I apologize to non-modern military fans if this post is sticking to the same theme of modern military, but I just stumbled upon two pieces of big news that could not wait to be shared! While doing random surfing on Gamestop, I found out that Jane's is indeed returning to the gaming world, after a long hiatus since their last title in 1999 (Jane's F-18). Jane's is a big name in military technology knowledgebases (I read some in the army to pass the time haha), and it's a powerful name to be attributed to any combat simulator, as it was akin to a stamp of authenticity.
Like many military geeks who grew up in the 1990s (read: Pentium 2s and 3-D acceleration was the new cool), Jane's combat simulators were synonymous with faithful reproductions of actual vehicle operation and combat situations, from realistic physics engines to complex controls that were spread across the keyboard...which really made you feel like you were having as close as an experience to the real thing. I grew up on Jane's Longbow Gold and Jane's Fighters Anthology, and those simply rocked my life upside down! Be it busting tanks in Iraq, or chasing MiGs over the skies of Vietnam, Jane's never failed to deliver adreneline pumped glimpses of combat.
|Screenshots of the F-35s and Su-35s as featured in yet-to-be-released JASF.|
Once I caught whiff of Jane's Advanced Strike Fighter (JASF), I immediately scoured the internet to find out more about it...hoping that Jane's was back to boss the combat simulator genre. Although the game is not out yet, there are some disturbing signs of "console-itis"...descriptions of JASF lacked any reference to realisitc physics engines, will be released on 360/PS3/PC, no virtual HUDs of the featured aircraft, and it is published by a family game company :( It is impossible to truly fly a fighter with only a gamepad, and the signs to me point toward a arcade like experience like Ace Combat Assualt (the "Modern Warfare" of flight sims=yuck). One good thing going for it is that it features advanced airplanes (unlike BF3 in JQ's post), as they have PAK FAs, Su-35s and F-35s in their lineup.
|The logo of Russia-based Eagle Dynamics, committed to realistic flight simulators.|
But combat flight sim fans out there, do not lose hope! Eagle Dynamics, the Russian team behind the legendary Flanker simulator, are in the business of making authentic combat flight simulators. They are currently working on their DCS (Digital Combat Simulator) series, and have released dedicated simulators for the Ka-50 Black Shark (Hokum) and A-10C Warthog. Moreover, they are offering Flaming Cliffs 2.0, which ports modern aircraft over to the DCS system (a list that includes the MiG-29, Su-25 and F-15), again with faithfulness to realisitc controls.
|A screenshot from DCS: Black Shark, fidelity combined with current graphics (ign.com).|
From the looks of their work, they seem to be doing an admirable job, especially in their fidelity to existing military technology (they actually have 51 controls just for the Ka-50 to take off, including the BIOS start-up of the computer system)...and at the same time doing a marvelous job graphically in modelling these beasts of war. Some complaints have been made about the AI, but the developers have been working on improving it too...it must be hard to make good AI that can navigate complex mechanics and give you a challenge at the same time. The only downside is that you need to purchase their base title before getting their latest entries (eg. Flaming Cliffs 2 requires Flaming Cliffs 1), which would put you back by about USD 50 depending on what you're looking for.
|A Su-25 Frogfoot as seen in Lock On: Flaming Cliffs 2.|
Somehow I am puzzled how Eagle Dynamics slipped by my radar, and I am really excited to read about the stuff they do! I am very interested in getting one of their titles and sadistically putting myself through learning real flight sim controls yet again...US or Russian aircraft fans, you'll definitely find something to thrill your inner pilot! (we've yet to see realistic simulators for aircraft from China and other nations..)