Falcon: Operation Firefight (Mission Disk 2)

Title		Falcon: Operation Firefight (Mission Disk 2)
Game Type	Flight Sim
Players		1
Company 	Spectrum Holobyte
Compatibility	All (AGA needs degraders) Requires original game
Submission	Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer

The final visit to Spectrum Holobyte's Falcon flightsim arrived for the Amiga
with Operation Firefight; the second Mission Disk. Like the original and
the earlier Mission Disk, Firefight placed you in the cockpit of the
General Dynamics F16 Fighting Falcon, a plane not only spectacular in its
Air Superiority capability but also extremely effective in Ground Attack;
a true multirole combat aircraft. Like it's predecessors, Operation
Firefight reflects this flexibility in it's mission structure.

The 3D engine, as you might expect from a Mission Disk is very much the
same as the original game, although Martin Kenwright (F-29, Epic, TFX)
present on the earlier Falcon outings is no longer credited here. The same
improvements that came with Counterstrike are also included here, though
making the game that much more of a professional product than the first
release. As for object complexity or improved framerates I can't discern
much difference, suffice to say that while the ground detail isn't
overwhelming, the game runs at an impressive speed on a plain A500.

Although Counterstrike featured plenty of Ground Attack missions,
Firefight feels somehow more ground based to me. I think it's the fact
that it doesn't feature a aircraft capable of posing a serious threat to
the F16. Counterstrike had the luscious MiG 29 Fulcrum fighter you see,
and while there's a variety of air targets available in Firefight; the
MiG 21 fighter, dating from the 1950's, the MiG 27, a Surface Attack
variant of the less than dazzling MiG 23, and the rather attractive Mil Mi
24 Hind helicopter gunship, there's nothing there that you shouldn't be
able to defeat in your Falcon. That doesn't mean the game isn't
challenging though, in some of the missions you'll be strained to breaking
point trying to protect a ground installation from three incoming jets;
highly exciting stuff, and possibly Falcon's finest hour, but as far as
one-on-one Air Combat goes you've got no excuses, okay? In retrospect this
approach is probably a good thing, because while I've always thought
Falcon's real strength against it's competitors lay in it's Air Combat, I
suppose they've covered that ground fairly well, and better here to offer
us some new and different challenges.

Something I do object to though is that if you select the Air Combat
Maneuvers mode, where you follow an enemy aircraft through a selectable
flight maneuver to better hone your combat skills, in Firefight the enemy
you find yourself chasing, at over 300 knots, is none other than the Hind
helicopter Gunship, which seems rather daft, considering the 2 jets that
were available.

There is some new equipment available not previously on show, including
the  AIM-120 missle; a medium range weapon which can prove something of
an equalizer when confronting multiple enemies, an internal ECM system
that no longer means using one of your valuable weapon pylons, and the
AGM-88 (HARM) missile that "rides" down the radar of an enemy Surface to
Air Missile site that is attempting to track you - that'll teach them.

So, where does that leave the game? In my view slightly behind
Counterstrike in the overall greatness stakes, if only because of that
game's inclusion of the MiG 29 and the resulting aerial satisfaction that
it made possible. Firefight's use of the Hind as your ACM sparring partner
was rather silly and to make things worse there is no link-up option
available here. Despite those grievances, Firefight is still a worthy son
of Falcon, and the new challenges available here make it well worth
getting for the flight-sim fan, if not quite an essential purchase.

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