by Robert Mitchell
Article Type: Feature
Article Date: December 04, 2001
Product Name: Falcon 5
Category: Jet Simulation
Developer: Force 12 Studios
Publisher: G2 Interactive
Release Date: TBA
Req'd. Spec: TBA
Articles / Links / Files: Click Here
What is Going On in the Falcon Community?The best way to answer that question may be with another question: What isn’t going on in the Falcon community? As you’ve surely heard by now, (unless you’ve been freeze-dried or doing hard-time), there is going to be a Falcon 5. Or, as it’s developer has entitled it, Falcon V. This was the answer to a lot of prayers in the Falcon 4 (F4) community. Thought dead since Hasbro dropped the Microprose Falcon 4.0 team back in ’99, Falcon rose again, like the mystical Phoenix, this past spring when a new developer announced the continuation of the series. Oddly enough this was NOT greeted without criticism, at the time of its announcement and still to this day. Why would the F4 community not throw its arms around anyone promising its continuance like some sort of simming messiah?
Because, it seems, that Falcon V is not a new game. It’s going to be based on the F4 engine, which it has been pointed out many times, is quite old. Another little thing that’s raised the roof in certain circles of the community is that its development group is working for free. The entire development might change the way that flight simulations are created forever after. In case you wondered, yes, it IS important to YOU to know what’s going on.
Who is Developing Falcon V?Let’s take a quick look at the players:
Infogrames Interactive, Inc: Infogrames is a France-based company that’s been in the interactive entertainment business since 1983. They acquired the Hasbro Interactive line, including, obviously, Falcon 4.0. They’ve published games for about any platform you can imagine: PlayStation® game console, PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, the Microsoft® Xbox, Nintendo® 64, Nintendo® Game Cube, Nintendo® Game Boy® Color, Nintendo® Game Boy® Advance, Macintosh®, and the PC.
iBeta: iBeta, as most of you probably know, is the software quality assurance (QA) company that worked for Microprose, They also hosted the "i1" and "i2" patches for Hasbro Interactive/Microprose, as well as starting the whole ball rolling with the "realism" patches shortly after Hasbro let the Falcon 4.0 team go. They reportedly have a QA contract with G2 Interactive for Falcon V now, but that cannot be confirmed. G2 Interactive had "no comment" to give us on that question.
Force 12 Studios / G2 Interactive: Claude Cavanaugh is the President of G2 Interactive (G2i), Eric Marlow is the head of Force 12, According to the press release, Force 12 is wholly owned by G2i, and both were formed to make "hi-fidelity military simulations and their dedication to support the Falcon line of products will delight those who enjoy this immersive [g]enre." Force 12 Studios is the developer of Falcon V and G2i is its publisher. Being the type of guy known in polite circles as "slow" I went right to the horse's mouth and asked Marlow what the difference was between publishing and producing, he said "G2 Interactive is the publishing company. As such, G2 Interactive does the funding, marketing, advertising, and product distribution. Force 12 Studios is the development house—they perform product development activities only."
Community ReactionAs I said, there was (to me at least) a surprising amount of negative opinion surrounding the announcement of Falcon V. Being the curious type I asked some of the players in the F4 community what they thought of the announcement.
Chuck "Talon" Gray-Realism Patch Group (RPG) Member:
Great! Falcon lives on! That however has changed in light of recent events. I've had every version of Falcon from day one. The continuation of the series is great. But it must be done right or we'll end up with another debacle like the original beta version of F4 that Hasbro released to the public. Even after all the official patches F4 didn't live up to what it was originally supposed to be. This can't be allowed to happen again.
Leon Rosenshein-Engineer-Falcon 4.0:
I think it's a great idea. F4 had, and still has a lot of potential left in it. There were a lot of things we wanted to do with the code that we didn't get a chance to do, and it's good to see them happening.
Rob "Scoob" Muscoby- Sub-Group Design Assistant in Realism Patch Group:
I would like to see the continuation of the Falcon series, but NOT under the direction of G2i. The game is in need of an overhaul in a few key areas, but G2i's plans for the continuation of the series will amount to little more than what we currently have. A new F15 cockpit, 2-seat co-op F15E, and new terrain. Big deal. The Taiwan straits do not interest me. I am just about as unimpressed as I could possibly be. If G2i produces Falcon V, I will not purchase it.
