad or IAF?) Oh well, I digress…
On to weapon systems modeling. The weapons are detailed enough to allow visual identification which has now become a standard. Note the bug in the picture with the wing loadout. The port side wing is not attached to the plane. (Usually it's the weapons that magically hang from their hard points).
On the positive side, this same picture shows the orientation markings on the canopy while you are scrolling around in the virtual cockpit. We can also see the good high altitude graphics, canopy reflections and our AI wingman. When you're employing your air2air weapons, you will have audible tones for the seekers. If you get hit by gun fire, you will hear the pings against your ship.
Damage modeling is done at a level where you lose some performance, lose targeting systems and have the warning horn blaring. Not high fidelity here, but better than the one hit, then KABOOM days of the past. Missiles behave within advertised ranges and can be out-maneuvered with proper use of spoofing, beaming, ground masking, speed and angels..
Go to Part II
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Last Updated October 12th, 1998