Games PC Lock On - Modern Air Combat
Developed by The Fighter Collection - Ubisoft Entertainment (2003) - Flight Combat Sim - Rated Everyone
Take to the virtual skies for a realistic simulation of flight and combat in one of many modern U.S. and Russian fighter craft. Developed under the working title "Flanker: Attack," this combat flight sim from the producers of 1999's acclaimed Flanker 2.0: Combat Flight Simulator offers virtual pilots the chance to climb into the cockpit of the F-15C Eagle, the MiG-29k, the A-10 Warthog, the Su-27 Flanker, or one of several other real-life marvels of late 20th-century aviation. ~ T.... Read more
Developer: The Fighter Collection
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Release Date: November 18, 2003
Controls: Keyboard, Mouse
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Games PC Lock On-modern Air Combat, size: 8.6 MB
Games PC Lock On - Modern Air Combat
User reviews and opinions
|jgdesloy||7:43pm on Thursday, November 4th, 2010|
|I bought this sim about 2 years ago.....it is only game that has stayed on my hard drive since that time. Deep, with a long learning curve.|
Comments posted on www.ps2netdrivers.net are solely the views and opinions of the people posting them and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of us.
By Derek Baron Davis
Lock On: Modern Air Combat
Q. Why has the game been called Lock On: Modern Air Combat?
A. Rather than being focused on a single plane, Lock-On allows players to fly a variety of combat aircraft. Hence, it would be inappropriate to name the title after a single aircraft. Additionally, we wanted a name that would convey the subject matter of the game to a customer not versed in combat aviation. As such, we needed a name that was broad in scope, easy to remember, and meaningful to the average consumer. While hardcore consumers may feel this name is more appropriate to an arcade title, we believe that this title will appeal to the broadest possible market. Lock On began as an outgrowth of Flanker 2.5 by Eagle Dynamics. Three of the flyable aircraft from this title were the Su-27 Flanker B, the Su-33 Flanker D, and the MiG-29K Fulcrum. Given the work already accomplished for these aircraft, it was a logical choice to bring the Su-27 and Su-33 over to Lock On. Initially, what is now called Lock On was once termed Flanker Attack. This product was to add a dedicated Russian ground attack aircraft in the form of the Frogfoot. With the demise of other A-10A simulations and the strong desire in the flight simulation community to fly the Hog, we felt it was a great opportunity to take advantage of. To round out the mix of US and Russian aircraft, and to provide a counterpart to the Su-27, we decided to add the air superiority, not a pound for air-to-ground, F-15C Eagle. Finally, we added three versions of the MiG-29 Fulcrum (German MiG-29A and Russian MiG-29A and C).
Heir to the throne!
Before we take a look at what is probably the most anticipated combat flight sim release of recent years, here is a little background history to this sim. 26
Lock-On was always going to be an ambitious project. Being next in line to the Flanker dynasty, it had a lot to live up to! So although the brief historical outline given above illustrates its initial conception, this offspring has grown up to take on a character all of its own. So whats the best way to describe this new addition to the flight sim family? I suppose that Lock-On can best be described as a mini-survey sim (offering a selection of aircraft), with the qualities, aspirations and attention to detail of a study sim. In fact Matt Wagner, Producer of LockOn goes on to state that, One of Lock-Ons primary goals is to create an authentic and realistic combat environment. Key to this is recreating the jets as accurately as we can. Lock-On is not a survey simulation that will include many aircraft with a low fidelity of modelling. Rather, we want to concentrate on a select number or aircraft and model their distinct qualities as accurately as we can. Computer Pilot Magazine V8I2
However, as we have seen with past simulations, it is one thing to aspire to a goal, but its another when it comes to achieving that aim! So lets see whether Eagle Dynamics have managed to maintain a lock on their target or whether their efforts have been spoofed!
