Falcon 1 logo Amiga Computing Supreme Award

It may sound like something invented by an over-imaginative public relations executive, but Spectrum Holobyte's IBM PC F-16 simulator was so accurate the US Air Force adopted it as a pre-flight trainer for budding pilots.
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-generated line known as a snake.

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.


Falcon 1 logo CU Amiga Superstar

Mirrorsoft
Price: £29.99

The F-16 is proving a pretty popular jet for simulations these days. That is not surprising because the F-16 is probably the best dogfighter around. It is fast, highly manoeuvrable, highly equipped, and well armed. It is also flown by some of the best pilots in the world. Which is where you come in.

After EA's groundbreaking Interceptor, Spectrum Holobyte have come up with the state of the art fighter sim for the Amiga.

It comes on two disks with a manual that reads in places like an advanced maths text book. It took me an hour just to read it and get my head round some things involved. An even cursory read is advisory, but if you load up and get stuck straight in, you will start as a 1st Lieutenant - about the same kind of level as Interceptor. You cannot crash the thing - even into mountains - and the enemy is slipped a couple of Valium to keep them docile. MiGs are soft as Andrex and SAM missile bases do not launch at you should you stray who will arm your plane for you. But load up too heavy and you will plummet out of the sky.

There are a dozen missions to undertake and these range from the Milk Run, in which you go in for a bit of target practice, to Grand Slam in which you are required to take out four MiGs.

There are many different views of your jet, but the one you should concentrate on is in the cockpit. Familiarise yourself with the HUD display and the mass of dials in front of you. Again at starter level you won't need to worry so much, but later on everything requires your attention. You will also have to worry about adjusting your flaps and yaw/pitch. Try watching that lot when you are in a dogfight and try to toggle radar modes and set up a Sidewinder.

Like Interceptor you can look at the plane from outside and by pressing 2 you will be able to pan right round the plane. Possibly my favourite pastime when I am not splashing MiGs. There is a view from the control tower and a satellite view as well. Toggling F1/F2 allows you to zoom in and out. You are also allowed to look out both sides and even out the back.

Your various missions, failures and successes are all recorded in the Sierra Hotel role of honour. It is always preceded by little snapshots of the results of your efforts. Get blow away and you will see a still of a cross and a flypast, a cock-up normally results in a court martial (you will be blogged and busted), whilst an ejection shows as being successful or otherwise and may or may not suggest rescue. One small gripe is that if you eject you do not get to see your pilot fly out of the cockpit. There is no pleasing some people.

The graphics in Falcon are fine, the opposing MiGs are particularly well detailed, and there is a good deal to see on the ground. Sound is OK, and an improvement on most flight sims by the inclusion of a 'Bitchin' Betty', an audible warning that nags at you if you are in trouble. Well authentic.

Falcon is packed with depth and since this is a review and not a manual I simple do not have room to tell you just how good it is. No doubt it will be superseded by another sim soon, that is the beauty of the software scene. Until then, it is Sierra Hotel.


Falcon 1 logo Zero Hero

Mirrorsoft

Dunc: Not the first, not the most recent, but arguably the most enjoyable flight sim currently available on 16 bit.
Arguably? Well, let's have a butchers!

For me a ZERO Hero game (i.e. one that scores 90 plus) not only has to be good in itself, but the 'front end' and the way everything else ties together has to be well thought out too - and equally well executed. In Falcon it is.

Having typed in your 'call sign' (Colonel Love Piston in my case), you progress to the Mission Select screen. Here you choose one of the twelve missions (i.e. bombing an enemy runway protected by SAM sites and MiGs) and pick your own rank - from First Lieutenant (indestructible) through Major (hard) to Colonel (bordering on the impossible - except for mega-beings, hem, hem). A click on the mouse when you're happy with your selection takes you onto the 'arming your F-16' screen, where an animated Sergeant lets you know if your requests can be backed up by the ammunition stores. The 'conversation' often goes like this...

"Can I have the ALQ 131 ECM Radar Jamming Pod please, sarge?"
"Sorry Sir, Bob took the last one."
Anyway, this brilliant front end out of the way means that you're actually ready to fly. Click on 'take off'.

