Click for larger image.
The briefing had called for 500 feet at 600 knots to IP from our last steer
point. My wing leader, RHINO, called it lower and we streaked across the Korean terrain at
Business was good. I had plenty of work: keep my wing leader in sight, keep my
plane out of the dirt, watch for bandits, watch for SAMs, watch for ground attacks, stay
Task Saturation was eminent.
I called AWACS for threat warnings,
calculated their call and figured I have bandits at about 20 miles at my 10 oclock
but not heading for us yet. RHINO pulled up hard at IP and called "Running
In" as he rolled toward the target.
Suddenly a puff of smoke from the ground about 1
where RHINO was, then another. "SAM SAM" I called over the
radio. RHINO pulled up hard and left
popping CHAFF all the way. They missed him,
but he was out of his attack pattern. I would be the first one in. As I reach IP, I hear
(AI) pilots attacking the bandits AWACS warned me about, "Thank you" I think to
one less problem to worry about.
I rolled into the approach and called "Running In." I
didnt want to be over the target long, so I was planning a high-speed pass, in line
with the runway we were supposed to bomb. I lined up, this was gonna be easy.
all 6 of my bombs right over the runway and shoved the throttle into full burner. It was
like my pickle switch was the AAA switch as well. They lit me up immediately. I took a
couple of hits and my burners dropped to a max of 112%. Damn
this was a bad sign. I
pulled the throttle back to just under full mil thrust and jinked hard to the right. I was
out of the AAA spray as I heard RHINO call "Running In" again.
RHINO made it through without taking any hits
all bombs on
target. As we egressed he radioed that I was smoking pretty bad and I reported my damage.
We nursed it to our diversion base and requested Emergency Landing, which was granted. I
will blame the damaged aircraft, but I didnt get the call sign CRASH for be highly
skilled at landing. The landing gear collapsed on landing from a bit too harsh of a touch
down, but I slid off the runway and was safe. BDA showed that the airfield had been shut
down. All 12 of our weapons were on target.
Welcome to the Campaign World of FALCON 4! The latest beta has
shown an amazing amount of progress. Jeff "RHINO" Babineau and I spent most of a
weekend putting FALCON 4s campaign engine through its paces in LAN co-operative
mode. As you can see from the intro, we were pretty impressed. FALCON 4 will come with
three campaign variants based in Korea, each one differing in the amount of territory and resources each side begins with.
Once in the
campaign, you get the feeling that a massive war is going on. Many simulations give you an
air war, but vaguely elude to a ground war. You occasionally may get CAS missions in these
sims, but rarely will you just happen across a ground unit, much less a battle. In FALCON
4, you will catch glimpses of tracers on the ground in the distance. Hunt down the source
and you will regularly come across artillery and armor battles. With object density and
full details turned all the way up, I have seen many battles of well over 100 units. But
be careful how close you fly, the enemy may think you are CAS and fire on you as well.
Ground War Images. Click for Larger View.
Also, supply lines are rarely implemented in simulations. FALCON 4 will not
only use supply lines, but they will have effects upon the troops. Cut off the supplies to
that enemy force that has been harassing your front line, and they will start to diminish
in effectiveness. I have been unable to completely cut off an area in solo play yet (I
usually leave all that Mud Moving stuff to the guys that are good at in when we LAN play),
so I have not yet seen a marked difference. I expect out next full LAN test to give us the
opportunity to work on this.
The campaign is real time. You can pause it, or speed it up, but as you
play, the world goes on. And I mean a lot of stuff goes on. Just as you can watch ground
battles you can see air battles. F-4s and MIG-29s are easy to pick out thanks to the
realistic tattle tale smoke these aircraft are known for. I have flown campaign missions
as a Strike Package and seen my escort of F-15Cs and F-4 Wild Weasel flights
F4 smoke trail. Click for larger image.
This brings up
mission selection. Missions are displayed based on a variety of variables you have the
ability to select. Each squadron has a specialty, A2A, A2G, general etc., so your mission
selection will be dependant on what unit you choose to fly in. You can also pick your PAK,
which will tell the mission generator what area you would like to emphasize your talents.
It is also used to tell the mission generation system what sort of missions you would like
to see in that area and it will build accordingly.
Strategy Selection Option
Screens. Click for Larger Image.
Now you get a mission selection screen that you
can view the area, briefing, Take Off time, load out etc, and decide if this is the
mission for you. The missions are well described and "briefed". You must also
make sure you pay attention to your flights call sign for the mission since all radio
information will be broadcast to this call sign. You will hear many bits of information,
but if you do not know you are "VIPER1", you may not pay attention to the
information intended for you.
You should also note the names for your Escort and Wild
Weasel flights so you can keep tabs on your entire package. What if you forget? Don't worry,
the working knee board will give you the vital essentials for your mission as well.
