Falcon 4.0 - Version 1.08 Review, Part I
by Mike "von Krarr" Kovacs
Falcon 4.0: Never has such an ambitious project been attempted before or since. Love it or hate it, no simulation that is currently released can surpass its depth or potential.
That said, it hasn't been a smooth ride since December 7, 1998 but its been a good one. If Falcon 4.0 is compared to Icarus, he may have burned his wings but thanks to version 1.08 he has a parachute.
In this final review I intend to outline the installation and crash issues of the final patch. From there I will proceed to the dogfight and tactical engagement (TE) modules. Through the use of a TE, improvements to wingman A.I. and the Radar Warning Reciever (RWR). Finally the campaign and multiplayer will be addressed.
I do not intend to comment on the frame rate issue. Falcon 4.0 is an enormously complex and dynamic simulation that makes the systematic measurement of frame rates extremely difficult. Personally, upon patching to 1.08 and moving to 1024 x 768 resolution I saw no difference in the frame rates, although many claim to have vast improvement. The bottom line: Your mileage will vary.
After downloading the patch and having a very long day at work, I did a complete uninstallation of Falcon 4.0, reinstalled from the CD and patched directly to version 1.08. Luckily as a TNT user I had already read Snacko's excellent 1.08 FAQ while at work. This FAQ is required reading for anybody new to version 1.08.
After following his suggestions to get the 1024 cockpit working with my TNT, I eagerly fired-up the simulation and tried one of my favourite TE missions Wild Weasel from Hell. After being quickly shot down (as usual) I was greeted not by the debrief but the error with the title "DevCreateSurface". I would estimate that in playing campaign and other TE missions that I made it to the debrief maybe once or twice out of twenty times. Not good!
1.08 New Cockpit
Since Direct X 7.0 came out I have had little to no trouble running Falcon 4.0 version 1.07. Enter version 1.08. Aghast with the horror that I might never be able to play Falcon 4.0 ever again I did the unimaginable: Backed up everything, formatted my hard drive and reinstalled Windows 98 from scratch. In the process of reinstalling all my applications I made sure to install Direct X 6.1 and the directplay 6.1a patch.
Did all this effort pay off? Absolutely. I have not had a single crash since the reinstall in over 20 hours of play. When Direct X 7.0 becomes required for games (e.g. Quake III) then I hope that someone can find a workaround. Direct X 7.0 is not without bugs (look at the USB support) so perhaps the job of fixing it belongs to Microsoft. Time will tell.
Originally I ran with no 3rd party addons but I have since installed skyfix and mistrail.gif with no problems.
1.08 New Cockpit
1024 x 768 Graphics
If I may be so bold, our prayers have been answered! Falcon 4.0 now sports a new 1024 x 768 high resolution 2D cockpit.
The cockpit is very realistic including the proper positioning of the AoA and VVI indexers. It even includes a caged nuclear consent switch just like the real thing. Overall I think it is a definite improvement, and it will only get better as the cockpit artists release their work. I am looking forward in particular to Xis 1024 cockpit that is currently under development.
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Last Updated December 14th, 1999