Title Mig-29M Superfulcrum Game Type Flight Sim Players 1 Company Domark/Simis Compatibility All (1 Mb) Submission Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer Review Mig-29M Superfulcrum is Domark's follow-up to their successful Mig-29 Fulcrum flight sim which was also programmed by Simis. Later the Domark/Simis partnership was to produce the more controversial AV8B Harrier Assault, but here you are flying (as the title indicates) the enhanced version of the Mig fighter, which is even more agile and deadly than before. It comes with a modern cockpit layout, an advanced fly-by-wire control system, and a greater fuel capacity. In this, the sequel, the plane is easier to control, and while the fairly tough challenge to land the aircraft in the original game is reduced, it is still respectable. Gameplay-wise Mig-29M somewhat resembles the last mission of the original which was really several missions rolled into one, where an advance airbase had to be captured and then used, bringing you into striking range of your final objective; a nuclear reactor. Here though, there are many airbases to capture, many ground targets to destroy, and it's up to you how you go about it. You are part of an international alliance with the mission of defeating a rebel force that has wrested an area of some 20000 square kilometers from a friendly Central South American country. Your enemy is no pushover, he comes eqipped with tanks, Surface to Air Missiles, helicopters, F16 Falcon's and, in the later stages of the game, with Mig-29's. Your objectives are to break the enemy supply lines (destroying bridges and taking out truck convoys), clearing and capturing airbases, destroying strategic installations, like warehouses and factories, and finally taking on the rebel Head Quarters. The methods you employ are your decision. You can take off with one of three weapon loads, either biased to ground attack, air superiority or balanced between the two, and then just fly off and have some fun if you want. Alternatively, you can study the map and the enemy's disposition, and then execute a series of surgical strikes designed to bring him to his knees in the shortest possible time. The game starts with a map screen showing the landscape and giving a clear indication as to the enemy's wherabouts and current strength. Using an easy point-and-click system you can plot in some waypoints, and then click on the plane icon to access the game proper. You can also access a loading, saving and armament screen from the map screen. Once in the cockpit you'll soon appreciate that for a flight sim the game is very easy to play. Taking off is simply a matter of pushing the '+' key for thrust, the 'w' key to take off the wheel brakes and then easing the mouse (if this is your preferred device) gently back when you reach take-off speed. Now its time to hunt down those waypoints and start generating large amounts of violence on your opponents. Ground targets don't usually represent too much of a problem, and you can use your cannon, unguided (point-and-shoot) rockets or the highly effective AS-7 Kerry guided missiles. My favoured control method is with a mouse, but the keyboard, as well as analogue and digital joysticks are also supported, and as misjudging your attack is quite easy you should find the right method for you. The tanks will fire at you but usually this is fairly inaccurate and not too much of a worry. The SAM missiles are a big problem however and obviously you'll need to deal with these as a priority. Regarding the air threat, while single planes can be fairly easily dispatched, things can be very different when two or three decide to spoil your day. If you also have SAMs to contend with then its probably worth reconsidering your approach and beating a hasty retreat. Your countermeasures are fairly effective, but don't expect miracles. Its also nice to see (admittedly in a rather masochistic sense) enemy planes dropping flares and successfully decoying your missiles on occasion. I would rate the dogfighting as pretty good, and happily you can get in close and blast the enemy aircraft to bits with your cannon - there's none of that F/A-18 Interceptor 'chasing dots' routine here. Indeed the planes look rather good and their behaviour (while not presenting a huge challenge in a one-to-one situation) appears to be realistic and exciting. As you progress through the game you will sometimes be hard-pushed to achieve your objectives. For example, you may wish to capture an enemy airbase, littered with tanks, buildings and SAMs. Prepping your plane for a strong Ground Attack capability would seem logical, but when you arrive at the objective you can be overwhelmed by enemy aircraft. My particular solution was to return fitted for Air-to-Air combat and engage the enemy aircraft by such a route that generally only one presented a threat at any one time. After succeeding in this task I was then able to inflict a small but significant amount