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Game Over Online ~ Mig-29 Fulcrum

GameOver Game Reviews - Mig-29 Fulcrum (c) Novalogic, Reviewed by - Pseudo Nim

Game & Publisher Mig-29 Fulcrum (c) Novalogic
System Requirements P166, 16MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 88%
Date Published Monday, September 14th, 1998 at 10:04 AM

Divider Left By: Pseudo Nim Divider Right

Another day, another flightsim. I think I've repeated this phrase numerous times in the past month or two, and I don't know if it's a good thing - though I suppose if they're good flightsims, then it's okay. This time the subject is an all-new sim from Novalogic, but there's something that sets it apart from the flock. That 'something' is the plane that you fly - it's not the usual F-xx [of which there's been an abundance recently] - but it's a honest-to-goodness Russian plane, the MiG-29 Fulcrum. To my knowledge, there's never been a MiG-29 sim to date yet, and not many Russian planes have been simulated, anyhow - only the Su-27 Flanker comes to mind. Too bad MiG-29 is somewhat less of a sim than Su-27 was - this is more of a game. But to the point.

Firstly, and primarily, I have to complain about the realism in Mig-29. It's not the worst mix of arcadish action/simulation that I've seen, but it's by no means a true sim. The fact that it was co-released with F-16: Multirole Fighter perhaps meant less time has been spent developing the physics and the avionics, as well. Or then again, F22 Lightning II wasn't much of a sim either - just pretty graphics, and some relatively fun gameplay. Wasn't the last true sim by Novalogic Comanche? Feels like it.

The graphics are really nice, that much is a given - but so goes the history of Novalogic, that graphics take precedence over realism. 3D acceleration is supported, and nice texturing, shading and lighting goes along with that. The plane cockpit is very nicely detailed, and every numpad key actually zooms in on the corresponding section of the instrument panel, and, what's neat is that as the view zooms in, all instruments continue functioning, which gives it a much more realistic feel.

A word (again) about the plane avionics. The MiG-29 is a plane which can easily do Mach 2, more so, 2.3 at altitude. In the game, however, no matter how high or low I flew, the same thing happened: at roughly 1598 to 1625 km/h the plane would start shaking, and if I didn't slow down the shaking would go out of control and the plane would explode. I'm willing to attribute some of that to the fact that I wasn't flying under a light load, however, having tried this under multiple occasions, with varying amounts of weaponry and altitude, the same thing always happened. I would be very interested to find out just what precisely was happening, considering 1625 km/h is about 451 m/s, which is way below Mach 2 --- that's about Mach 1.3, and, in knots, it comes out to about 890 kts, which isn't that fast if you think of it - I've done much higher speeds in other sims, without having the plane explode on me. For that matter, stalling isn't really a factor, either - the plane just sort of slows down but never really loses thrust - I've never had it go out of control for me. I've actually landed at about 150 km/h at some point, while, in theory, I should've long been down on the ground because of lack of lift.

Landings are a bit too easy in the game, I find. So far the most realistic landings, I find, were in Jane's F-15 and F-22 ADF, with the F-22 being even able to do gearless landings [=with gear retracted, or damaged]. Still have to try it on the Mig, but not sure if the game will like it.

Dodging missiles ain't easy. Like, -really- not easy. The onboard computer on the Mig auto-releases chaff and flares, but they don't do that good a job, and things go sort of bad from there on. My favourite tricks didn't work out, as they did in F15 or F22, where I'd fly a few meters off the ground tightly hugging it and hope the missile hits the mountain instead of me - which doesn't really work out too well here. And since I mentioned the ground, why is the stereotype always that Russia is all about snow? About 80% of the missions I flew were over tundra with snow and ice as far as eye could see - that's just wrong.

The enemy AI is slightly disappointing, as well. I found that the first time I flew a mission and failed it for one reason or another, the second time would be trivially easy, since the enemy was precisely at the same place, and, if I got shot down I knew exactly which way they're moving, which way I should come at them and how I could get them.

A word has to be said about the sound effects in the game. There's an option in the menu to turn on Russian dialogue, and the incredible thing is this - the 'Russian' is actual, true Russian and not some backwards-played English track [which, unfortunately, seems all too common in budget sims]. I suppose cooperation of Yuri Prikhodko, a former MiG-29 test pilot and cosmonaut helped in that.

One of the neat features of the Mig-29, at least in real life, is the way enemy fighters are tracked. The onboard computer of the Mig builds a shootlist, and prioritizes the targets based on the danger level. The neat thing is, if a wing of Migs is flying rather than just one, the information will be shared, so no two planes will acquire the same target. Too bad it doesn't work even remotely like that in the game, considering your wingman doesn't even ask you for permission to attack, and you don't even feel him around you, like you do in other sims - and even less so, the shootlist is by no means prioritized. You don't know how bad it feels to have a wing of Su-27s at 30km and a wing of Foxbats at 71km, and have the missile lock on the Foxbats, which is not only a screwed up sorting based on the level of danger, but also range and sheer logic - without even somehow letting you know that you're screwing yourself over by wasting ammo on planes which maybe won't even really close onto you while you have a serious and deadly threat right under your nose. Also, the radar seems to only display missiles that are about 5km from you, giving you ample, truly ample time to react considering the speeds they go at. And you don't even know if someone has a positive lock on you either.

The multiplayer, however, is definitely a blast. Considering F16: Multirole Fighter, Mig29 and F22: Raptor were designed to be played on Novaworld, it's possible to fly all three of the above in the same arenas, which is guaranteed to provide endless (somewhat endless) fun to people. Too bad F22: Raptor plain sucked, and F16 and Mig are just breaking it even in terms of realism.

In resume, Mig-29 is definitely a daring sim, of the kind that hasn't been around much - and it sort of pays off. 'Sort of' because it lacks the realism of Jane's, but has enough, on the other hand, to keep the person playing it from throwing the box out the window. Add some majorly wicked multiplayer to that, and you got a great arcadish flight sim, which is actually even fun to play. Too bad it's so much of a clone of F16: Multirole Fighter. Perhaps, releasing two games of the same type, at the same time is not such a good idea. I wonder why Jane's never did it?


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