Preview by Al Giovetti
Genre: combat flight simulator
Release: June 1997
Producer: Scott Randolf
Publisher: Spectrum Holobyte
Phone: 1-800-695-GAME, 619-693-1200
Requirements: Windows 95, Pentium 90 MHz with 3D Accelorator or 166 MHz
without, 2X CD ROM,
Company line: Spectrum HoloByte, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBYT), a leader in realistic
air combat simulations, introduces the next generation of its award-winning
Falcon flight simulation game, Falcon 4.0. Spectrum HoloByte's Falcon software
is widely recognized as a leader in the flight simulation category, and this
fourth generation release will not disappoint flight simulation fans! The game
will be developed under the MicroProse® brand and distributed worldwide.
The Falcon 4.0 game is a Windows® 95, multiplayer air combat simulation game
set in the Korean peninsula, with a real-time war in progress, in which the
player takes the role of a pilot in an F-16 jet fighter. Providing the most
authentic F-16C flight modeling to date, this game will include highly
detailed models of avionics systems, weapons systems, threat environments and
artificial intelligence. The terrain, planes, air bases, weapons and other
objects in the simulation will be rendered with detailed 3-D texture-mapped
graphics using digitized aerial photography, creating a highly realistic
visual experience for the player.
Falcon 4.0 will contain a complex Campaign Manager, which creates a living,
evolving land/air/sea battle within which F-16 pilots can fly their missions.
Pilots can choose their missions based on the context of the ongoing battle
which allows pilots to personally make a difference in the campaign.
History: Spectrum Holobyte has sold over one million copies of Falcon flight
simulation software. The first Falcon game was introduced in 1987 for IBM and
Macintosh formats, with a quick port to the Atari ST and Amiga. I remember
first playing the game on the Atari ST and later the IBM. The game introduced
several innovations, such as the padlock view that allowed full simultaneous
360 degree view that allowed the sim jock to follow the enemy pilot anywhere.
Falcon 3.0, which many feel is the best flight simulator ever produced with
tons of missions in many campaigns, was introduced in 1991. Falcon 3.0 is one
of the best selling games and most highly rated games of all time.
Plot: You are a single F-16 pilot fighting a war in Korea for the United
Game play: "We believe the Falcon 4.0 game will set a new, higher standard in
the flight simulator category," said Chris Deyo, Vice President, Marketing of
Spectrum HoloByte, Inc. "The amazing terrain and the continuous battle promise
to immerse the player into the most realistic combat simulation ever."
Scott Randolph said, "Targets don't "pop" up either. If you can get a strong
enough radar return, you can see targets out to the 80-mile limit of the
F-16's radar scope. Since we've got a real campaign, we know what every
vehicle in the game is doing all the time. If you decide to take an alternate
route to your target or ignore your target entirely, that's fine. There will
still be an interesting world with a war on out there."
Detailed models of F-16 avionics, weapons and threats will provide a most
realistic combat flight simulation.
You fly against:
Scenarios: Falcon 4.0 is planned with only one theater of operations, Korea.
Scott Randolf commented on the on theater by saying, "Those of you who've
flown NovaLogic's F-22 Lightning II game may worry that Falcon 4.0, with only
one theater, won't have enough variety in our scenery. Not to fear. Unlike
F-22, Falcon 4.0 will have a full-sized realistic map so that you can fly from
one end of Korea to the other and see all the variety of terrain you would
expect as you pass over rivers, lakes, cities, forests, farmland and
mountains. The scenery is good enough that it's fun to simply fly around and
Artificial intellligence: "The ongoing simulation of a complex air/land/sea
battle, called the Campaign ManagerTM, will create all of the tension, chaos
and adventure that exists in modern air combat, immersing you within the
Graphics: Falcon 4 will have 3-D photorealistic, texture-mapped graphics.
