MiG Alley is a unique beast, being a survey sim in form (allows flight of more than one air platform) but a study sim in depth (each platform has its own flight characteristics, and the flight models are highly detailed.) Moreover, unlike the typical survey simulations, it sports four scripted campaigns and a fifth that is completely dynamic.
In fact, MiG sports one of the best dynamic campaigns ever built. Better still, the Spring Offensive campaign allows user interaction and mission planning within the campaign to a degree surpassing that of Falcon 4.0.
Welcome to Korea
Nowhere 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, F80 or F100, or fly CAP in an F84. Let's face it, I could stop right there and many would feel they were in heaven. But that ain't all that is here. You can even fly a MiG 15.
On the Runway
Not sweet enough yet? How about a full featured COMMS ability to command your squadron, and wingmen that are 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?
MiG Alley is a first in yet more ways, being the first serious simulation that models the advent of the jet age, and jet vs prop warfare. Moreover, this early age doesn't involve the complexities of radar and missile warfare, so the learning curve is significantly lighter, in spite of the fact that flight modeling and the environment are very authentic.
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And even here, MiG manages to reach more broadly. MiG is a serious simulation that will grow with you, with configuration options that will allow you to enter at a level where you are comfortable and then crank up the realism as you learn. Furthermore, you can take the missions as they come, never tasking a single mission if you prefer not to. But when you have the time or the motivation, you can delve into the strategic game in the Spring Offensive and really have some fun!
Down and Dirty
I will rate each area as I go through MiG, and then summarize with our standard rating system at the close.
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 simulation highway through life. MiG is not a simulation that a serious sim player should pass by.
Okay, down to specifics. I first ran MiG when it went gold on a PII400 (128 MB) with 3dfx Banshee (16 MB). Frame rate at 1024x768 rarely fell below 15 fps. I then went to an AMD 450 with 128 MB and Matrox G400 (standard with 32 MB). Frame rate remained virtually identical at the same settings, with realistic FM and all options to the max. Even the fully dynamic campaign didn't seem to affect the frame rate.
Go to Page Two: Flight Model and Graphics