Victoria "Cat" Avalon- WomenGamers.com:
What excellent news!
Gilman Louie-Producer-Falcon 4.0:
I am glad that Infogrames and Force12 Development and G2 Interactive are working on Falcon 5.0. I am glad that Infogrames is willing to buck the industry by supporting the future development of Falcon. While many publishers have abandoned the "hard-core" combat simulation market, Infogrames has proven once again how forward thinking they are. Force12 and G2 Interactive both know the code better than anybody and are completely qualified to extend the franchise.
Gabriel "vonManstein" Sampaio-Fan:
I don't think it'll bring anything new to Falcon 4, that is, nothing the mod makers haven't added themselves.
So, in this sampling it’s pretty well split. But I find it fascinating that something as big as Falcon V, in a genre that’s having its own death foretold by industry journals, be greeted with any kind of negativity by fans of that very genre. What is going on? Something obviously is, but what? That’s what we’ll find out in this series.
The History of FalconWhile there are some members of the F4 community that can draw on their experiences right back to day one with the very first Falcon, most of us came in a little (or a lot) later. Stretching way back in the paleolithic days of computer gaming in 1987, the Falcon series has had a huge fanbase and a very active community. Falcon 3 meets and ladder matches are still legendary gaming experiences in the Falcon community.
For those of you not aware of the Falcon lineage, it goes like this:
|Boxart for the original Falcon released in 1987 |
|Cockpit view in Falcon |
Falcon – Spectrum Holobyte – 1987
Created for the Atari ST - IBM PC and Commodore Amiga and Apple Mac by Gilman Louie's Spectrum Holobyte team in 1987. In Falcon you piloted the F-16A Falcon on 12 preset missions
|Cover of the Falcon AT manual |
|The map in Falcon AT |
Falcon AT – Spectrum Holobyte – 1987
Falcon AT was a tremendous leap beyond the original Falcon, providing 16 Color EGA graphics. In most senses it was Falcon 2.0 (explaining the otherwise inexplicable gap between Falcon and Falcon 3.0)
|Falcon AT CD |
|Credit screen for |
|Cockpit view in |
Falcon 2.2 - the Macintosh version – Spectrum Holobyte - 1987
The retail box for Falcon for the Mac looked just like the PC, Amiga and Atari versions. Since it was the original version though it was programmed by Gilman Louie himself. The Mac version made it up to version 2.2.2 before they went on to Falcon 3.0 and Falcon MC (mac color) for the Mac.
|Boxart for Falcon 3 |
|Cockpit view in Falcon 3 |
Falcon 3 – Spectrum Holobyte – 1991
Falcon 3.0 was published in 1991 by Spectrum Holobyte. It was the sequel to Falcon. Falcon 3.0 pushed the boundaries of air combat sims with its release. It had all the features anyone could dream of at the time and the gameplay was riveting. It was also demanding on hardware, needing a 486 to run the "High-Fidelity Flight Model". Falcon 3 drew a huge fan-base and was really the beginnings of what became the Falcon 4.0 community.
|Falcon 4's familiar box art |
|Cockpit view from Falcon 4.0 |
Falcon 4.0 – Microprose/Hasbro Interactive – December 1998
Years in the making, the long-awaited reincarnation of Falcon 3, Falcon 4.0 was probably the most ambitious air combat sim ever attempted, with a full scale war on the Korean peninsula being modeled. Released basically unfinished and rushed out the door to capitalize on the 1998 Christmas season, Microprose/Hasbro Interactive patched Falcon 4.0 for a full year before finally dropping the project on December 7, 1999, right after releasing their final patch, 1.08US. Before their last day at Microprose, Falcon team members delivered two updated executables to the Falcon community. 1.08i1 and 1.08i2. They contained a few final bug fixes and addressed some multiplay issues.
- A huge thank you goes to Peter "Migman" Inglis for permission to use the pictures and information used to compile the History of Falcon section above. His site, MigMan's Flight Simulation Museum is a fabulous resource and if you haven't been there before, what are you waiting for?
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