Wow. This is rather splendid actually - in fact it's better than that. There are so many views to choose from. Inside the cockpit you get the standard forward, back, left and right with all the controls and buttons and stuff in sight - and from there you can go to 'look up-mode' where you get these same viewpoints, but without the clutter of the controls. Instead of a thin strip of the outside world, you get a full screens-worth. If you take off, bank to port and look out of the left window in this 'look up mode', you get a fantastic feeling of being there.

You can also choose to view the action from outside the aircraft, whether from the control tower (watch yourself doing low level Biggin Hill stunts over the airfield - whoops, crashed) or from the 'remote camera' that can be rotated around the plane giving you a full 360 degree pan, with zoom option. And there's a 'satellite view' as well.

Having taken off (i.e. having memorised all the buttons and not crashed into the control tower), bung your afterburner on full power and climb to 60,000 feet. There's a lot of desert below you, with tiny wiggly blue lines, straight grey lines and little orange pyramids. Stick the nose down, drop to angles one zero (hem hem again) and these reveal themselves to be wide rivers, detailed roads with bridges, telegraph poles etc, and absolutely ginormous mountains.

This is your 'manor' - your 'patch'. Ten thousand square miles of desert populated by enemy landing-strips, SAM sites, bridges, buildings and MiG 21's. It's an idea to fly around for a while to familiarise yourself with the surroundings. Then it's time to learn how to use all those weapons you got from the Sergeant - whether we're talking high altitude dive bombing, low level missile strikes, or air to air sidewinder combat against the MiGs. You can always choose the Milk Run mission, where you have to bomb three practice buildings on friendly territory - but eventually you're going to have to cross 'the front line'.

I'll come clean, though - my first taste of blood (and I got court martialled for doing it) was when I shot down 'Bob'. (The greedy little bugger!).


Falcon 1 logo CDTV

MIRRORSOFT * £49.99

Possibly one of the most famous flight sims ever released, and this complete version comes with all the missions that were originally available on separate disks. It always was a good game and is little changed for CDTV - the only use of audio CD capabilities is for 'radio contact' messages in real speech, which do add an extra layer of realism to the atmosphere.

Inevitably, in a form intended to be played from a keypad, control is simplified, which gives a more combat-game feel. It's still great fun, but is no longer the best flight sim around and has not been radically updated for CD.


Falcon 1 logo CDTV

Trotz seines Alters gilt der Falke nach wie vor als eine der besten Flugsimulationen überhaupt - entsprechend Mühe hat man sich bei Mirrorsoft mit der CDTV-Version gegeben. Freilich, an die Steuerung ohne Tastatur muß man sich erst gewöhnen, aber dafür findet man hier sämtliche 36 Missionen des Originalprogramms und der zwei Zusatzdisks auf der Scheibe. Dazu gibt es ein paar brandneue filmartige Animationen, z.B. beim Pilotentraining, und man kann sich nun sogar mit dem Tower unterhalten (Sprachausgabe). Klares Urteil: ein Schmankerl!


Falcon 1...  ...Mission Disk 1 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Zwei Ansprüche muß ein guter Flugsimulator in besonders hohem Maß erfüllen: Möglichst realistisch soll es zugehen, und die Action darf dennoch nicht zu kurz kommen! Am beliebtesten scheint hier die Simulation einer F-16 zu sein, da sich gleich zwei Firmen entschlossen haben, den Amiga damit zu beglücken.

Da wäre zum ersten der vielfach ausgezeichnete Verkaufshit Falcon von Spectrum Holobyte, zu dem nun die erste Mission Disk erhältlich ist. Im Gegensatz zur "Grundausstattung" düsen Besitzer der Erweiterungsdiskette nun mehr durch eine sattgrüne Landschaft. Allerlei neue Einzelheiten wie z.B. Ölraffinerien und Fabrikgebäude erfreuen das Auge.

