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Reviewed: F/A-18
Author: Chris Kim       Date: January 18th 2000
Page: 3

Multiplayer support and gameplay in F/A-18 is excellent. Up to eight players can compete in the battle either on a LAN or Internet through Jane's Combat. Individual missions can be flown with opponents or foes. Head to head or team campaigns can be flown with a lot of success. The various multiplayer fights can be a lot of fun depending on how they are played.

Again with the AI and difficulty of the game, the difficulty can be adjusted on four different levels. The easiest setting to the hardest setting can adjust how smart or dumb both of the wingmen and opponents fly. On the easier settings the opponents are much less aggressive and while not take advantage of the player's errors. On the higher difficulty levels the opponents will fly more aggressively and attack more frequently with smarter tactics. Definitely with corresponding levels of difficulty, the player can configure how to play or approach the game. Novices can get into the game just as easily as a hardcore simmer can. There are a few quirks with the friendly pathfinding AI that is sometimes annoying. On the escorting missions, these units can be stupid and really lag behind or not follow the rest of the pack. Wingman AI is fairly strong and usually performs tasks fairly quickly and efficiently to the best of their ability.

Mission Builder
Bombing Mission
Jane's Reference

As it was stated before, F/A-18 can really be toned down to allow novices to flight simulations really get into the game easily. The menu systems in the game are really easy to follow and get into. While it might not be the quickest interface, it does get the job done. Configuring planes and adding weapons or changing loadouts are very simple. Remapping waypoints or changing the mission approach is fairly simple to do. Within the game itself, switching between radar systems and performing tasks is fairly simple to do, while maintaining the complexity of controlling a difficult fighter jet. One cause of concern about the interface however is the text and labels. A lot of the time the green text blends too much into the backdrops sometimes making the text illegible. Sometimes the text will also just disappear on labels of enemies and friendly NPC units.

The default keyboard mapping of functions is pretty well laid out and pretty similar to other Jane's titles. Control is effective and gets the job down. Keyboard control never does suffice for flight simulators, so of course the joystick is input device of choice. With an analog joystick controlling the plane was very effective and worked well. One area that F/A-18 could have used a little bit of improvement was force feedback, the effects in the game weren't very convincing or strong according to what was happening in the game.

HARM Launched
Wingmen Lineup
Over the Shoulder

In terms of gameplay, F/A-18 really delivers. The graphics in F/A-18 are just as equally rewarding and deep. The engine is a very heavily modified version of the F-15 engine with a brand new terrain rendering system that shows off some of the heavy work put into the graphics. Much of the terrain is excellently produced with extremely detailed fields and mountain terrain. Lighting was also heavily stressed in the way with the way that the sun and other light sources reflect and play games on the eye is really compelling. Light bounces off of other objects, reflection off of water or other planes can directly play a role in the player's view. Lens flares can obscure the pilot's view and possibly even put him in trouble. One of the most realistic looking sun flares is recreated by the reflections as the lighting will be reflected inside the cockpit depending on the angle the light approaches the cockpit illuminating parts of the cockpit. Out at sea, one major enemy of a pilot must be fog. The fogging effects in F/A-18 are extremely well done; it almost felt like that the 3D clouds rendered in the game were almost real. Playing the game during a dark night setting produced a very convincing environment, the illumination of the carrier's runway and lights on other planes are something to look at.

While the models may not be the most compelling graphics in the game, planes, ships, and all other models are still excellently modeled. Shadowing work and reflections off the chrome is pretty solid. The outside camera angles really do show off the graphics pretty well. The game does support many graphical options to make it look better or worse, but without a very powerful system don't expect to see what F/A-18 was ment to look like. Even on a 450mhz CPU with 192MB RAM on a G400 Accelerator performance was still a bit weary on 800x600.

Enemy MiG Down
Sunny Horizon
Mission Briefing

Sound is something that is really sparse in most flight simulations and F/A-18 follows that common rule. The most common sound effects are only evident in speech of the radio. But the speech used over the radio is excellent. The voices really give a compelling reenactment of what would be happening; the emotion can almost be felt as to what was happening in their region. Sound effects can be adjusted according to the position of the camera. When the camera is placed inside the cockpit, the sound is muffled as to how it would really sound within the cockpit and outside cameras really give the experience of feeling the plane outside of the plane.

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Added:  Tuesday, January 18, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 3/5

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