Well, if the first mission of the campaign is any indication of how the rest of SP4 is I think we all have a lot to look forward to. Much of what SP4 adds to F4 is “under the hood”, meaning there were a lot of data edits and fixes that the user cannot readily see, but are certainly there. I am not in a position of knowledge to be able to judge the data edits of SP4. The flight model feels good and the campaign (at least initially) looks good. I like the populated airfields and the new buildings. That being said though, I did notice a substantial frame rate hit during the campaign whereas with my previous install I had glass smooth performance even during the most intensive moments over the FLOT. I will, however add this caveat that I was previously flying SP3/BMS.99 and it has been my observation that the new smoke trails included in BMS1.03 can eat up frame-rates if several are being rendered at once.
There has been much discussion regarding the decision of the SP4 team to utilize 256×256 textures instead of 512 or even 1024. Let there be no question that FreeFacon 2 looks better than SP4. For me, being in the mission report business, that is significant. The reasons NOT to go with higher textures are manifold and legitimate; from download sizes, to older video cards, to the fact that add-on skins will make it out there eventually anyway.
Additionally, SP4 has introduced some new bugs, which given the scope of the treatment SP4 attempts, is totally understandable. I have no doubt they are addressing the problems and will have them fixed in due time.
To the statistician the differences between the various F4 installs may be readily apparent. I make my living as a pilot (a real life one) and though I don’t fly fighters (the fastest I get is Mach .75!) I feel like I’m qualified to judge “feel”. And it is my honest feeling that I couldn’t tell you the difference between SP3, SP4 and FF2 flight models. I think they are all great. Sustained G rates, turn radius, thrust, roll rate, aerobraking..they are all good and fine provided you have a frame of reference to compare it too. Most of us don’t have that body of evidence to make a “true” judgment of the validity of flight models. So in the end, we just fly what makes us happy. To that end, I’m content to wait out the growing pains of the newest and greatest. (You are talking about a guy that last year played Jane’s F-15 and Longbow 2 more than any other sims!)
For reasons of stability, visual appearance, and an overall feeling of “rightness” I will, for the time being, be sticking with my previous install of F4 + 1.08 + SP3 + FreeFalcon2 + BMS.99 + Aeyes Pit + Twaelti’s High Tiles. That combination, in my mind, represents the best mix for me right now. That’s not to say I won’t change my mind eventually, nor does it imply that any other install isn’t better. F4 has always been and likely will always be about choice…and what a great selection of add-ons we have!
Download a pdf of this article here (800 kb).
- Toshiba 5205-S703 Laptop
- Ported to a 19” Samsung SyncMaster 955DF
- P4 2.0 Ghz / 512mb RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce 4-460Go 64MB Mobility graphics chip
- Saitek X45 HOTAS