Vorbei auch die (relativ) gemächlichen Zeiten, als voneinander er unabhängige Missionen nacheinander abgehakt werden konnten. Jetzt heißt es, ständig ein wachsames Auge auf den heimischen Flughafen zu werfen, da dieser sonst vom Gegner überrannt wird. Für eine zusätzliche Herausforderung im Luftkampf sorgen neuerdings feindliche Fighter vom Typ MIG-29, welche die MIG-21 der Ursprungsversion ersetzen. Sozusagen zum Ausgleich wurde dafür die Landeprozedur erheblich vereinfacht - der Spieler darf nun in aller Ruhe auf das Rollfeld sinken, ohne dabei von gegnerischen MIGs traktiert zu werden.

Somit ist die erste Mission Disk eine gelungene Erweiterung, die, abgesehen vom etwas hohen Preis, sämtliche Erwartungen der Falcon-Fans erfüllen kann - inklusive nochmals erhöhtem Schwierigkeitsgrad!(mm)


Falcon 1...  ...Mission Disk 1 logo CU Amiga Superstar

Mirrorsoft
Price: £19.99

Usually, an add-on disk, such as the Sublogic Scenery Disks, are not really worth reviewing, but when an entire expansion system appears that almost creates a new game it is worth a little coverage. Falcon Mission Disk: Volume 1 is such a disk.

First of all I'd better explain what a mission disk actually is. Rather than simply creating scenery to fly around, à la Sublogic, Falcon is like being posted to active service after training. It does not create a new environment, there is a whole battle against a new enemy that puts you up against new and advanced hardware.

The flight sim aspect of Falcon has remained almost unchanged. The only things that have been altered are the one or two small in-flight 'bugs' that remained in the finished version of the game, which makes it much easier to land the craft now. The stark desert landscape of the original has now been replaced with a luscious green terrain, full of trees and bushes. The regular pyramids of the original have been replaced by irregular mountains.

There is far more to explore with extra ground features, like fields and buildings, and even a large lake that does serve a purpose. This brings me, rather nicely, to the other more significant difference. Rather than being just a series of disconnected missions to be taken in any order as many times as you like, FMD1 contains a full-scale offensive against your base. The first line of attack is the tanks trying to overrun your base. These are deposited just a mile or two north of your airfield by landing craft that move across the lake. Behind that you have trucks carrying supplies, trains also carrying supplies, supported by MiG-29s (rather than the 25s in the original) and finally the three strongholds, the tank factory, the munitions arsenal and the power station.

Glancing through the list of missions, you quickly notice that they follow a logical sequence of attack against the enemy, and should all the missions be completed sequentially, then the war is won.

Unlike the original Falcon, mission results do have an effect on other missions. Things stay 'dead' for a certain number of missions. Knock out a bridge to stop the trucks from reaching their destination, and the bridge stays knocked out for the next three missions you play, for example, which helps to lighten the load.

Falcon Mission is big, it is involving, and it manages to take the capabilities of an excellent product and use them to much better effect than the original ever did. If you have Falcon, this is a must, if you don't why?


Falcon 1...  ...Mission Disk 2 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Seit nunmehr einem Jahr fiebern die Piloten unter uns der zweiten Zusatzdiskette für den König der Simulationen entgegen. Jetzt ist es soweit: Wer nicht geglaubt hat, daß Spectrum Holobyte sich nochmals steigern kann, muß sich nun eines besseren belehren lassen!

Wahrhaftig: Die zweite Mission Disk fegt alle Zweifel mit überschallgeschwindigkeit beiseite - hier ist kein Aufguß der ersten angesagt, hier wimmelt es geradezu von brandneuen Features! Die wichtigste Neuerung ist wohl, daß man nun nicht mehr mit einer F-16A unterwegs ist, sondern mit der aktuelleren F-16C. Neben diversen technischen Verbesserungen ist somit auch die Bewaffnung wieder auf dem Stand der Dinge: Die neuen Amraam-Raketen haben eine viel größere Reichweite, sie treffen auch, wenn der Feind noch gar nicht in Sicht ist. Weiter gibt es jetzt harm-Missiles, die SAM-Stationen sozusagen unter Garantie zerstören. Selbst die Sidewinder-Raketen sind effektiver geworden, und ein ECM-Pod braucht man jetzt auch nicht mehr einzupacken, das ist nun schon serienmäßig eingebaut. Schließlich wurde noch das Radar überarbeitet, seit neuestem unterscheiden sich MiGs und SAM-Stationen farblich, was das Pilotenleben erheblich leichter macht.

