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Total Air War
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
 

Total Air War integrates the AWACS Theatre Commander perspective with a dynamic campaign AI. Although the ground war integration hasn't been pursued as much as we had hoped and we won't have the ability to call up new flights where we want them, the dynamic engine takes care of the frag order and we can step into SCRAMBLE missions when available.

WarRoom
Click for 800x600 -260K.

The heart of TAW is the dynamic real time campaign. Around that hub are laid the critical spokes, one of which is the AWACS interface. When you first enter TAW you must choose a campaign from the list presented. The campaigns vary in difficulty mostly by virtue of the amount of territory you occupy and the strength and position of your allies. Campaign One as displayed in the screen above gives you a lot of space and power. Campaign Two, on the other hand, pits you against the rest the Arabian theatre. There are ten campaign selections in total.

Mission Selection
Click for 800x600.

After choosing your campaign you are vaulted to the WarRoom and the Theatre map. Here you are presented with a real time god's eye view of the battlefield with the battle in progress. At the top of the map is a clock that counts the hours, minutes and seconds of the ongoing battle.

Opposition

In ADF we had a chance to experiment with the AWACS interface, but the AWACS component, while it gave us strategic control of allied aircraft, was severed from any ongoing campaign and was likewise severed from any immersive reality. It was cool and interesting, but it didn't connect in a way that involved the player in a real and unfolding battle universe.

Click to continue . . .

 

In Total Air War, however, both the WarRoom map and the AWACS interface are part of the unfolding universe. Both give a real time overview of the campaign (though this all changes if you happen to lose your AWACS!)

From the WarRoom you have access to tactical data, damage plots, event logs and even the latest intelligence. You can also see the real time battle unfolding before your eyes as the clock ticks above.

Just as critical, you can select SCRAMBLE and have the opportunity to fly any allied F22 mission that is scrambled to deal with critical threats anywhere in the theatre. Or, you can select FLY and access the current FRAG order, choosing any mission that fits your current rank and abilities.

No matter which way you go, you can land and rearm and take off again, just as you could in EF2000 or F22: ADF (wingman gets fuel but no arms). My current record is 34 kills, but I don't doubt that will be surpassed quite quickly. Its quite a kick to be scrambled after an inbound strike force. Early in the campaign these groups can be quite large and you will have your hands full!

And yes, you heard right. You can't fly just ANY mission in this man's army, you will only be allowed to fly missions that you are likely to survive and accomplish effectively. Every mission you fly in TAW will be awarded points, and when you have sufficient points to warrant promotion, you will find yourself climbing in rank. Mission choices are rated so that you can even choose the mission you fly in the hope of acquiring points more rapidly.

Pilot Record

This accomplishes a number of things: first, it increases your chance of successfully completing a campaign. Second, it reduces your likely frustration with ongoing defeat. The down side is that you may find yourself flying a significant distance from the action, but that is quite realistic! No one puts the newbies on the front line on the first day of battle! On the other hand, you will find yourself flying a dull CAP one moment and suddenly receive an AWACS order to intercept recently discovered bandits!

Go to Part III

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