Missions include every thing from RECON, BDA assessment, STRIKE, ESCORT, SWEEP, BARCAP,
etc. If an F-16 can be tasked for it in real life
you can do it here.
Click to continue . . .
pick a mission, you can change your loadout and steer points. There is no campaign mission
generator, which is realistic, but you have some latitude in what you take and how you get
in and out, which is realistic as well (at least from the squadron mission creation
Once you are good to go, you click on the FLY icon and the time clicks down. You
have the option for Taxi out or Take Off position for starting. Pay attention, time will
click off faster than real time as you approach mission take off time. You may get a
SCRAMBLE prompt if your airfield is in jeopardy. You can accept or decline this mission.
Briefing Screens. Click for larger image.
Once in the mission, the
immersion is incredible. Get clearance from the TOWER and take off. Radio calls from
AWACS, other flights, the command structure for requesting data from AWACS, the command
structure for Wingman, Element, and Flight: all of these are very comprehensive and
One thing that has lacked in most sims for quite a while is the importance of
managing your TOT (Time On Target). You need to pay attention to your TOT and steer point
times. Your data link has all of the essential information programmed in for arriving at
steer points and on target at the correct time. Show up to one of these points too soon
and Wild Weasel may not have already assured the path is clean
and SAM hits have a
way of ruining your whole day. Show up too late and your Escort may be too far ahead of
you to protect you from bandits.
Full Map View. Click for larger image.
Once you have run a few
missions, you can start seeing the results of your performance on the INTEL screen. While there is no true AWACS mode, there is an easy
way to simulate AWACS and watch what is going on
a boon for multi-play,
particularly in a LAN environment.
Just click on the ENLARGE icon for the mission map
without actually going into a mission. Then a Right Click on the map gives you options for
what you want to see
AIR, GROUND, INDUSTRIAL, etc. Once these icons show up, you
can right click on each one and get details. You can bring up a wide variety of different
levels of detail. This can been mis-used for getting too much information
FALCON 4 also simulates the "FOG of WAR", so recon information and AWACS
information may not be totally accurate.
Intel Interface. Click for larger image.
During a campaign, you will be able to watch your forces advance
or be pushed back, dependent upon the over all performance of your forces. You can watch
as you push your way north into North Korea. If you start doing exceptionally well, you
may end up with the Chinese, Russians or both entering the war against you as well.
"Big Map" you can see ground forces advance and take ground, or lose ground. You
can use this information to readjust your strategic options screens in an effort to get
into the thick of the mostly hotly contested part of the war. Assign CAS missions in the
PAK that have the heaviest concentration of ground battles going on, or Air Interdiction
in the areas that are being most attacked by bombers. This will give you more of these
types of missions to choose from.
Supply lines will play an important roll.
Those forward ground forces that can not advance because of the supplies and
reinforcements coming up from the rear could use some help. Take out the bridges and cut
off the flow and watch the enemy forces start to weaken and fall.
If your squadron is not getting the type of missions you want, or
you decide you want to practice another form of mission, "transfer" to another
squadron. Even move to another air field and see what sort of missions you can get that better suit your preference.
I have yet to finish a camapign, and I
do not think any of the other testers have either. The amount of effort required to win a
war is not trivial, and FALCON 4 has captured the difficulty and essence very well.
can not be emphasized enough that FALCON 4 is a complete War Generation Module and we are fortunate enough to be able to interact with it and fly missions. The current level of the AI is pretty
impressive, and MicroProse intends to tweak it some more.
You have never seen a campaign
engine like this before. The realism, level of flexibility, detail, and features are the most
encompassing package ever seen in a flight sim. When you consider that future add-ons for
FALCON 4 are already planned (HORNET and MIG-29 to start with) with additional campaigns
included also, the longevity of a flight sim has never been so promising.
And not only that, but you can also create your own custom campaigns in Korea, and these will also be fully dynamic. Add to this full featured ACMI, and what more could one ask for?
Falcon 4 is slated for release in December. For more interface screens see F4 Campaign Interface Screens. System requirements are these (note that F4 will run faster under DX6):
Minimum System Requirements:
- IBM 166MHz Pentium
- WIN95 with DirectX 5
- 32MB RAM
- High Color graphics for 640x480x16-bit color
- Quad speed CD-ROM drive
- Hard Drive (175MB free)
- DirectX-compatible 16-bit sound card
- IBM 266MHz Pentium II
- WIN95/98 with DirectX 5
- 64MB RAM
- Direct3D graphics accelerator
- 8x-speed CD-ROM drive
- Hard Drive (400MB free)
- Joystick with throttle
- DirectX-compatible 16-bit sound card
- IBM 450MHz Pentium II
- WIN95/98 with DirectX 6 (DX6)
- 128MB RAM
- Voodoo 2 or TNT based graphics accelerator
- 24x-speed CD-ROM drive
- Hard Drive (600MB free)
- Fully programmable joystick, throttle and rudders
- DirectX-compatible 16-bit sound card
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