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Reviewed: F/A-18
Author: Chris Kim       Date: January 18th 2000
Page: 2

From the same developers of the great F-15 game, comes F/A-18, which has a lot of the same qualities and improves on some of the shortcomings of that game. What was brought by F-15 were great physics, full avionics systems, and weapons systems. All this is included in this game and more. One of the largest appeals of F/A-18 is the extensive research and accuracy that went into creating this next generation simulation of this newest plane of the U.S. Navy.

What F/A-18 shows is that study simulations based on just one plane with extensive research and detail to create an extremely accurate simulation can still have a wide appeal because F/A-18 should be able to please both hardcore and novice simmers alike. The detail that went into creating the most accurate Super Hornet simulation should show to hardcore simmers that it was designed for hardcore simmers while the game also offers many switches to turn off a lot of the realistic physics features to make the game much easier to control and maneuver.

3D Clouds
Carrier - Dusk
Carrier - Night

As stated before, F/A-18 was designed with universal appeal to both hardcore and novice simmers alike. The amount of detail that went into creating some of the best flying and accurate Super Hornet simulation is quite evident with the extensive and painstakingly accurate recreated cockpit and avionics systems. Every system and device that is found within the Super Hornet is virtually recreated in the cockpit (or so we're led to believe). Every single radar system, monitoring gauge, switch, and communication system is there. Not only are these just here for looks, but each of them perform their specific function accurately. One of the coolest features about the cockpit is that it is fully interactive, every knob and switch within the cockpit can be touched and the function they perform will be executed.

The HUD display in the game is quite thoroughly recreated. The navigation, air to air, and air to ground/surface displays are all very detailed with most if not all the displays and functions that the real life counterpart does. On the aiming crosshairs, the several carets and projected hit displays are present. Another system that was very well implemented was the communications systems, a lot of communication between several different sources such as towers, other wingmen, and carriers.

Ready to Drop the Bomb
Complex Cockpit
Enemy Bear Shot Down

Physics of any flight simulator are extremely important. This should not be a point of concern for gamers who purchase F/A-18 because the physics are very well programmed into the game. As stated before, F/A-18 is very configurable to the taste of the player. The physics can be adjusted to a very realistic simulation or can be almost turned into an arcade game with all of the options available to the player. In the most realistic setting, the Super Hornet handles just like a next generation plane would. The plane itself is very versatile and maneuverable and has a lot of power. One of these extreme realistic physics that influence the flight of the plane is the direct relation the weight of the plane has with how it handles in flight. For instance, if the plane weighs more than 45,000 lbs., it won't be able to land on a carrier and must also catch the third wire and halt to 100 knots in 150 feet of carrier, or if the flyer tries to pull up at a vector of sharper than 14 degrees then the gear landing systems will be severely damaged or break off. All of these conditions of how well the plane handles in certain conditions are also very well recreated in flight.

The flight systems are very accurately recreated with the aiming and firing systems behaving with limitations. Not like a super machine, but the game handles the combat quite fairly. Both air and ground confrontations have distinct feels and certain types of weapons and approach must be used. The game itself has a lot of configurability in terms of loadouts, mission planning, wingmen line-ups, and other mission planning stages.

Sun Flares
Oncoming Fire
Splash Carrier

Actually playing the game is a lot of fun. There are five modes to play in, campaign, single mission, instant action, training, and multiplayer. For novices to the game, the training missions are great to play around with and learn how to play the game. While the training missions might not be as robust and complete as those found in USAF, they do suffice for learning to play the game enough to be successful. Single missions are just stand-alone levels that have a certain task to be accomplished. Instant action is just straight out war without any mission tasks. Campaign is really what shines out of everything else, the storyline of the whole campaign is great with Russia just recently being divided into two nations, Red and Blue, the U.S. sides with the Blue Russians to prevent the rebellious Red Russians from over running the country. The campaign is semi-dynamic with what the result from that previous mission directly affects what the next mission is and the story flows very well. The campaigns are well designed and should maintain plenty of interest and this semi-dynamic approach keeps players on their toes with being able to anticipate moves of scripted missions.

One of the best parts about F/A-18 is the inclusion of the campaign editor included. The editor isn't exactly user friendly, but it is the same tool that the developers used to produce the missions in the game, hence the editor is extremely powerful. The functions in the editor should be able to produce a lot of excellent missions on the net. Although the tool is extremely complex, the tool is comprehensively covered in the manual.

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Added:  Tuesday, January 18, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 2/5

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