It was the Microprose Era. For an old gamer like me, Microprose was synonymous of top-notch simulation, huge manuals, big and beautiful box (carton box, not that plastic Dvd box): the final result was sensation to-be-there, in the cockpit. It creates a world worth to live, a world worth... flying even if it was all between your mind, eyes and screen.
In 1998, when Microprose released Falcon 4.0, it was the definitive F-16 simulation. I think, THE simulation. Even if it was very bugged, I never regret any minute spent playing...er...flying.
Then simulation niche market collapsed. Microprose closed. Falcon's franchise, too. Falcon's web community became the reference for every Falcon orphaned pilot and released a lot of mods. I say "pilot" because to master that simulation, you have to have to study manuals, procedures, maps. Maybe someone think this is a game and I don't want to study anything, but - let me assume the odd teacher's role - studying the manual (huge one) adds deep in gameplay and gives real satisfaction.
In 2005, Graphism Entertainment released Falcon 4.0 Allied Forces, developed by Lead Pursuit. Falcon strikes back!
Falcon 4.0 Allied Forces has its roots in the original Falcon 4.0, but it adds improvements to a lot of simulation's main aspects: stability (the first real problem in the original version), artificial intelligence, dynamic campaign , multiplayer. It also improved some other aspects as the user interface, graphics, campaign theatre (It adds the Balkan Campaign).
The retail box (not a dvd one, God bless Graphism Entertainment!) contains a 110-page printed manual, that covers most important features of the F-16 and is a good start for new players. The original Falcon 4.0 manual was far better, but for the hardcore (and swot) simmers there is a 716-page PDF manual included in the CD game. This manual is very accurate, contains a lot of color images and is worth printing. Maybe expensive but if you have a minimal interest in flying and aircraft, do you a favor: print it.
The Intro sequence is changed and it is a good video footage of a real F-16. I still prefer the original one but it may be nostalgia. The user interface is clear and functional: a good improvement of the original one, inspired to previous community mods.
Now it's time to take off. First thing you notice is the graphics and I'm happy to say that there is a lot of improvements in several aspects:
- high resolutions graphics and high detailed 3D models for most of the aircrafts.
- Excellent 2D and 3D cockpit. You can click on almost every button and lever in the cockpit. For new comers that "jungle" of buttons is confusing, but there is an easy setting that simplifies avionics and so the buttons to know.
- Terrain well lighted and populated, even if a little sensation of repetitive texture still remains flying at high altitudes.
- Weather effects change dynamically during a campaign.
Sound isn't so enhanced as the graphics, it seems all the same the original version. Actually I didn't heard any F-16's engine roaring so I can't tell if it is similar to real one. I feel it as a realistic one, so I'm satisfied.
The best part of original Falcon was the dynamic campaign. The campaign is immersive: you feel to be part of a more complex operation and you can actually contribute to the final victory, succeeding in your own mission. It's not one-against-all like ordinary story in ordinary videogame. Falcon doesn't require an hero, but a good and disciplined pilot. In conclusion, this new release is a good enhancement and a solid product on its own. If you have only a little interest in jetfighter simulation and modern air warfare, there's really no choice: buy it and...watch your 6, always!