A quick guide to LOMAC
Before we can examine the pros and cons of Lock On: Modern Air Combat (LOMAC), it will be helpful to first get a brief overview of the design and content of this simulation. Aircraft: First we have eight aircraft. U.S. aircraft include - the A-10A Thunderbolt II and the F-15C Eagle; Germany is represented by the Mig-29A Fulcrum-A; while Russia is represented by the Su-25 Frogfoot, Su-27 Flanker-B, Su-33 Flanker-D, Mig-29A Fulcrum-A and the Mig 29S Fulcrum-C. Region of conflict: The Black Sea region, which includes the Crimean Peninsula and the western caucuses - the setting for a hypothetical conflict. Single-player missions: A variety of single missions are presented or can be created, using the in-built mission planners. Campaigns: Four scripted campaigns are included, in which you can fly for either the U.S. or Russia. Apparently, the team ran out of time to fully realize a dynamic campaign. However, Lock-On includes a persistent world in which damage to objects and buildings in one mission will carry over to the next. Graphic detail: Of all the features included in this package, probably the most anticipated element is the graphics engine. Lock-On comes with a high standard of detail throughout. Dynamic lighting, more than 180,000 buildings, 50,000,000 tress, 21 cities, 1,700 towns and villages, 500 bridges, 18 airfields and 8 naval bases. Audio features and communications: Lock-On provides the player the ability to communicate with wingmen, AWACS, refuelling tankers, Tower and approach controllers. Multiplayer features: You can fly with up to 32 players over a LAN, or a minimum of 6 players over the Internet.
Now well turn our attention to the packaging, installation and presentation of Lock-On. Let me say right off the bat that on opening the case containing the single CD, I was initially disappointed. This disappointment stemmed from the realization that the manual accompanying the game consisted of only 56 pages. The current convention of packaging gaming software in small cases means that we are no longer provided with beautifully designed booklets, such as those provided by the Janes series of simulations. On pages 49 and 50 of this booklet is an inadequate keyboard command, with the type size being unhelpfully small. Fortunately there is a printable 135 page manual, saved as a PDF, on the CD. This admittedly is more of what Im used to when it comes to a simulation of this complexity and sophistication. To be fair, the printed manual is designed to get you up and running quickly, with the pdf manual providing the greater depth. In spite of this approach, I still feel that the keyboard card is inadequate and while the PDF version is more detailed, I found it hard going because of the layout, the relatively small typeface, the narrow line spacing of the text and the lo-res images. Thankfully the shortcomings of this part of the package have been recognized and alternatives have been offered via the Lock-On website: http://www.lo-mac.com/ (or check the January issue Cover CD). Here you will be able to download a highres Reference Manual and Keycards. In addition, you will also find details of an enhanced manual and game guide that has been produced by a third-party company - Digital Aspirin. Digital Aspirin are producing leather type triple fold ring binder with over 300 pages of information for the Lock On: Modern Air Combat fan. In addition to the 136 page full color manual that will be shipped with the game, the paper manual will also contain a 70-page additional training section, plus 120 pages of technical data concerning each of the air, ground and naval units in the game. On top of these a section will be created with quick reference in mind, such as a key reference guide, landing/take-off and engagement checklists and mission planning sheets. The manual is A5 in size and will contain: A debossed logo on the front, a CD Sleeve in the back to store the LOMAC CD, plus a magnetic enclosure. Each manual is numbered and a few will be signed by the development team.
Lock and Load! - Installation and Main Menu
Installation comes on one disk and was uneventful. Once installed, Lock-On takes up 1.24 GB of hard disk space. Load time to main menu seems a little longer than other sims, particularly with the absence of a progress bar. However, this may be dependent on the specification of your machine. While were on the subject, the machine on which Lock-On was initially tested was as follows:
Processor - Athlon XP 1800 1.53 Mhz RAM - 512 MB Video card - Geforce FX 5600 with 128 MB RAM Soundcard - Soundblaster Live Value! DirectX 9.0b Joystick/Throttle - CH Force FX and CH Pro Throttle Windows XP (Home Edition) However, halfway through this appraisal, I upgraded the RAM and the graphics card, which resulted in a marked improvement in the sims performance, more on this later. Having installed and launched the program, you are presented with a clean but functional menu display that takes its design cues from the multi-function displays and push-buttons of the cockpits of the modelled aircraft. This screen is split into two sections. The left half of this screen has 10 different sections that give you access to the various parts of the sim. From the top we have: Show Replays, Training, Open Mission, Mission Editor, Network Play, Campaign, Fast Battle Planner, Options, Encyclopedia and Pilot Log book. On the right hand side of the menu screen are displayed six screen shots of the flyable aircraft. This section is essentially an Instant Action module that allows you to jump straight into the cockpit of your chosen mount. Serving as an audio backdrop, one can hear radio communications between pilots, ATC and weapons officers, which seem to be taken from actual missions.
