Back to Baghdad
Review by Alfred Giovetti, 10/03/96
Price: $59-$69 Street, $99 MSRP
Genre: Combat Flight Simulator (F-16)
Release: Summer 1996
Developer: Military Simulations Incorporated
Producer: Bob Carter and George Keverian
Publisher: Military Simulations Incorporated
Requirements: Pentium, 90 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, 75 MB Hard Disk space, MS-DOS 6.2, SVGA Video, 2xCD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster
Plot: Sometime after Desert Storm, the Iraqis rebuild what portion of their army was not destroyed and again threaten the free world. The Iraqis have now built up a nuclear arsenal and this must be destroyed forever. This time you must do the job right with your F-16.
Highs: Uses the latest declassified material to construct a very true-to-life flight model to rival SU-27. The systems in the plane mimic real-life F-16 readouts in how they look and work. Five radar modes for air-to-air combat and five ground attack radar modes with clean, legible multi-function displays (MFDs). Lacking in some flight sims, the gunsight tunnel for air-to-air attacks will be a centerpiece of the heads up display (HUD). Radar has features like radar azimuth, elevation, and lock control, TWIS detail and object of interest selection. Relevant target, tracking and lock symbology are all reproduced
Planes you fly: This is an F-16 Falcon simulator.
Sticklers for realistic and accurate data, feel, and terrain, the designers have recreated the desert, Baghdad, Kuwait City, Nasariah, Um Quasar, Tikrit, and Basra, complete with roads, mountains, railroads, and other terrain features from satellite pictures. These same sticklers helped design the avionics, weapons systems, and instrumentation to fit the actual plane rather than some game designer’s fantasy. The resulting game is strong on realism but weak on accommodating gamers with different preferences and skills.
Missions and Career: This is another romp in the desert against our favorite aggressor, Sadam Hussein and Iraq. Unfortunately, you cannot fly the missions from the Iraqi perspective.
Aggressor artificial intelligence (AI) is increased to included violent jinking, vertical maneuvers, bugging out, and other defensive and offensive maneuvers. The AIs will know their fuel state, a unique thing considering that most AIs in most games have unlimited fuel. Some AIs are impossibly difficult to get off your tail.
Views: There is no padlock view, but there are various external and within the cockpit views, which do not include a no cockpit view as first used in Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat CYAC. A feature that is similar to the CYAC game is the Hawkeye sight that gives you a magnified view of the opponents aircraft and the angle of attack. While this may seem like a cheat, Doug Call my copilot in this publication feels handicapped by the visuals in many of these games. Many real F-16 pilots have better than normal eyes, what I call Yeager eyes, which allow the pilots to see and identify planes before us mud sloggers can even see the dot in the sky. Yeager had 20-10 vision, which means he could see twice as far as normal mere mortals. The Hawkeye sight gives the real pilots back their eyes, and lets the rest of us share their optical talents, at least as long as we play the game.
Realism: The aerodynamics seem to take account of the stress and performance bleed off while pulling hard high G turns of 4-8 g. Load and altitude change performance making the plane fly like a plate balanced on the end of a stick when approaching maximum altitude. Go too high and the plane becomes unstable and dives for lower climes.
Graphics: Like many simulator graphics, the cockpits show more detail and graphical resolution than the ground or other planes. The ground is very flat since it is a desert with a few hills and the cities are very realistic, with blinking lights and other features that make the cities look real.
Interface: The 8 key, called the Sensor of Interest control, will select the sensor system for you. Control can be by keyboard, but as with most simulators, the precise control of flying really requires a set of joysticks and throttle controllers, such as the CH Products or Thrustmaster variety of professional quality sticks.
Utilities: Load times before each mission are intolerably slow even with SCSI-2 fast hard drives, 8X CD ROM drives, disk caching, 166 MHz Pentium processor, and PCI 32 bit interface. Once loaded, the game plays fine with 64 MB of RAM. I did not test the game at 16 or 32 MB of RAM. You can rig up a separate small monochrome monitor to simulate an in dash MFD. The manual is bereft of the basic information about flying and basic military information that would be needed by someone who never served time as a member of an F-16 squadron.
Multiplayer will not be released when the game comes out, but it is promised shortly thereafter through a local area network (LAN) for up to 100 players. Manual is less than one would expect from a serious flight simulator. The lack of wingmen severely impairs the realism pioneered in the flight system.
Learning curve: steep!
Reviews: Steve seems to think that difficulty is the definition of a serious flight simulation, and has nominated both Back to Bagdad and Su-27 for the crown.
Todd Vaughn, PC Gamer, volume 3, number 6, June, 1996, pg. 30-32.
Denny Atkin, Computer Gaming World, number 146, September, 1996, pg.32-33, warm, (66%).
John-Paul Gionet, http://www.gamesmania.com/english/reviews/new/b2b.htm, 7.5/10 (75%)
Steve Wartofsky, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 71, October, 1996, pg. 114, 4/5, (80%-90%).
Bernard Dy, Computer Player, volume 3, number 5, October, 1996, pg. 77, 8/10, (80%).