This venerable old girl still has some life left in her. This was the first sim I owned and the current version, v1.17, is the best. While it runs on WinXP, you do encounter some problems, especially if you’re like me and you have an ATi Radeon 9800 Pro. The best results are still in 3dfx’s Glide API, which you can’t get in new video cards. If you want to run it in D3D (which still isn’t bad, but certainly not as good as Glide), you’ll need an NVIDIA card to do it right.
This is why I have a legacy machine. If you can get your hands on one, and you have the room, invest in a KVM switch and link them up. It’s worth every dime. Avoid the USB models and stick with the PS2 standard. Most input devices come with USB-to-PS2 adaptors. Use them. I tell you this because Windows 98 SE has a hard time with some KVM switches’ USB keyboard emulator and will try to reload the driver every time you switch to it, sometimes requiring a reboot.
Lock On: Modern Air Combat
I remember the first time I saw the screenshots of LOMAC. I was blown away by what I saw, and yet it still resembled its predecessor, Flanker 2.0, in many respects. The extent and scope of the detail and effects, however, had never been attempted before. Unfortunately, it was like nothing my elderly computer had ever attempted before either, forcing an upgrade if I wanted it to be anything other than a slide show.
After a new Pentium 4, a Radeon 9800 Pro and another 512MB of DDR, it was a playable sim, but I quickly got annoyed by it’s rather buggy nature — which was subsequently fixed by patches — and its rather sterile environment. It was the same theater I’d seen before in Flanker 2.0 and 2.5 and like Tom DeLay, the sim would have benefited greatly by a change in venue.
The only version for a casual simmer is v1.01. The subsequent 1.02 patch broke the simplified flight model beyond repair. I could do loops without stalling before in 1.01, but this was gone with the new patch. I ended up eBaying my first copy. I recently bought another one (off of eBay) for a ridiculously cheap price and I’m giving it another shot.
Falcon 4.0: Allied Force
This latest iteration of the Falcon series brings the soap opera behind the development of the sim to a merciful close, plus stability the title never had. Falcon 4.0 had the unfortunate reputation of being the flight sim genre’s version of Sybil. I’d purchased the original Falcon 4.0 from another member here at SimHQ and attempted to get into it.
I was not impressed at all. It took an entire evening to install, patch and setup the entire affair and once done, was never completely stable. Plus, the simplified avionics (which I’ll cover later) were the worst I’d ever encountered. An amazing sim, it was more frustrating than LOMAC had been to get it to point I felt comfortable playing.
You’re probably asking, “Why isn’t (insert sim here) listed?” I didn’t choose any prop games because; well, because I don’t like props. I didn’t pick games like USAF or Strike Fighters because they were meant to be a little more relaxed than a true hardcore study sim (although there are a few diehard fans of SFP1 that would argue that point…mightily) and I didn’t pick Jane’s F/A-18 because unlike the three I did select, there was very little in the way of relaxed avionics settings or the flight model incorporated into the game. Which was odd, because a Casual Key Guide is clearly printed on the back of the spiral-bound manual but is featured nowhere in the game’s architecture.