Of the 10 sections, the first place you should pay a visit to is the Options section. This area allows you to configure the look, sound, feel and difficulty levels of LockOn. The options section is split into five areas; Input, Audio, Difficulty, Graphics and Cockpit. Lets take a closer look at a few of these areas in more detail. In terms of graphics, this simulation is resource hungry, so do not expect to run this sim at maximum detail without incurring a noticeable performance hit. Even those 27
with high-end machines will have to turn down some of the detail under certain circumstances, however, credit should be given to the developers for building in scalability as well as flexibility into the design. In graphic terms, it would be fair to say that Lock-On is by and large stateof-the-art. As with other sims, Lock-On automatically configures the settings and balances quality with speed, to suit your particular computer set-up. I would suggest you try the default settings set by the software first and see how the sim performs under various conditions. Then, if necessary tweak one item at a time.
After configuring the sim, the next question is which section should you start with first? Well, Lock-On is scalable and can be played in a variety of ways; the aim being to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. This means that because of the level of difficulty and the amount of time you will have to invest in this sim, it is probably best described as an intermediate to hardcore level product, depending on which difficulty level you are playing it on at the time. So, if you have read my Combat Simulation article in Volume 7 Issue 10, this is a level 2/3 simulation.
Fast Battle Planner
Here are Lock-Ons default settings on the review machine:
Textures=High Scenes=Medium Terr PRLD=50 km Civ Traff=No Water=Medium Haze=Advanced Lights=All Visib Range=Medium Effects=High Heat BLR=Off Shadows=All Planar Color=32 Bit Resolution=1024x768.
These settings illustrate the scalability and complexity of the graphics engine. So for example, Textures allows you to specify the overall texture quality for cockpit objects and terrain, while Scenes allows you to control the level of land objects. In fact, the underlying theme of Lock-On is one of giving the consumer choice rather than making the choice for them. Equally important is the Input section. Here you can assign key commands and configure your peripherals. This area is detailed, intuitive and well thought-out. Within this section is a welcomed feature that gives you the ability to control the degree of the response of your joystick, rudder or throttle. Difficulty levels are also scalable from Novice to Experienced. So you can tailor the sim to suit your own level of expertise. Difficulty levels affect your aircraft, the A.I. and the views. Padlock, G-effects and flight modelling are just three examples of features that can be customized in the difficulty section. Cockpit aids give you a choice of having the HUD in Russian, mirror reflections and altering the angle of you forward view. Much time should be spent in the options section so you can tailor Lock-On to suit your own personal taste and expertise. 28
Although you will likely not be able to resist firing up the Instant Action section and jumping into one of the aircraft on offer, you will soon become frustrated, because of lack of knowledge in operating the various radar and weapon systems unless you are a seasoned veteran already! So I would suggest that the Training section should be your first port of call. This section uses text overlay instruction combined with pre-recorded footage using the sims own graphics engine. This is basically the same method as that used in IL-2 Sturmovik. The training module begins with an Undergraduate Pilot Training course. This covers basic flying maneuvers, along with take-off, landing and navigation. The training course is split into a further five sections; four give tutorials on all the included aircraft (except for the Mig 29) and one, called Advanced training, gives instruction on Basic Fighter Maneuvers (or BFM). The tutorials are well-presented and cover the handling and the operation of the radar and weapons systems for each aircraft. In addition, an added bonus is that you can take over the controls at any point during the proceedings. However, the one criticism I would have of presenting instruction as a text overlay rather than an audio presentation, is that it is often difficult to read what is written while trying to keep up with what is being done on screen. Thankfully the tutorials can be paused at any point, which helps you to learn at your own pace; yet some may still find the text overlays a little frustrating. In terms of training, mainly because of the relative complexity of Lock-Ons aircraft cockpit systems, its best to learn about one aircraft at a time until you become confident in flying and operating its various controls and weapon systems. Any other route will lead to frustration. In fact, of all the aircraft in Lock-Ons inventory, the A-10A Tank Buster is the ideal aircraft to cut your teeth on. Its cockpit, though highly detailed, demands less pilot input in comparison to the other aircraft in the sim. In addition, it takes a lot of damage and of all of the aircraft, it is the easiest to land. We will look at the aircraft in more detail later in this piece.