of damage on the airbase's assets before returning to my base. When I reappeared, in the guise of Dr Ground Stomper, with his trusty Air to Ground capability from hell, I was able to finish off the airbase with not so much as a pigeon to argue with in the skies. What adds to the strategic appeal of the game is that the enemy steadily sends out truck convoys from various warehouses and depots, repairing the damage and replacing the vehicles that you have destroyed. Given that this all takes place on a fairly straightforward road and rail network with bridges for you to destroy, you will be highly motivated to take out just one more target before returning from your mission, thus slowing down the enemy's recovery, and helping you to retain the initiative. This adds something of the appeal found in Carrier Command to the game. Not as much, but it is welcome and transforms the game from what is a competent and approachable flight sim into something rather broader and more immersive. Mig-29M Superfulcrum treads that narrow path between frustration and challenge. Like its predecessor, perhaps like many flight sims, there is a certain coldness and lack of conviction to the game, in that rather than fighting a sentient enemy you sometimes feel like your opponent is just another routine sent to you from Polygon Land. Certainly, the fact that you can see the damage you're inflicting displayed graphically on the map screen appeals to the compulsive-obsessive in us, and encourages you to give it just one more go ....and then another. It proves that your actions are making a difference, and that is a strong inducement for further efforts. This is rather let down though by a feeling that the game lacks polish in certain respects. After destroying the enemy presence at an airbase you can expect your forces to take posession (signified by a blue flag) of the installation. But sometimes this doesn't apppear to happen, and when it does, your heroic ground forces can be driven off by a single tank. As I understand it, there's some fairly clever things happening on the enemy's logistic front regarding supply and repair, but again the manual fails to clarify this strong positive point in the game's design. Despite the alleged improvements in the aircraft's cockpit design, you can no longer determine the state of your aircraft's weapon stores. This can be extremely frustrating and reduces the validity of the game's claims to realism, its general credibility and your own effectiveness as a pilot, in no small way. It just seems like the game was rushed a bit at the end of its development. The manual goes into some detail about the history of the Mig 29 itself, it describes flying and fighting with the aircraft but neglects to give anything but the smallest amount of detail as to the game world itself and how it functions. A rather nice fold-out map is provided, but this is really only a reference to the map provided in the game, which you cannot display while on a mission. The link up option in the game, while extremely welcome, is not without its problems, although its well worth persevering with. For some reason, after you have loaded the game on both machines there is a long delay at the options screen. This can continue for several minutes, but eventually the screen will darken, and then a few vigourous mouse movements and clicks should take both players into the obligatory One player game. Quitting this and returning to the Option screen will restore 'normal' service, and now you can click on the link-up icons, and begin the link-up combat game. Although its a very cut-down landscape, with basically your respective airbases and a range of mountains between them, you'll probably be concentrating too hard on your opponent to worry very much about the lack of ground detail. The frame update is as quick as I've seen on an Amiga 3D link-up game, and the air combat is usually fast and furious. having said that, it is very tricky to defeat a human player, and because missiles are often shaken off with ease, care must be taken not to run out of cannon ammunition. It is however, extremely satisfying to hear your rounds smacking into you opponents aircraft from his monitor's speaker. In my experience once you've successfully entered the Two player game, the link-up is very stable, making it a very worthwhile option. What you have with Mig-29M Superfulcrum then, is a pretty solid game with some elements that lift it still further in my estimation; the non-linear missions, the enemy logistics and a very reasonable link-up option. Unfortunately, this triumph is slightly offset by the small flaws in the product; a less than satisfactory manual that fails to properly explain the game world, the lack of a weapons readout, and that certain lack of personality in the artificial intelligence, although this maybe partly me. Its certainly not bad though, and has providied me with many hours of fun that only sometimes turns to frustration.