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MiG Alley
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson

Flight Models

This is the acid test for a serious simulation, and I have it on authority that the flight modeling is very good. The authority is a man with some solid air time in USAF fighters. His only complaints were twofold: first, overcontrol.

But Ron's joystick was the Microsoft Sidewinder Pro and 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.

Second, it is possible to drop gear and flaps at any speed, and it is very difficult to belly land the Sabre without an explosion. Reality check.

The FM is excellent otherwise. 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. We could wish for more variation from the F86 to the F84 and F80, but at least there is variation. Version 1.1 adds a mid setting for flaps.

By the way, MiG lacks an autopilot, since that feature was lacking on aircraft of the time. You will have to manually trim for level flight, and that setting will vary by your fuel load and altitude. It's annoying at first but you'll get used to it. Once trimmed out, remember to make use of the Mark I eyeball. You will find that your wingmen have sharp eyes, but it's a good idea to do your own scan of the sky regularly. FM Rating: 8.5/10.


Graphics, Cockpits, and Views

This is very subjective, since it is clear from our forum that MOST people like the graphics, but some do not. Most of my hours in MiG were on an AMD K6-3 450 with 128 MB RAM and Matrox G400 (32 MB). So long as I emptied SYS-TRAY I had no problem running at 1024x768 with all realism and graphic options to MAX.

At these settings I enjoy the graphics in MiG. Some have complained about both object appearance and ground textures. Sorry. I cannot relate. You can get some idea from the fifty or so screen shots in the preview articles we have run, but screen shots never look quite as good as moving reality. The lighting on aircraft skins is cool. And you can customize your nose art in the paint shop.

Click to continue


F86 Cockit

The terrain could have been better. There are two cloud layers, not quite state of the art but the transition effect is very nice. I like the cockpits. Each aircraft has its own cockpit, of course, and at 1024x768 they are very good, and complete with reflections. (In fact, your first sign of bandits nearby may be a reflection from their canopies, just as noted by pilots of the time.) You can even zoom out the cockpit using CTL +/- (on the keypad.) Graphics are 8/10.

Cockpit scroll is smooth as silk on any system I have run. I usually zoom out the cockpit as soon as I am airborne and run with the wide angle perspective.

Zoom Out View, Adjusted downward

I like the instrumentation, which is all working and at 1024x768 looks very good. I tend to fly with a partial downward view until I get into a dogfight.

There is something obtuse about the assignment of view keys, but only because it is nonstandard unless you still happen to play Flying Corps. The Rowan viewing system works beautifully once you are familiar with it. You can preset for snap views or panning views. And since you can program macros to your HOTAS or to your voice command software, you'll find you can configure the system to work for you.

The organization of views is like this. F6 to F10 establish camera viewpoints, with F7 as the cockpit camera. F1 to F5 keys modify the camera views. Hit F1 following F7 and you will have an enemy in view, gazing out from your cockpit. Hit F1 following F6, and you will have an enemy view across a Player Track view. If you have realistic view limits selected, you will lose sight when appropriate.

If you have Auto Padlock selected, you will move from an internal padlock to external Player to Target view automatically. But this ability to see across your own aircraft to the enemy will also be limited by your peripheral vision settings. Using the "d" key you can choose to place a red target box around your selected target, a cheat that helps SA in many situations. Backspace toggles Inside/Outside view and ENTER toggles padlock mode.

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