An ideal place to hone your skills and get to know this combat sim in more detail is in the Fast Battle Planner. Designed to look like a multi-function display, the Planner provides a quick and intuitive way to create a mission; giving you command over a wide range of parameters. The permutations are endless. Not only can you specify the type, skill, and number of aircraft flown in your scenario, you can also dictate altitude of friendly and enemy aircraft, separation distances, the intercept angle between you and the enemy and also the time and season as well as controlling the level of authenticity. The Planner is well designed and will satisfy those who have not the time or patience to go through a whole campaign. Of all the various ways of playing Lock-On that are on offer, this more than any module seems to sum up the underlying concept behind this sim. That is, although it may be complex, it is designed to be explored and tinkered and experimented with. With many hardcore sims of the past such as Rowans Battle of Britain and Falcon 4.0, the core of the product tended to be the campaign. With Lock-On the opposite is the case. There is further evidence to back up this assertion in the form of the next module we will examine, which is the Mission Editor.
The manual describes the Mission Editor as the heart and soul of Lock-On, and for good reason. In simple terms, the Editor allows you to create and micro-manage single missions or whole campaigns. It is a detailed and powerful design tool and very intuitive to use. You can start with a blank canvas and literally work from the ground up and create missions or campaigns as simple or as complex as you wish. You have control over every single object and aspect of your created mission. In addition, an important aspect of the Editor is the way in which it is designed to directly interact with all the other modules within the simulator, such as the Fast Battle Planner and the Encyclopedia. Here is an outline of some of the features included in the Editor Within the Editor itself you have control over the season and prevailing weather. For example you can choose the nature of the cloud cover along with its base height, thickness, and density. Wind speed (at various heights) and direction, turbulence, visibility and fog are other atmospheric elements that can also be factored in. You can choose the nationalities and consequently the equipment of the participating coalitions. Computer Pilot Magazine V8I2
Lock-On patch details (as of writing)
Hi everyone, Eagle is hard at work on the patch and we hope to release it just as soon as we can. Im sorry, but I just cant give you an actual date at this time. Believe me when I say that Ubisoft and Eagle want to finish the first patch even more than you do. Overall, the patch is looking very good and I think that most of you will be very happy. There are just a couple more areas that I am asking Eagle to address before we release the patch though: force feedback centring and having MP clients get air defence search and lock warnings. Once we can get those two items wrapped up, we should be good to go (knock on wood). That is not to say that there wont still be bugs in the game, there will. Thats why Ubisoft and Eagle will continue to support this product and there will be future patches. One other note regarding the patch: because several changes have been made to the flight dynamics, AI, and weapon systems, many of the training missions no longer play back correctly. Given that fixing these missions would cost us at least another week, we are going to release the patch with a notification that patching will break some of these missions. However, we are working with Shepski to provide a drop-in folder that will fix all training--after the patch is out. Lock-On 1.01 Patch 18 December 2003 NyMax (maximum G) has been increased up to 9g for Su-27, Su-33 and Mig-29. New MiG-29S CAP payloads have been added. AGM-65D and AGM-65K now indicate correct seeker type in payload screen. Maximum range of AIM-120C and R-77 was increased to 50 km. Reduced the effect of radar range reduction when flying at low altitudes. Corrected engagement range of S-300PS (SA-10) and Patriot. AI will now engage with follow-on missile(s) if first has missed. Corrected TrackIR centering problem. Corrected