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Eurofighter Typhoon: Review - Part II

by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson

Article Type: Review
Article Date: May 16, 2001
Version: Release

More on the Campaign

More problematic is that access to game elements is limited. The tactical map has only two sizes, and presents only basic information. Furthermore, there are no pilot records anywhere. Post mission debriefings have adequate detail, though some will find them slim.

The lack of pilot records is puzzling in a simulation touted as a ďpilot simulation.Ē The player begins the campaign by choosing pilots based on personality factors, but then is given no access to records that would help him evaluate the individual performance of those same pilots. Granted, the play-by-play via the pilot interface bar is supposed to provide some of this, but it seems more a distraction than a well integrated feature for the reasons already given.

Another issue relating to mission flow is arming your aircraft. According to the manual the optimal loadout for a mission is pre-selected for the player. Unfortunately, that optimal loadout is generally one of five options you must choose. That means that you may be in the middle of a dogfight when the pilot bar flickers onto your screen and the planning icon for a new mission is up. In order to select the optimal loadout you must now pause the game and click on the planning icon for another pilot. If you fail to do this you may find yourself trying to hit fast moving targets with dumb bombs.

Hacked Save Game Dialogue

The final game flow issue relates to saving games. While the player can save seven different games in the campaign, he cannot choose the name of the save. And because you may fly three CAP or three anti-hovercraft missions in a row, you may have two or three saves with the same name but a different time stamp. As a result, it becomes very difficult to remember why you saved when, and for which pilot.

Worse, there is a bug which causes some missions after the Hovercraft missions to have the same name, despite having been completely different missions (a CAP mission will still be saved as an anti-Hovercraft mission). While it is possible to hack the save file to rename a save, it is a pain to have to do so.

Artificial Intelligence (and command structure)

At this point the reader may be thinking that I donít enjoy the game. Actually, I do. Iíve had some great fun and some very challenging missions. But like a beautiful diamond in a scratched setting, the game is marred by some small omissions and some interface issues that detract from the fun.

AI appears to be quite good. I have played ninety percent of my time on the high difficulty setting, and have found most enemy pilots to be aggressive and skillful. There are exceptions, of course, as there would be in real life.

Performing a Bracket Maneuver with Wingman

Wingman AI is generally reliable. Wingmen will provide notice of incoming bandits and will engage targets when ordered to do so. They sometimes appear to launch weapons at the limits of the engagement zone, so it is up to you as LEAD not to tell them to engage at the wrong time.

One weakness in wingman AI is missile avoidance; wingmen are not as good as I am at surviving incoming missiles. Another weakness is that they will usually launch on a bandit and then turn away, as if one or two missiles guarantees a kill. This sometimes will leave you in a difficult spot, with a bandit pulling onto your tail while you are engaging another. It makes no difference if you have first locked the target yourself and ordered ENGAGE MY TARGET or ENGAGE AIR TARGETS.

Strike flight and escort flight AI seems quite reliable. The exception to this rule is that strike missions sometimes fall victim to the armament issue mentioned above. If your strike flight is with you on a mobile strike and happens to be carrying dumb bombs, their effectiveness will be limited.

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Comms Menu

The command structure in Eurofighter Typhoon is quite flexible, lacking only a status check. The command for "Radar Off" is found in the Mission Menu, and you will have to use this command to go stealthy if you want to avoid detection. There is no "Request Emergency Landing" under the Airbase Menu, but if you have taken damage when you call to request clearance you will hear yourself make an emergency request.

Graphics and Effects

Iíve left this evaluation late in the article, because graphics are fantastic overall. The few complaints appear driver related with the exception of 3dfx video card compatibility, which is currently being addressed by Rage.

Air-to-Air Kill

Objects are nicely done. Lighting is effective. Smoke and effects are also well done. The playerís own aircraft is quite beautiful. Other aircraft models vary somewhat from quite detailed to somewhat simplified. Airbases and runways are quite impressive. The landscape is on the bleak side but this is Iceland after all.

The default maximum resolution is 1024x768 at 32, but the player can cheat by editing the registry to 1600x1200 if they prefer.

Sound and Comms

I am one of the unlucky few sporting a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound board and as a result have a driver issue that requires me to completely turn off sound acceleration. The same issue has appeared with the Hercules Game Theater XP and the Videologic Sonic Fury (identical to the TM Santa Cruz).

In spite of running basic sound features I find the sound in Typhoon to be well executed. The voices are realistic, engine sounds are appropriate, and effects are realistic. Some players have complained that while your wingman will acknowledge your orders, other flights do not.

Typhoon Showing Airframe Damage

A joystick configuration issue exists with some gear. The simulation does not allow you to set a dead zone or to calibrate from within the simulation. As a result, some of us have had to cheat by calibrating an adjustment within Windows Game Control applet. Calibrating with less than full movement on my ThrustMaster gear gave me greater vertical control and enabled me to pull maximum gís, which I had been unable to do with the default setting.

Summary and Evaluation

By now you may agree that Eurofighter Typhoon is innovative in its approach. It contains the essential elements we expect in a combat flight simulation, and executes most of those elements with agility. The design approach was to strip away the layers and bring us to the combat experience itself, through the lives of six particular pilots, each of whom we would get to know well.

The challenge faced by the designers was to maintain simplicity while enhancing the combat experience. Did they attain the right balance of simplicity and realism? Was the combat experience enhanced by the simplicity of the design, or has immersion been sacrificed by loss of balance in some areas or omission of key features? Does the supporting game framework add to or detract from the central experience of the campaign?

This Pilot Faces a Nasty Interrogation

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This Pilot was lucky . . . a rescue!

Rage has come very close to succeeding. While they have created a simulation that is a good representation of the combat experience, there are some flies in the ointment. For the serious crowd, the armament issue, targeting issues, lack of closure information, or inability to turn off countermeasures will be ongoing issues. Those looking for a streamlined combat experience will find themselves distracted in other ways - surprised by the lack of pilot records, or frustrated that they canít bypass the cut scenes, or annoyed at their inability to save the game in a way that allows them quick access to a memorable event. All will be frustrated at the annoying and repetitive flashing of the pilot bar.

The good news is that there is a fun simulation here. Eurofighter Typhoon retains its immersive quality, helped greatly by an appealing graphics engine, solid action and a detailed command structure. Good news is also found in the fact that at least some of the issues noted here are likely to be addressed in either a patch or the first add-on.

My rating of Typhoon: 8/10

Test System:

CPU: 1 GHz AMD Athlon
MOBO: Abit KT7 RAID with 256 MB
VIDEO: Nvidia GeForce2 GTS Ultra
AUDIO: Turtle Beach Santa Cruz
CD-ROM: Toshiba TrueX 50x
CONTROLS: ThrustMaster HOTAS, CH Pro Pedals
SOUND: Cambridge Soundworks FPS2000 Digital

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