by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson and Bob "Groucho" Marks
I also recorded my second flight in the 117. The entire record was just under 6 meg, a large file but with the hard drives today, not enough to worry about. Playing back the mission, you get every sound and action and can even edit camera views and save the changes. Events that occurred during the mission are tracked, allowing you to jump directly to a particular part of the mission.
There are two limitations: the inability to jump in to refly and inability to access Night Vision. Unfortunately, going to an outside view on a night mission isn't very interesting when you can only see clearance lights.
Modified Tactical Display
Ah well. Hitting ESC while running the playback brings you to a modified Tactical Display. From here you can look over the battlefied and choose other aircraft to visit, so you can see other action that occurred during the mission you flew. It's at this point that you may notice some limitations: you can't access other views for other aircraft, only for your own.
This brings up a few other limitations of USAF. Currently you cannot access other views when the simulation is paused. A strange limitation that many have found annoying. Many have also noticed some serious texture tearing. These graphical glitches were quite serious in my installation until I downloaded the latest 3.53 Detonator drivers for my TNT2 board.
Another annoyance relates to control configuration. The USAF demo showed us that there was some extreme sensitivity in the joystick routines. The solution is to enter the PREFERENCES Control setup and edit the joystick settings.
This will take care of one issue, but leave you with another. It's still difficult to maintain level flight apart from engaging the Autopilot. The trim settings (PGUP and PGDN) adjust the trim in strokes that are too broad, and don't have the sensitivity needed. Solution? Simply find the course and heading you desire and engage the AP LVL mode. The second press of the "A" key engages the AP NAV mode and you no longer have control of direction or throttle (other than through the waypoint setting).
Built in voice comms is a first for a JANE's sim. I use Game Commander so I haven't tested the voice comms for USAF. If you use Roger Wilco you may have discovered there is a problem, but the fix is simple. Open your \Resounding Folder (usually under Program Files) and add the following line to the games.txt file: "Jane's USAF" "Jane's USAF" 1 3000. Save the changes and you're ready to rock and roll.
As for AI, yes there are a few glitches here too. I've seen friendly aircraft discover that the mountains are too high (G), and I've had wingmen not respond to commands (only once.) I've also seen wingmen apparently stuck in taxi mode on the ground. On the whole, however, wingman AI is reliable in the single missions, but weaker in the campaign (more on this later.)
Flight Modeling and Physics
Physics in USAF is pretty much state of the art. You'll see primary and secondary explosions, damage can bleed from one system to another, and your aircraft struts will compress when you hit the brakes. Granted, landings are simply too easy in general.
If there are complaints to be made, they have to do with flight behavior. Aside from the surprising similarity between dissimilar aircraft, low speed behavior is greatly over done. If you fly the training missions, the instructor will tell you to get your speed down to about 150 knots on final. Don't do it. At that speed these aircraft wallow around like a stuffed pig and you will drop like a stone. At 150 knots you won't be able to maintain a proper glide slope.
Full Screen FLIR mode.
Secondly, inertia is modeled in the extreme. Aileron rolls don't stop when the ailerons are neutralized. Finally, the A10 appears to have the power of four engines pushing it. Top level speed is somewhere around 500 knots, and it is possible to maintain a climb rate rivaling a much more powerful and streamlined aircraft. Trying to shake a hog off the tail of an F15 is quite a challenge.
Is this a big deal? Not really, though it would have been nice to see the higher realism settings offer more accurate modeling.
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Last Updated November 18th, 1999