probability of failures option. It is not always set to 0%. Skill is defaulted to Player when a flyable aircraft is selected. Game no longer crashes is player presses F3 while the game is paused at the start of a mission. Fuel Low indication is correct now for the A-10A. The visibility range of Goal targets has been increased. Added advanced check of connections in the LAN Game. Renamed mi to nm in labels. Adjusted maximum radar range of some aircraft. Set 150 shells for Mig-29 gun. The wind direction dial now shows correct direction. The R-27EM now has a semi-active radar seeker instead of an active radar seeker. Chaff now works against semi-active seeker missiles. Decreased effectiveness of chaff and flares against active and IR guided missiles. Fixed crash game in Dinput8.dll on the Exit. Fixed instability bug when saving stage of campaign. Removed Category column from Debrief Event Log. Players can now record voice-overs for Tracks. Fixed several bugs for Win98/ME (white screen, low memory etc.) Limited helicopter numbers from 1 10. Fixed algorithm of finding course of routes in mission editor. Fixed award white spaces in the Logbook for countries with less then 8 awards (e.g. Spain). You need to remove existing pilot, sorry. Corrected wind-related flight effects for player and AI aircraft. Corrected engine behavior after aerial refuelling. Corrected zero thrust phenomena in A-10 when flying at M>0.8. Expanded range of R-60 in rear hemisphere. Increased engine impulse for MICA missiles. Values RCS for some planes and helicopters are adjusted. Decreased maximum G for F-15C at low speed. Corrected collisions for Mirage-2000 and, KAMAZ. BANO, afterburner and other effects will not cast shadows now. Cockpit camera speed control commands are functional (Ctrl+Left Shift, Alt+Left Shift, Right Shift+Left Shift). Corresponding speed values in the Config\View\View.cfg are functional too. Labels are much more configurable now (Config/View/View.cfg). ECM was removed from MiG-25PS. The F-117 has no chaffs or flares now. Incorrect route saving from state restoring is fixed both for Human and AI. AWACS-View is now working in saved state games. Corrected keyboard-only pitch control. Disabled automatic return to the neutral position. Disabled mouse speed scaling for TrackIR. Host can now respawn in multiplayer. Missile and gun accuracy is greatly increased in multiplayer. New text messages are now automatically shown at the top of the screen in multiplayer. nForce2 lag problems have been significantly reduced.
Corrections List: Track to AVI tool is now working correctly. Corrected sound and input program header files. This has increased the efficiency of sound files. AI aircraft now only report Radar On/Off or ECM On/Off if it really has radar or ECM. Localized Unknown Error message. Corrected damage model for Su-33. Corrected target loss problems for some air defence complexes. Will not crash now if save state is created with an AWACS in the mission. Player can now not view Hide lists for a mission that has been classified. Player can now change payload of his or her aircraft in campaigns and classified single missions. After exiting a training mission, the player now returns to the training mission selection screen. External fuel tanks now add weight to the aircraft. Corrected flight behavior of A-10 and Su-25 at low speed and AoA > 30. Removed first delay in A-10 bomb dropping when ripple interval > 1. Corrected jumps of general visibility in Meteo selection. AI will now go out to less range (8 km) when re-engaging a target with bombs/CBUs. AI will now pop up to 500 m when attacking with gun or rockets. MiG-23 and MiG-27 will not destroy themselves when attacking with gun or rocket. Corrected A-10A pitch ladder so that it will not climb as the aircraft rolls. Reduced radar look-down range reduction for F-15C. Removed A-10A TVV on HUD when it is inside CCIP or gun/rocket pipper. Removed F-15C bank and steering indicator on HUD when A2A mode. Increased padlock field of view angles. Corrected the lack of green radar zone triangle on Russian HDDs when an AWACS is in the mission. Adjusted the aircraft reaction to small rudder inputs. S-3A and S-3R now will fold their wings during taxiing. Player can now switch between cockpits of flyable aircraft (Alt-j).