All diese Verbesserungen sind auch bitter nötig, denn die Programmierer waren so frei, auch den Gegner mit eingien Neuheitenn zu versorgen. Er verfügt jetzt nicht nur über künstliche Intelligenz, sondern auch über en paar MiG-27, Bomber-MiGs und natürlich jede Menge der guten alten MiG-21 - meist greifen die Vögel gleich zu fünft an! Und weil das zwar viel, aber längst nicht genug ist, gehen auch noch Hind-Helikopter auf die Panzer des Spielers los.

Die eneuen Missionen sind natürlich auf die veränderten Verhältnisse abgestimmt und wieder sehr abwechslungsreich. Mit Angriff alleine ist es nun nicht mehr getan, jetzt muß auch verteidigt werden. Der Kampfpilot steht daher oft vor schwierigen Gewissensentscheidungen, denn was holft der erfolgversprechendste Angriff, wenn währenddessen der Feind das Hauptquartier einnimmt? Friedliche "Spazierflüge" fallen also komplett unter den Tisch, dafür kann man jetzt (vor dem Flug) auch Verstärkung anfordern. Mit einem Wort: eine knallharte Herausforderung für Top-Guns, die das Hauptprogramm bereits im Schlaff beherrschen!

Der Vollständigkeit halber sei noch erwähnt, daß auch die Außenansichten verbessert wurden, es kann nun stufenlos in beide Richtungen "gedreht" werden. Damit wäre so ziemlich alles gesagt, die wahren Fans sind vermutlich ohnehin längst unterwegs, um ihre Ersparnisse in das neue Falken-Futter zu investieren. Und Ihr? (mm)


Falcon 1...  ...Mission Disk 2 logo CU Amiga Screen Star

MIRRORSOFT
PRICE: £19.99

Even the most die hard Falcon/Mission Disk fn must be getting a little cheesed at wiping out the same tank column for the umpteenth time. What Mission Disk 2 offers is a full set of new missions, three types of enemy panel, helicopters, new weapons and a two pronged enemy attack.

When Falcon appeared it was hailed as the best thing ever in computer combat flight sims. It featured outside views of the plane like Electronic Arts' F18 Interceptor and a level of simulation that some people said rivaled the highly acclaimed SubLogic sims. With the addition of the first Mission Disk, Falcon's potential seemed limitless. But that was a long time ago.

The disk works as a replacement for the original Falcon Disk One. So there's no unnecessary copying or fiddling with blank disks. Perfect for techno-retards.

It's the missions which are the main feature in this package. Twelve in total, they range from picking of a pair of tanks to blowing merry hell out of a full scale enemy onslaught. With addition of helicopters the sky's not safe as it used to be. Now you can come under attack when you least expect it.

Your plane has also been modified, now it's an upgraded version of the F16A in Falcon. The main advantages now are BVR (Beyond Visual Range) Missiles and Radar Seeking missiles. These offer a new scope for tactics, as the BVR's allow you take out enemy aircraft before they get close enough to worry you, and you can deactivate SAM batteries by destroying their radars.

The enemy have also had a review of tactics. Instead of attacking just the one supply line or installation, they now launch combined air and ground attacks at different locations. This adds an interesting twist to your strategy as this time you have to work out which location is in immediate danger, and if it's worth breaking from your original objective in order to defend it.

I'm in two minds about this disk. Yes, it does offer a new set of missions and a few 'extras' but can it justify a £20 price tag when the game is basically the same thing you paid £30 for a year ago? If you feel the need for another fix of Falcon this mission disk comes highly recommended. On the other hand if your top characters have been MIA for the last six months you might well to hold onto your cash.