|E3 1998 Modern Sim Survey
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
E3 was crammed with military flight simulations this year, not the least of which were based on modern aircraft. In this survey we'll look at the following:
Formerly Proactive Software, Razorback was founded by some former Digital Integration people whose credits include Tornado, Apache Longbow, and Hind. Yes, these guys have some solid simulation experience! In fact, Tornado is still considered one of the best simulations ever made and maintains a solid following. The four founders of Razorback are Kevin Bezant, Todd Gibbs, Dave Proctor and Matt Smith. Ian Tasker left DID to join the Razorback team.
These early shots from their first project take some of the pain away from the loss of FN2. Razorback’s first title is ‘Apache Havoc’, a combat flight simulator featuring two adversary attack helicopters, the American ‘Apache Longbow’ and the Russian ‘Havoc’. With these screen shots in mind the next part of the project sounds even more interesting....
Razorback intend to create a follow on sim titled ‘Comanche Hokum’ which features two scout/attack helicopters, the American ‘Comanche’ and Russian ‘Hokum’. Both titles will be fully interconnectable creating an awesome combat helicopter package! With designers from Tornado and Hind on the job you can bet we will see realistic ATO and highly developed mission planning.
Both simulations will allow you to choose sides: fly for the Russians (Papa Doc?) or the Americans. Both simulations will also come with their own manual, but once both have been released you will be able to fly any machine in any environment. So if your favorite campaign is on the first release you can fire up the Comanche from the second release and take on the Havoc in that setting. Cool!
Cutting edge features include dynamic campaigns, dynamic weather and forests. Like JSF and Flight Unlimited II, Apache-Havoc will have us flying in thunderstorms, high winds and rain, fog, drizzle and even snow. Since this sim is being released well after Voodoo 2, the team have a LOT of processing power and special effects to work with! This shot give you an idea of what we will see for weather effects.
Physics modelling will be state of the art, with torque effects, ground effect and all those goodies we have come to see as basic to a realistic simulation. Systems detailing should exceed that of DI's HIND, and when the weather gets bad you will have to actually turn on your wipers to see through the rain!
Apache-Havoc will feature FOUR dynamic campaigns, two set in forested areas (yes, finally trees will become tactically important!) and two others that will amphibious assaults where you will depart and return from the deck of a carrier. But WHAT a carrier!
Here are some comments from Razorback:
The sim is built from the ground up as a multiplayer sim. In fact this was the first part of the code to be completed. We have been flying around in multiplayer Lan mode (8 players) since last October. The multiplayer game will work in exactly the same way as the single player game.
"Behind the scenes" there is movement network and supply routing. Each game will therefore be different, as the enemy responds to attack, defence and supply considerations. During the campaign, you can stop and "rest" at FARP's or in forest clearings (take a close look at the forest canopy and -sides- of the forest) awaiting orders or suggested mission/targets. Front lines will be shown on the situational map supplied with each of the 4 campaign areas. Air strikes and artillery strikes can be requested although not always granted).
All altitude and Geographic data is courtesy of the USGS and US Satellite Mapping Projects. We have developed tools that build the landscapes relatively quickly (note that they are 25 times the size of Longbow 2 scenarios.) The Apache-Havoc geography will feature forests and marine-type amphibious assault campaigns. Commanche-Hokum will feature 4 additional areas, but will be desert/ice scenarios. Multiplayer mode WILL be available in the campaigns.
The terrain is rugged and combined with a dense forest canopy ‘line of sight’ tactics become a significant part of the gameplay. Naturally, the forest is penetrated by roads, rivers and hydro corridors including electric towers creating a landscape well suited to low-level helicopter combat.
At E3 I watched Mark Havens fly the Apache along some power lines, over a river and over some very detailed terrain. The rain and wind were whipping against the chopper and Mark started the wiper, which swept across the screen every few seconds. The flight modeling already looks quite solid and the detail on the choppers themselves is very good. Apache Havoc is planned for release in October, 1998 by Empire Interactive.
Phil Allsopp of General Simulations, Inc. had Aggressor up and running on a Pentium II system at E3. It was obvious by the accompanying Thrustmaster gear that Phil takes his flying seriously. The aircraft felt quite good, and the sim fully models the F16 fly-by-wire system. Detailing in systems and the cockpit also looked solid.
The look of the sim reminded me of DI's F16 after the 3d hardware patch. The feel is similar as well. The goal is to include independent AI for the ground war, so integration may be higher than we have seen in some other F16 sims to date.
GSI aims to support a large number of graphics boards, and the minimum spec machine is said to be a P90. But if you have the power, you can crank resolution up to 1280x1024 in 32 bit color. Geography will be African landscape that includes detailed terrain from Madagascar, The Rift Valley, Morocco and Ethiopia. We should see this one late summer.
Go to Part IV
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Last Updated June 5th, 1998