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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: F16 Fighting Falcon Preview

F16 Fighting Falcon Preview

Posted by Richard Goodwin on 00:00, 30/10/2000 | , ,
BoxA trilogy of flight sims from RCI has been on the cards for around six months, first heralded in public by a posting to the newsgroups asking for programmers, but it's only in the last couple of months that a coder has been found that was willing to take on the job. Given some of the technical information released by RCI in the last few days this is hardly surprising - the code is multithreaded, and although at the current state of play the 'plane flies, the camera pans and so on, it is currently running at about 7fps on a StrongARM machine which obviously needs to be worked on. This complexity means that the game will be StrongARM only, running in 640x480; according to Andrew Rawnsley, head of RCI, this looks "awesome", and once the framerate is up to speed the game will be "the definitive flight sim for RISC OS full stop".

Eat my dust!Networking is said to be "not impossible" thanks to a RISC OS IPX module that the company has in it's possession, but due to the complexity of the game and "the chances of two flight sim fans being in the same room with networked SA RPCs is a bit unlikely" networking is not high on the priority list, so don't hold your breath.
CampSo much for the state of play on the RISC OS version, but what exactly is F16? Digital Integration are well known for flight sims, and F16 followed on the heels of the classic helicopter sims Apache Longbow and the sequel, Hind. It works in several modes - training, single missions, or "campaigns" as well as an arcade-style shoot out - all in there's over 100 missions to attempt modelled on real map data from Korea, Israel and Cyprus, plus the PC has a seperate mission pack (suprise) for an Afghanistan campaign although inclusion of this in the RISC OS pack, a common RCI marketing technique, hasn't been mentioned yet.
The real aircraft is well known for excellent dog fighting capabilities and high performance; it was designed to be small, lightweight and highly manoeuvrable. Over 3,000 F-16s around the world currently in operation have over five million flight hours between them.
PayloadObviously this impressive statistic would be for nothing without some equally impressive hardware to help out - the game caters for sidewinders, AMRAAMs, Mavericks, HARMS, GBUs, CBUs, General Purpose and retarded dumb bombs, the CBU-89B mine dispenser and CBU-15 Durandal, rockets, fuel tanks and ECM pods. The radar and HUD work together to give you all of the cues needed to properly deploy these weapons. For air-to-air, you get the standard seeker and DLZ (Dynamic Launch Zone) symbology or your choice of EEGS (funnel), LCOS (Lead Computing Optical Sight) or snake for gunnery. Air-to-ground includes CCIP (Continuously Computed Impact Point), CCRP (Continuously Computed Releas Point), Dive/Toss and Strafe. Whatever all that means, it certainly seems impressive!
Sm_inflightDiversity is the name of the game when it comes to the amount of weaponry on display - on your side you might see eight 'planes, three helicopters, the Vulcan AAA and Patriot SAM launcher, six armored vehicles, two artillery types, five infantry weapons including an antitank weapon and mortar, eleven types of ship, seven other vehicles including a diesel locomotive and Leopard bridgelayer. Enemy craft are similarly well represented with twelve fixed wing aircraft including hostile F16s in Cyprus, eleven types of armored vehicle including the T-80, five types of artillery, nine infantry mounted weapons, fifteen ships including lifeboats and so on. Graphical detail, while not being of the gorgeous 3D accelerator inspired stuff of today, is still pretty impressive with features like smoke, clouds and shadows, plus camera views outside the 'plane, missile views and so on. You also get gratuitous cool stuff like a platoon of marines running across the runway as you start to take off at one point!
Another excellent feature is the inclusion of wingmen, a feature only really seen under RISC OS in arcade sim SF3000. You can control them using a series of commands, which include:
  • Wingman go home
  • Formation go home
  • Wingman follow me
  • Formation follow me
  • Wingman attack my target/help me
  • Formation attack my target/help me
  • Wingman resume flight plan
  • Formation resume flight plan
With the highest detail settings you even get radio chatter from your comrades, such as "let's go kick some ass" every time you take off, which might get annoying after a while.
CockpitReviews in the PC press were good, generally in the high 80s - user websites are a little more mixed, mainly due to the graphics not quite being up to the standards of the truly awesome sims of the same era, such as EF2000 (by the similarly-initialled DID) despite needing a fairly high-end PC to run, the lack of an autopilot feature other than a simple autolander, and other minor niggles like the fact that the wingmen rarely surviving a whole mission. Given that the current state of play under RISC OS has the near senile Chocks Away generally regarded as all-time best flight sim, RCI could be on to another winner.

Further information

Digital Integration:http://www.digint.co.uk/

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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: F16 Fighting Falcon Preview