Review: Falcon 4.0: Allied Force - Part
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Once you enter the challenge rating
you are then asked to further tailor your campaign by the
next three selection screens. You can either manually adjust
the settings for the following three menus, or you can leave
them the way they are and allow "Headquarters" to
manage the war for you. The first is the PRIORITIES menu which
sets the focus of the air campaign. Do you want to go after
enemy airfields and air defenses first or would you rather
rely on heavy attrition in the air? Do you want to starve
the enemy and run them out of fuel or go after their civilian
centers of government? By manipulating this slider you set
the course of your campaign but be aware that concentrating
too much on one segment can leave you vulnerable in other
areas, so choose wisely!
The next tab is the MISSION TYPE selection
menu. Here you can manually skew the ATO (Air Tasking Order)
so that the campaign generates missions that you would like
to fly. If you want to attack SAM and AAA sites, slide the
Sam Suppression slider all the way to the right and move the
other sliders to the left. Once again, you can choose to be
too specific and the enemy will take advantage of weaknesses
in other areas. Again, you can choose to leave these sliders
alone and let HQ manage the war for you.
The last menu is the PRIORITIES menu.
From here, you can select the geographic region you wish to
specifically attack. If you want to soften up a particular
region you can highlight it and set the activity bar from
low to high while backing off the pressure in other regions.
This can be useful when the enemy makes a concentrated offensive
or when you wish to breakthrough a particularly troublesome
area. If you would rather just be a fighter pilot and not
manage the war, you can choose to let HQ manage the PAK selections
for you. All three of these settings can be changed at anytime
during the course of a campaign, so there is no need to worry
if you change your mind later.
The new Balkan area map is certainly
a big change from Korea. Ethnic lines and country borders
are much more intermingled than the simple conflict of North
Korea vs. South Korea. I won't go into extreme detail since
you will all be enjoying this sim by the time you read this
anyway, but generally this is a NATO vs. Serbia scenario in
which NATO is trying to contain the Serbs and prevent them
from expanding into their neighboring countries. The bulk
of the NATO missions will be flown from airbases in Italy
although there are some limited operations from Albania located
on the southern flank of Serbia.
It would be worth your time to open
up the Order of Battle menu from the bottom selection buttons
and peruse the equipment and bases you will be aligned with
and fighting against. I can sympathize now with the dilemma
that faces all international peace-keepers when they are thrown
into the midst of what amounts to a regional civil war. Determining
friend from foe and keeping the sides straight is a battle
unto itself. Practice will breed familiarity though and soon
you will be recognizing the equipment and flags and associating
them with the proper allegiances.
Now all you have to do is choose a
base to fly out of and the war kicks off. You may change bases
at any time during the campaign to join another squadron (as
long as they are flying F-16s!) so don't fret over becoming
stuck at any single place. As soon as the war starts, the
campaign engine begins generating the blueprint for how the
air war will be conducted. This blueprint is known as the
"frag" or more technically, the "Air Tasking
Order" (ATO). The ATO lists every allied air unit plan
and movement in the theater. To give you an idea of how vast
the ATO is in F4:AF, within minutes of the war kicking off,
the campaign engine generated 63 missions for the first 2
hours of the war. You can examine the total ATO at any time
and here I've selected all 63 missions to be displayed on
the theater map to give you an idea of the amount of activity
that will be over the battlefield (NATO only!).
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