Matt Wags Wagner Producer / Ubisoft
Computer Pilot Magazine V8I2 The Su-25
The awesome Su27
The lines of the F-15 have been faithfully captured
This shot shows off the Su-33s distinctive arrow head shape
The Mig-29 is well respected by friend and foe alike
The Su-25 is a robust and forgiving aircraft to fly
VARIOUS OPTION MENU SCREENS
The Training suite
The Fast Battle Planner
Computer Pilot Magazine V8I2
Various views of the A-10 cockpit
Examples of the many types of land vehicles populating the Lock-On world
The Encyclopedia is a useful resource
The Pilot Log
There are four campaigns, one for each of the following aircraft: the A-10, F-15, Su-25 or Su-27.
Trees are in abundance in Lock-On
The zoom view is an essential feature in Lock-On
An example of Lock-Ons lighting effects
An A-10A shows off its new flares!
Smoking! The A-10s cannon in action
The terrain is a target-rich environment
An example of the of civilian traffic that exists in this sim
There are many non-flyable support aircraft, such as this Panavia Tornado
This shot illustrates the damaged canopy of an A-10
This shot illustrates the detail on the buildings
An F-15 flies over the glistening water
A Mig-29 climbs into an overcast sky
A shot of a low-flying Mig-29. Note the cranes in the background
Now, I stated earlier that I initially tested on the system above, because while evaluating Lock-On, I upgraded two components of my system. First, I added a further 512 MB of RAM to bring the total to 1GB and then I replaced my Geforce FX 5600 video card with an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro. The detail contained within the sim means that Lock-On uses a lot of resources, particularly when it comes to RAM and video processing power. These changes made a big difference to the performance and hence my enjoyment of the sim. Lock-Ons box says that it runs on 256 MB, but recommends 512 MB of RAM. In fact I would recommend 1GB to run this sim! Lock-On uses a lot of memory, so combined with a memory-hungry operating system, there is very little room to maneuver. Upgrading from 512 to 1GB RAM reduced the occasional stuttering, resulting in smoother frame rates. The increase in RAM also reduced the load times between screens and the flight engine itself. Upgrading the graphics card to an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro made the most dramatic difference. I must say I was presently surprised at the marked difference in frame rates between the 5600 and the 9800. Smoother, faster and more stable/consistent frame rates makes for a happy flight simmer!
Frame Rate comparison:
As I stated earlier, I upgraded the RAM and then the graphics card and completed a before and after comparative frame rate test. These were the results: Geforce FX MB RAM (Mid-range card): Plan View=12-17fps Rear View=15-18fps Cockpit View=10-12fps Sky View=45-60fps 3D marks in 3dMark03: 2442 ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (High-end card). Plan View=76-83 Rear View=48-52 Cockpit View=34-40 Sky View=84-92 3D marks in 3dMark03: 5120
You have control over the details of the Air Group planning, such as the waypoints, payload and targets as well as the placement of targets and other static and mobile objects. In addition to this, you can also dictate the routes, speeds and altitudes (where applicable), of all these entities. The Mission Editor even provides the facility to factor in various systems failures, making for a more challenging experience! Your task in choosing the numerous land, air and sea objects is made much easier by the provision of an interactive encyclopedia that provides in-game images and descriptions of every military hardware contained within the sim. Split into seven sections, you can choose from aircraft, helicopters, ships, numerous land vehicles, anti-aircraft and mobile radar equipment and aircraft ordnance. Such is the depth and detail of the Mission Editor that I would not be surprised if owners of Lock-On spend most of their time in this part of the sim.
Windows 98 issues:
I have a dual-boot system, with Windows XP running on one drive and Windows 98SE on another. When I tried to run Lock-On under Windows 98, I could not get past the main Menu screen; often it would crash to the desktop. This is a known issue and it is hoped the first patch will resolve this problem. This symptom seems to be only an issue with the full game and not with the previously-released Demo. However, there is a solution that seems to work for many people. In order to run Lock-On under 98 you have to first run the Demo. Then after exiting the Demo, you will be able to successfully run the full game! The Demo seems to load files that allow the full game to run. I also decided to compare how the two systems handled Lock-On. Comparative frame rate tests revealed that overall, Lock-On frame rates were much lower under the Windows 98 system than those under Windows XP. For example, the frame rates in the cockpit view under 98 averaged around 20fps, whereas when running Lock-On underXP, rates were between 34-40. From this it would seem that Lock-On has been optimized to run under Windows XP rather than Windows 98.
