Alright already! The volume of email on F4 has reached unbearable proportions. Since I can't afford to hire someone to answer all this mail, I am forced to offer an F4 update!
Unfortunately, I don't have much time to give this at the moment, so this update will only offer you a set of fixed views and a couple of out the window slewed virtual cockpit shots.
For the record, fixed views are STUNNING as is everything in this sim. The snap views, even at 1024x768 on my Matrox MGA G200, are instant. Scrolling views in the virtual cockpit are also great, though not quite fluid. Sub in the STB V4400, however, and even at 1024x768 the scrolling views become fluid. My test system is still a PII300 pending the arrival of a Celeron 300A to replace the bad one I received last week.
Many of you have also asked about system requirements. I believe the minimum will be a P166 with Voodoo1 and 32 meg of RAM. The recommended system becomes MUCH more subjective. My personal opinion is that few serious pilots will be happy with anything less that a PII 300 and 64 meg of RAM, running either Voodoo2 or a 3rd generation D3d board like the Matrox Mystique G200 or STB V4400.
As for HOTAS, you simply must have a separate stick and throttle to get the most from this sim, and if you are wise and wealthy you will add another programmable pad or two to complete the package. Yes, I am talking about complete TM, CH, Saitek or SUNCOM setup with Masterpilot Quickshot added for good measure. Rudder pedals aren't really necessary. For reviews of the various HOTAS systems check out the links by clicking HERE
Ok, enough with the numbers, let's get to it. This series of shots will cover the snap views moving left to right, then looking down, the centering and looking up in two stages. All shots taken at 800x600 on Matrox Mystique G200. Click for larger versions.
Incidentally, the reflections you see are a suited pilot, with various straps. In some of the larger shots you will clearly make out the helmet and mask reflections also. Combine these reflections with sound and motion (sense of speed is excellent) down low and you might as well be there. It is astounding....
Although I haven't taken the shots, you can continue snap views two more clicks on either side. You then get an eyeball 90 degrees left or right, or 135 degrees left or right. The furthest back you can turn your head is 135 degrees and you then have a view much like the AMRAAM launch shot at right and a bit up.
Click to continue
. . .
Yeh, I've managed to take out a few bandits in my explorations...
And some scrolling views to finish off...
Note also the horizon ball in some of these shots. A simple but effective technique to help you maintain orientation when you are travelling fast and low!
Now, what happens when you can no longer see the fuselage along the lower side of the canopy? In the views bottom left I am looking left and right 45 degrees off the front cockpit, respectively. If I click back to 90 degrees left and right, and then notch up so that I am looking straight out, I can no longer see the point where the canopy meets the fuselage. How will I stay oriented in padlock or snap views in this case?
Elementary! F4 does an incredible job of this. The combination of lift lines, dynamic reflections and added indicators all work together in a way I have never seen before. Check out these 90 degree left and right views.
In the shot immediately above you will notice two items in the lower right corner, and a small box upper right. The box says PAN: 90 RIGHT and TILT 0 UP. The red < indicator lower right points to the front of the cockpit. Add the dynamic reflections of my pilots right shoulder and you begin to get the idea!
When you are even higher up, or turning a tight corner in padlock, you will find the canopy reflections, which are always curved relative to your position and view, become VERY handy! After a short time you can actually tell by the reflections alone what your current orientation relative to the nose of your aircraft actually is. In most cases, however, if you have turned Lift Lines ON, you will find that any time you are looking anywhere near the canopy center you will have lift lines to orient you. Lift lines begin to show in the third shot from the top above.