|MiG Alley: Another Look
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
After numerous requests I am posting a mini-review on MiG Alley. I had hoped to have the boxed copy by now, but I do not. With all the curiosity, however, and the need for an opinion and a recommendation, I'm diving in at the deep end.
In spite of not having received the patched version, I have about twenty five hours in MiG Alley. Most of that time was in June and July, with another few hours this past weekend. I've received some mail that my first review (after having heard that MiG went gold and that the code I had was final, which turned out not to be the case) was discouraging. Time to make a clear statement. What is the bottom line for MiG Alley?
Now you know that when you ask a journalist for an opinion you are going to get an ear full, along with a lot of qualifications. Need I say that MiG isn't perfect? Have you ever received the first edition of any sim that was?
Knowing what I know about MiG, would I go out and buy it? Yes. In fact, I would run out and buy it. Let me tell you why.
Sabres and MiGs
Where else in the PC world can you hop in and dogfight MiGs in F86 Sabres, escort B29s into North Korea, pound the ground in Korea in an F51 or F80, or fly CAP in an F84? Let's face it, I could stop right there and many would feel they were in heaven.
On the Runway
But that ain't all that is here. You can even fly a MiG 15. And you can do all this in a fully dynamic campaign setting that rivals the best out there (Note: Only the fifth campaign is fully dynamic.)
Not sweet enough yet? How about a full featured COMMS ability to command your squadron, and wingmen that more reliable than most of the sims out there?
Climb to Altitude
A tough customer, huh? What about an integrated ground war where resource and supply is critical, the ability to control and alter the campaign according to your own strategic priorities, and the ability to plan each mission including loadout for the flights? The mission planning ability in MiG surpasses that of Falcon 4.
"Enough," you say! "I'll buy it already!" You should. MiG is a hardcore simulation that will grow with you. The configuration options will allow you to enter at a level where you are comfortable, and you can crank up the realism as you learn. Better still, you don't have to plan a single mission if you prefer not to. But when you have the time or the motivation, you can delve into the strategic game and really have some fun!
"Alright," you say, "You've almost got me sold. But what about the flight modeling? What about the graphics? I've read on the forums that it ain't that great. Give me some specifics." Read on. I'm breaking with our tradition here for a mini review and scoring each area out of TEN.
Down and Dirty
There are two lessons that you need to learn before sticking your neck into Usenet or the COMBATSIM.COM™ forums. Lesson one is "everyone is an expert." No, they aren't, but they think they are. Don't take Joe TopGun's word that there is something wrong with the flight model. He probably has never flown an F86 Sabre and he heard someone else who has never flown one complain about the modeling. He has no idea.
Lesson two follows from Lesson One. "One man's treasure is another man's poison." Just because Joe Topgun doesn't like MiG Alley doesn't mean you will agree. If you don't try it for yourself you risk missing another great stop on the sim highway through life. MiG is not a sim that a serious sim player should pass by.
Tell Me More
Okay, some specifics. I have it on good authority that the flight model is very good. The authority is a man with some solid air time in USAF fighters. His main complaint related to overcontrol, but his joystick was the Microsoft Sidewinder Pro. Unfortunately, the initial resistance when moving from the dead zone is so great that fine control is very difficult. The situation is improved by changing the dead zone to large in MiG PREFS, but this is still not a great stick with MiG.
Reality check. The FM is very good. There are buffet and stalls and even flame-outs. You won't get the most from this sim without force feedback, it really helps both for SA and for immersion. Down side: not enough variation from the F86 to the F84 and F80. 8/10.
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Last Updated August 15th, 1999