The overall impression I got from flying in the campaign is that it is now FUN. Not necessarily easier, but more realistic and far more logical as far as AI and ATC goes. The ATC at Seoul Air Base did not scold me for landing without permission, even though I sent the inbound call and then the request landing call as I turned on final. The ATC is solid if you get a message letting one know if they are number 1 or 2 or 3 to land.
After experiencing the new and improved campaign, it was time to try out the Tactical Engagement module. The statement in the 1.08 readme about terrain masking certainly peaked my interest (wasn't really working prior to 1.08.) A test was needed. A simple SEAD Strike was set up to see how the SAM crews would treat masked aircraft. Takeoff from Kimpo International and a short 20 mile run to the border. To further test the RWR and AI, the first run through the mission was at medium altitude. Ten thousand feet level inbound to the SA-5 site.
Almost immediately as the 2-ship crested over 5 grand the SA-5 radar appeared on the RWR. Powered up the HTS and locked the target. By the time this was done the SAM crews had launched the first missile. Call it 5-7 seconds from detection.
From the trajectory, this shot went ballistic and seemed to be a "decoy." As the missile detonated high up the SA-5 radar locked onto my jet and fired a second round. This one guided, coming right at me.
I called "Weapons Free" to the wingman, waited for the confirmation and then gave the "Attack Target" call. My wingman fired a single HARM and made some nice evasive manoeuvres. The HARM struck the radar set and the RWR went silent. The missile that was guiding on myself was decoyed by chaff and a few hard turns. Both F-16s maintained level altitude at ~10k.
We continued inbound. In addition to the HARMs the 2-ship each carried 4 CBU canisters. I locked the remaining missiles on radar, gave the weps free call, waited for confirmation, commanded my wingman to go trail, and then gave the "attack target" command. From an outside view the wingman put his nose on the horizon, flew in towards the assigned target and dropped 2 CBU cans right on target. He then rejoined on my wing as I circled around.
The point of this description is to show that wingmen need proper instructions in order to get desired results. If a planned static target has an IP such as an OCA Strike or Factory Strike, the wingman will attack without a radar or pod lock. On soft targets or mobile columns, a good radar lock and timely radio commands will make the flight hit exactly what you want them to.
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1.08 New Cockpit
On the second run through the same TE, a different tactic was used. The 2-ship flew directly to the SA-5 site at extremely low level. Lead flew at 100-200 feet while wingman flew trail at 250 feet. The SA-5 radar did not show up on the RWR until 9 miles out.
Again a spoiler shot was fired ballistically. But there was no second shot. 2 HARMs fired at low level. Site destroyed. The 2-ship continued in at high speed, the remaining infantry did not get a good shot even though a BMP-2 fired its AAA gun. No damage suffered. I think this was a sufficient test of the terrain masking feature, and a successful one at that!
The future is almost limitless. Hardcore virtual pilots will now be able to challenge themselves to the Iron Fortress campaign and be able to fight on more even terms. The force level sliders will now be a factor in how difficult or easy a campaign is going to be. It seems that the Tiger Spirit scenario with the sliders in favour of the Allies will provide new-comers with enough challenge to make it worthwhile, but still keep the fun factor high.
On the other hand the Iron Fortress campaign could now possibly be won with the sliders in favour of the Allies. The point is that the campaigns will give Falcon 4.0 enough replayability to last a few years more, and players at all levels will experience how deep and involving Falcon 4.0 really is.
Falcon 4.0 is a complex piece of software and it's understandable why many people get frustrated with it. On the other hand, F4 provides us with a medium to become a "fighter pilot" for a few moments at a time. Personally I like the idea of being in a virtual world where the most sophisticated aircraft are one's playthings.
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