Senior Graphics Engineer, Scott Randolph shared the following thoughts, "When
I started on this project, Flight Unlimited was just hitting the shelves. We
were all impressed by its ground-breaking realism, but knew we had to do
better. We needed to build a world 2,500 times larger with much greater visual
variety and still retain the same level of realism and fit on one CD-ROM. A
year and a half later, we've accomplished that and much more."
"All of Falcon 4.0 will run in "high color" mode (that is, 65,000 simultaneous
colors). In addition, both the setup screens and the flight simulation have
been optimized for high-resolution display modes (800x600 and 640x480
respectively). This will allow us to provide unprecedented image quality and,
just as importantly, variety. In the past, games have been limited to 256
colors for entire scenes. The result is often "cartoonish" looking
environments. With thousands of colors to work with, our artists have been
free to accomplish wonders. "
"We started out with satellite photographs and elevation data covering all of
Korea. This gave us good-looking terrain, but we wanted more. The satellite
images just weren't crisp enough. We went out and found hundreds of aerial
photographs from all over the country. These we cut up, processed and
rearranged to supplement the satellite data throughout the map. The result is
a startlingly realistic pilot's-eye view of the world with excellent detail no
matter where you fly on the map."
We've put a great deal of effort into ensuring that you do get to see the
terrain; and lots of it. Few things are more frustrating to me than flight
simulations that seem to think the entire world is shrouded in dense fog all
the time. We've certainly got haze and fog in Falcon 4.0, but on good days,
you should be able to see major terrain features 50km or more into the
distance. Of course, nobody can see a airplane or a tank that far away, but
you can certainly see the ground! We simply won't tolerate mountains "popping"
up in front of you at the last minute. We've developed a "level of detail"
system which reduces terrain detail in the distance smoothly so that important
terrain features are preserved, while subtle details fade out to maintain
As was mentioned previously, Falcon 4.0 has been designed from the beginning
to be a multiplayer game with a real-time campaign running all the time. One
consequence of this is that war goes on 24 hours a day (in game time, of
course). We've put a lot of effort into making sure that the night-fighting
experience is just as intense as the daylight missions. A lot of little things
go into making this happen. When the sun goes down, it stains the western sky
crimson. The city lights begin to come on, and as night sets in, the stars
emerge. If you're lucky, it isn't a moonless night, and you'll get some
additional lighting in the target area when the moon rises. You'll have to
keep an eye out for AAA and SAMs, but at night that job is a little easier
thanks to the muzzle flash and rocket exhaust.
I've talked a lot about the terrain now, but what about the 3-D objects in the
world? We've gone all out in this department as well. We've got several
hundred air, sea and land objects from the U.S., South Korean, North Korean,
Russian and Chinese inventories in the game. Each object has had its own
textures individually drawn to capture specific details. The objects are
dynamically lit by the sun and are Gouraud-shaded for a smooth appearance.
Animation: Scott shared other thoughts on animation, "Both the terrain and
objects for Falcon 4.0 are all new. We've designed cutting-edge performance
into the engine from the start. Both software-only and hardware-accelerated
graphics are supported by the game. The one surprise might be that, although
we're running under Windows 95, we aren't using Direct3D. We simply couldn't
get the performance and quality we need out of the current version. Instead
we've built on previous work by Intel and come up with our own graphics engine
which produces excellent image quality and performance. We're planning to ship
with support for 3-D cards including those with chips built by 3Dfx,
Rendition, Cirrus Logic, ATI and S3. As more hardware is coming out all the
time and discussions are ongoing, this list is likely to evolve and grow. "
"We've built in hundreds of special behaviors like retractable landing gear,
traversing and elevating turrets, rotating antennae and moving control
surfaces to give each object a life of its own. We want to give you that
deep-down feeling in your guts when you look out the window and see all the
AAA guns tracking you."
Multi-player options: The game will be programmed as a multiplayer air combat
simulation set in the Korean peninsula, but further details are unknown.
Tim Soete, http://www.gamespot.com/previews/falcon4/index.htmlE3 debut press release: