Jane’s F-15 Eagle, Austin, Texas, $49.95.
Jane’s does it again, this time with the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Eagle in its sights. Jane’s F-15 Eagle is a simulation of the “mud hen” that performed admirably in Operation Desert Storm and caters heavily to the demanding realist. The graphics are very good, though not cutting edge, and flight modeling is on par with the best PC simulations. Training sorties, a campaign during Operation Desert Storm and a hypothetical campaign based on a conflict with Iran in 2002 provide plenty of action. The product includes optional provisions such as a simple flight model and invincibility setting, but to use those options is akin to buying a big house and living in only one room of it. If radar modes and surface-to-air-missile evasion get your blood pumping, don’t miss this one. Requires a Pentium 166, 16 MB RAM, 75 MB hard drive space, 4x CD-ROM and Windows 95.
Another new product from Jane’s is Jane’s Israeli Air Force ($49.95). Historical information in the documentation and the 50th-anniversary multimedia CD-ROM, included in the package, help introduce the famed IAF to users via interviews, maps and pictures. The simulation puts users in the cockpits of seven modern IAF fighters, including oldies like the French Mirage III and elegant newcomers like the Lavi ATF. Players who have long awaited a chance to fly the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II will be happy to find the venerable warrior available, though they may quickly come to appreciate the superior handling of the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The visual presentation comes mixed, with nicely painted aircraft flying against a backdrop of blurry terrain. Faster computers (Pentium II 233 or better) can sharpen the graphics, but the higher system requirements seem contrary to the casual market that Jane’s IAF targets. Virtual pilots will have to learn to fly like the Israelis, using mountains and terrain to mask them from anti-air defenses, and to master both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.
The simulation suffers from a few minor bugs and has a flight model with relaxed stall characteristics and simplified avionics, but these should not concern the average user looking to have fun while learning a little history. In addition to solitaire missions, Jane’s IAF supports online gaming for additional play. Requires a Pentium 200 MMX, 32 MB RAM, 251 MB hard drive space, 8x CD-ROM, and Windows 95 or Windows 98.