While it would be fair to say that, in terms of gameplay, the Mission Editor is Lock-Ons forte, it does still include a hand-crafted semi-scripted campaign. Even though the developers original intention was to create a fully-dynamic campaign, it was decided to go down the scripted route in order to ensure that Lock-On shipped on time. In this case semi-scripted means that while the initial set-up of each mission has been scripted, the world in which you fly will have random elements and events, and will be persistent. Persistent means that damage to objects and buildings in one mission will carry over to the next. On-going debate still ensues on the form campaigns should ideally take, i.e., scripted, semi-scripted, or completely dynamic, and Lock-On may be criticized for opting to take this particular route. However, one school of thought is that semi-scripted campaigns, when designed well, enable the designer to maximize the gameplay balance and so can be more fun and exciting than their often sterile and repetitive counterparts.
Lock-On provides an element of roleplaying and an added incentive to come back for more. This is in the form of a Pilots Log Book. This allows you to create and track your pilot persona. As time goes by, a picture will build up showing in detail a history of your ups and downs! You also have the opportunity to receive promotion and medals. In terms of the logged statistics, you will be able to track: the number of missions flown, total flight hours, number of successful runway and carrier landings,
the number of successful aerial refuelings and the number of ejections and landings. One other feature worth noting is the ability to record, watch and re-fly missions at any point in the proceedings. quality rendition. Even at an average screen resolution of 1024x768, with 2-4x antialiasing enabled to remove the jaggies the aircraft look photorealistic. To give you an idea of the amount of work that has gone into producing each aircraft, the average polygon count for each one is around 2000. If you look closely at the undercarriage of any of the aircraft, you will see subtle details of operating actuating arms; detail on the inside of the undercarriage doors. Battle damage also receives the Lock-On treatment, with localized damage and even bullet holes being authentically rendered. Fire is perhaps a little too Hollywood close-up, but it does add to the atmosphere. If your canopy gets hit, you will see holes and cracks running along it. The only element to rival the aircraft is the landscape. Much of my time was spent just flying around sight-seeing. Tones and colors are convincing and well restrained. The towns and cities look like towns and cities! If you enable civilian traffic the added activity brings the virtual world alive, and unlike other sims, you do not feel like you are living in a ghost town. Its the little things that count, like the power masts and lines, the smoking chimney stacks, the literally millions of trees, the varied styles and sizes of houses, buildings and town offices, the finely detailed railway lines and carriages and I almost forgot, the best rendering of water yet seen in a simulation! Coupled with subtle lighting effects, particularly at dawn and dusk, we have a virtual world that you would be happy just to fly around in. concerns, so it will be interesting to see if this is addressed in the first patch. These aircraft are fairly straightforward to fly, but to fly them well will take practice.
