Well, after flying F-15 for a couple of weeks, I have to say that Jane's has crafted one of the best flight sims on the market. While the graphics of F-15 aren't quite as spiffy as DID's F22-ADF, or EIDOS' JSF, they certainly look awfully good when pumped through a 3Dfx based accelerator card. Origin decided to make sure that they created one of the most real feeling experiences out there. The level of immersion and 'pucker factor' (if you don't know, don't ask), in the game really make you want to come back for more. There are still a few bugs to be worked out, but Origin/EA is supposedly hard at work at patching the relatively minor flaws. Additional kudos go do Origin/EA Jane's for putting in a several hundred page spiral bound manual to explain how all the gadgets and doo-dads work.
The plane modelled in the game is the McDonnel Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle variant. This is a high-tech fighter/bomber (or bomber/fighter I should say), designed to penetrate deep into enemy territory, deliver upwards of 30,000 pounds of armament with precise infra-red and laser targetting systems, and get home in one piece. F-15E's delivered untold tons of bombs against Iraq during Desert Storm, including the only known (and previously even thought of) kill against an Iraqi helicopter with a laser guided air-to-ground bomb.
The Strike Eagle can trace it's lineage back to the late '70's, when the F-15A was first delivered to the United States Air Force. This is a big bird, not a stealth plane by any means, and only a medium capability fighter, unlike the excellent F-15C, which pretty much fulfills an air-to-air only role. Due to all of the extra weight/drag of modifications necessary for it to perform its air-to-ground role, the F-15E can't go toe-to-toe with the big boys like the Mig-29 or SU-27, so generally the order of engagement when on strike missions is: avoid detection, call in for fighter support, launch long range radar missiles, jettison stores, run like hell, and only engage in air-to-air combat if you can't get away from the bad guys in time. That doesn't mean that the E can't engage in air-to-air battles. It can carry up to 8 missiles in mixtures of AIM-9 Sidewinders, AIM-7 Sparrows, and the new long range AIM-120 AMRAAM missile.
The Strike Eagle can carry combinations of AGM-65 missiles, CBU cluster bombs, GBU laser and optical guided bombs, BLU anti-runway munitions, and just about every 250-2000+ lb post war iron 'dumb' bomb.
|Jane's lists the requirements as the following:
||My setup is as follows:
I'm not sure how Origin/EA is able to run the game on a 133, unless they're turning all the detail off. On my system with all details on, the game does run pretty well, although sometimes in heavily congested areas, the frame rate does suffer somewhat. Note, however, that whether I was running a Voodoo1 based card, or the Voodoo 2 that is in the machine now, the frame rate would be about the same, because it is the CPU that is choking on the load here, and not the 3D card. I've heard from folks running the 300 Mhz machines that the frame rates are smooth as silk. Having said that, the game does run at a brisk pace. I seldom see the frame rate drop below about 20 fps.
Wow! Origin/EA Jane's went all out in this area. If it is in the real F-15, you'll probably find it here. Almost every button in the cockpit (and in the pictures below you are only seeing 1/2 of the front cockpit and none of the rear) is functional, from the buttons on the multi-function displays (MFD) to the switch to set at what fuel level 'Bitchin Betty' comes on and tells you you're at 'Bingo' fuel.
The MFD's are the heart of this flying monster. Three MFD's are available to the pilot up front, and another 4 to the rear seat WSO ('whizzo'). The MFD's in the F-15E allow the pilot to access data for navigating, creating high resolution maps of the target area, radar control, weapon selection, threat detection, and monitoring critical engine and fuel systems. Of course, in case of malfunction, there are analog backups for all of the critical flight and navigation instruments.
The only systems that don't appear to be modelled in the game are the controls at the pilot's sides, which handle things like flight recording, radio frequency selection, heat/air-conditioning, and other rather non-game essential functions.
For those that aren't propeller head button pushers like myself, there is an 'easy' avionics mode, making targeting, threat detection, and radar modes much more manageable to the casual flight simmer.
Ok, like I said, the graphics aren't quite as good as say, F22 ADF, they are awfully nice. There are some pics from the game below. Click on the thumbnail image to see it in full size, but realize that with the extremely limited space I've got for this site, I had to use pretty low quality jpeg images. Some of the special effects (like the exploding oil refinery below) are spectacular. One of the little extras that you can't see in these stills is that the sim not only light source models the plane, but if you look at it from an external view and do a roll, you can see that they model the sheen (specular reflection) of the aircraft skin and cockpit glass
A flight of 4 F-15s
Splashing tanks in
Hitting an oil refinery.
Hitting a factory in
|Formation flying at night.
Boy is it dark!
Superb! This plane feels heavy, from the moment you heave it off of the runway. The plane bleeds speed like crazy in turns, which is one of the big reasons not to get into a turning dogfight with anything more spry than your aged grandmother. Yank-n-bank is a method best left to Falcon drivers, because you can put yourself in a lethal position using those tactics in the Strike Eagle. There are a couple of flight modelling bugs concerning fuel flow, but they are supposedly being worked on at the moment.
This sim puts you in the action better than any sim I've played so far. Wingmen are actually smart (gasp!), and will not only follow orders, but confirm each other's kills, radio for help when ejecting, and attack both air and ground targets with competency. One fun little thing to do is pull some wid manuevers, and listen to your WSO get ill as you dart around the sky.
I was flying a mission in Kuwait the other day when my wingie #3 gets hit by an IR SAM. After assessing the situation, another flight member radios 3 that his engine is on fire, at which point, 3 ejects. My WSO calls in a search and rescue helicopter (SARH) request, and talks to the stranded crew as they land on the hostile ground.
Flying missions at night can really make you sweat. As you near the target, you can see the areas around the cities light up with AA fire, a la the Iraqis during Desert Storm. Couple this with low visibility, loud warning klaxons and yelling wingmen/WSO's and you really feel like you are there.
In flight refuelling with a KC-135 flying boom refueller will make you scream with frustration as you try to inch your way to the boom, and then scream with joy once you actually succeed (there's a cheat key if you really can't take it anymore).
There are two campaigns in this release of the game (with the possiblity of additional disks coming later), Iraq-Desert Storm, and Iran-2002. I haven't finished Iraq yet, and haven't even started to fly in Iran yet. Campains are of a pre-scripted branching type, but semi-dynamic. If you destroy a SAM site in one mission, it will still be dead in the next one.
There are also single missions, which players can create and trade with the mission builder, training missions that let you practice without worrying about being shot down, and there is an instant action mode, which randomly generates air-to-ground, or air-to-air scenarios which are different every time.
I haven't tried online multi-play yet, so I can't comment on how good it is, but others have said that it still needs a little work. The biggest letdown is that unlike Jane's other flight sims, and F-15 Strike Eagle II, you can only fly head to head, rather than have one guy in the front seat, and one in the back.
If you are in any way a flight sim enthusiast, have a beefy machine with a 3Dfx card, and don't have Jane's F-15, run, don't walk to your nearest computer store and grab this thing, you just cannot go wrong.
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