It may sound like something invented by an over-
Now the same program is available for the Amiga, with the British development team producing a version that will certainly give Interceptor a run for its money.
Falcon starts with the rookie pilot signing on the duty roster. This contains five levels of difficulty: First lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel and full colonel. The higher the chosen rank the more accurate the simulation - and consequently flight becomes more difficult.
Once you have progressed past the initial level, you must visit the flight sergeant before take-off. Pilots on the basic level begin with everything set at maximum, but those who've earned promotion need to kit out their craft before a flight. The sergeant acts as more than just a store-man, he's ready with good advice that even experienced pilots will ignore at their peril.
The next stage is to enter the cockpit and familiarise yourself with the controls. The head up display (HUD) is complemented by a three screens of dials and controls - represented as a left view, a right view and straight ahead. The majority of the necessary flight controls are constantly in view, while less often used indicators such as damage control and fuel levels are situated on either side.
Because there's so much to be considered during flight, most of the weapons accessing and target acquisition is set automatically by the ship's on-board computer. Bombing is aided by a computer guidance system that goes as far as telling you when to drop the bomb, while air to ground cannon fire is directed by a computer-
Developing flight skills is one thing but entering into combat is a different ball game. For what must be a first in home computer simulations, the enemy is depicted as a fully detailed and accurate craft in its own right. In fact, the enemy is so realistic that I almost ducked for cover when the first MiG shot past my cockpit.
Excellent speech greets each kill - but don;t expect to hear this for quite a while.
MiGs aren't the only threat hidden in the Falcon landscape. Surface to air missiles (SAMs) pose a constant threat. Fly too low over oe and you're almost certainly a gonner - despite your HUD's instant launch warning.
Pilot error is a common cause of mission failure, and Falcon represents this extremely accurately. Attempt to pull off an impossible manoeuvre and you may find the screen turning red as your on-screen counterpart passes out.
Once again practice makes perfect and the best way to know if a manoeuvre is feasible or not is to test it out with the air combat manoeuvres (ACM) section. In a similar fashion to Interceptor, a flight instructor leads the way in another aircraft.
What makes this different is the series of red boxes generated on screen to form a tunnel for the budding pilot to fly though. It's impossible to overestimate the help that this feature is to competent flying.
The last obstacle to a successful mission is the landing sequence - and even this is computer-aided to a degree. An instrument landing system (ILS) is available to keep you on the straight and narrow, but it's still up to you to keep the nose up and the speed down.
When a mission has been completed, the pilot's progress is represented by a series of "snapshots" showing exactly what would have happened in a real life situation. Perform well enough and you may end up with your nae and rank displayed in Sierra Hotel, Falcon's equivalent of a high score table. But once again, don't expect to see that for quite some time.
Simulation fans who were impressed by Interceptor are going to love this program. It's actually a good deal more difficult to get to grips with, but the extra effort is well worth the trouble. It's as if the programmers have learned from Interceptor and taken the whole thing about 10 steps further.
The basic 512k simulation is an experience not to be missed, but those in possession of a 1Mb machine can sample the additional delights of the black box feature. Available at any time, this shows the mission's flight path in three grids, plotting the course of both the pilot and any enemy in the vicinity.
Those who thought that Interceptor was the ultimate in Amiga flight simulation are in for quite a shock - and a lot of Amiga owners had better be prepared to spend a great deal of the next few months with their head in the clouds.