Of all the included features of Lock-On, the one element that has probably been spoken about the most is the graphics engine. It would be fair to say that in this respect, Lock-On is state-of-the-art. Perhaps the over-used phrase, attention to detail couldnt be more appropriate than in this particular case. Lets start off with the cockpit rendering. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the level of detail exhibited in the cockpit area of a flight sim generally sets the tone for the rest of the simulation. That rule particularly applies to LockOn. The quality of the 3D cockpit detail is simply stunning! Such fidelity helps to draw you into the simulated world. There is so much detail in this area that there is not enough space to detail all of them, however, a notable feature includes a zoom function allowing you to move closer or further away from any particular part of the cockpit. This is useful when on bombing runs or when operating a particular MFD. In addition, there is the jaw-dropping crazing on the Perspex canopies if the sunlight hits it at a certain angle! All these features combine in the suspension of disbelief. One thing that should be pointed out however, is that Lock-On does not possess clickable cockpits. The trade-off to having a zoom feature, which was seen as an essential design component to the cockpits, was that it would not be possible to have a clickable cockpit. Some may be disappointed with not being able to press all those buttons, although, such a design decision will also make the sim a little easier to play and appeal to a wider audience. A by-product of this level of fidelity, with all this sumptuous detail, is an increase in the virtual pilots workload, particularly in a fast-moving jet. Frustration sets in early until you get used to using the controls. Thats why its so important to practice the tutorials and initially concentrate on only one aircraft. Operating the various MFDs, radar systems and designating targets can prove particularly fiddly. Mentally breaking down each operation into a series of key command sequences simplifies things a great deal. In fact Lock-On will demand careful study and patience, particularly when it comes to using the avionics of each aircraft. Switching our attention to the exterior details we find the same level of high
Communication, A.I. and sound
The Lock-On flying experience
It would be fair to say that to many, all the features outlined above would be tarnished if Lock-Ons flight modelling received less than equal attention. After all, at full difficulty, Lock-On is perceived as a hardcore sim. Fortunately, the general flight modelling of each aircraft feels pretty solid and needs to be flown with respect. Not having flown any of these aircraft in the real world, I cannot vouch for their absolute authenticity, however, what I can say is that some aircraft are easier to fly than others. Carrier landings take some practice! Pull too many Gs and you will be warned about reaching your maximum angle of attack and landing is easier to do in a more forgiving aircraft like the A-10 Warthog than the Su27. Some aircraft like the Mig-29 need to be trimmed quite frequently to maintain level. However, on some occasions, aircraft like the A-10 would exhibit pitch oscillations, which seemed a little odd. So Im unsure as to whether this is normal or a bug. Others on various forums have expressed similar
Lock-Ons communication set-up is fairly comprehensive, allowing you to communicate with your Wingman, other Flights, Tower and AWACS. So for example, you can give your wingman formation and tactical instructions, you can ask AWACS for vectors to bandits, tankers and Home Plate and you can request Tower for vectors and take-off and landing instructions. Personally, I find this set-up fairly complete. When it comes to the A.I., friendly and enemy entities perform intelligently, with no obvious issues being apparent. Although on one occasion my wingman became repetitively irritating when I refused to heed his calls to watch my six! Sound reproduction is satisfying, the highlight of which for me is the sound of the A-10s whistling General Electric TF34GE100 turbofan engine on fly-by! Coming a close second is again the A-10s General Electric GAU-8/A 30mm rotary cannon complete with accompanying smoke. In reallife, the cannon is so powerful that when fired, the forward flying speed of the aircraft is reduced. As a testament to Lock-Ons fidelity, while sitting on the runway in an A-10A I decided to fire the cannon and was surprised to see the aircraft move backwards in response to the recoil. However, on the downside, I have experienced intermittent sound problems in the form of what can be best described as static. I have since discovered that others have experienced similar symptoms. It is not part of the software, but in my particular case it seems to occur if my system memory resources are getting a little low.
So, was Lock-On worth the wait? Personally, I would have to say yes. Lock-On is not perfect; the manual is disappointing and discussions on internet forums have revealed some frustrating problems, however, with the release of the first patch imminent (at time of writing), it should go some way to resolve some of these prevailing issues. This reviewer experienced little that spoilt the overall enjoyment of the sim. True, LockOn will push your hardware to its limits and even the highest spec machines will not be able to run it with all bells and whistles on without struggling, but keep in mind that Lock-On does not have to be run at high resolution to look good. Lock-On is a musthave simulation. It looks good, sounds good and simulates great! Recommended. Q
Take to the virtual skies for a realistic simulation of flight and combat in one of many modern U.S. and Russian fighter craft. Developed under the working title "Flanker: Attack," this combat flight sim from the producers of 1999's acclaimed Flanker 2.0: Combat Flight Simulator offers virtual pilots the chance to climb into the cockpit of the F-15C Eagle, the MiG-29k, the A-10 Warthog, the Su-27 Flanker, or one of several other real-life marvels of late 20th-century aviation. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide
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