Part 1 – Overview
by Chris “BeachAV8R” Frishmuth and Tom “20mm” Hayden
In the roughly two decade history of PC computer flight simulations, no combat flight sim has garnered more attention than Falcon 4.0. Released by Microprose in December 1998, the story of Falcon 4.0 is one of true inspiration and vision, amazing accomplishments, hard work, tremendous sacrifice, and above all else, passion. And yet, with all of that, there were unrealized dreams, outright failures, mind-boggling problems, setbacks, compromises, and struggles. The simulation has its own lexicon, words like “the bubble”, “wall of MiGs”, “The Dance”, and others. It also shares other simulation terms that, in Falcon, tend to have enhanced meaning, such as “FLOT”, “goat-rope”, “memory leak”, “dynamic campaign”, and “suspension of disbelief”.
In the six years that have followed that initial release, much of the work that has developed Falcon into the different versions and combinations we see today has been the result of dedicated volunteers and pay add-on makers. People who have contributed their time and efforts to make Falcon better than it was the day before. To them, the community owes much.
Falcon 4.0 is really two simulations in one. Because of it’s dynamic campaign, Falcon is continually fighting a theatre-wide war, with ground, naval, and air units. Meanwhile, the player is immersed in the air combat simulation and directly involved in influencing the outcome of that war. In the words of Falcon’s Producer Gilman Louie,
“We want to suspend your disbelief and to give you a better understanding of a pilot’s role in a large-scale engagement. The secret to the Falcon series has always been balancing the campaign with the flight simulation.”
Astonishing as it may seem, there has only been one commercial release of Falcon 4.0. That is, until now.Falcon 4.0: Allied Force developed by Lead Pursuit LLC and published by Graphsim has arrived. It heralds yet another milestone in the story of what many feel is simply the greatest air combat simulation ever made for the computer.
Welcome to Part 1 of our Falcon 4.0: Allied Force Review series.
We will begin with an overview of this very deep simulation. Succeeding chapters in the series will focus on particular areas, such as Multiplayer, Performance, Campaign, New User Guidelines, and more. While the Falcon 4.0 community certainly is well aware of the history and evolution of Falcon 4.0, we are going to concentrate on reviewing a stand-alone product. We may from time-to-time compare and contrast F4:AF to previous F4 versions, but more in a generic sense rather than a specific build combination with all the myriad combination of possible components.
It is our feeling that, in many ways, this is a new beginning.
Falcon 4.0: Allied Force promises to be the first of what is called the “Battlefield Operations” series. According to Lead Pursuit, Falcon 4.0’s code has been heavily modified, making it more stable, including areas such as the AI, graphics (including new cockpits and volumetric clouds), multiplayer, and refinements to the renown Falcon 4.0 Campaign Engine. It is obvious that they hope to appeal to the ranks of seasoned Falcon 4.0 veterans as well as new players and those who have not played the simulation in quite some time.
It was with great anticipation that those of us on the SimHQ review team received our copies of F4:AF. Our review is based on the gold, retail shipping version for the US. and played at the 100% settings (except where noted in the text for specific testing). Lead Pursuit has confirmed that what we have is the same version that will be on store shelves in a few days.