Serious Simming: Falcon Flight Sims Land On GOG

“That’s the problem with games nowadays: manuals are no good,” you’ll hear in the pub. “I miss the days of manuals so large they could crush a man’s skull,” they lift their faces from their pints to say. “I killed a man, once, you know. Whipped out my manual, whopped it on his head, and he was gone.” Their drinking partner nods. “I miss those days.” You try to slink away unseen – the fogies are going on about Falcon 4.0 again.

If you fancy some vintage hardcore flight sim action, and can live without physical murderweapons, head on over to GOG, where they’ve dug up the four Falcon games.

Due to the twists and turns of history, GOG are actually selling the bundle as being Falcon, its sequel Falcon A.T., and Falcon Gold, the re-release of Falcon 3 complete with an hour-long dogfighting lesson video. As for Falcon 4.0, that’s technically classified as a bonus thrown in on top. Someone from GOG explains why:

“The last official version before Hasbro disbanded the dev team was 1.08. After the source code leaked though, the community carried the development cycle on and carried the torch. Currently, the Benchmark Sims team is carrying the torch with their excellent BMS – I, being an A10 Warthog fan, am stunned by the amount of work put into all community projects.

Therefore, fixing the old Falcon 4.0 in terms of compatibility would still give you an inferior game. However, in order to install community projects like BMS, you need to show that you have the original game. Hence the decision to include the original Falcon 4.0 as a bonus.”

Do check out Benchmark Sims and their impressive work if you’re into this.

MechWarrior 2 was the closest I got to serious sims back in the day, but I did once see a pal’s copy of the Falcon 4.0 manual. Jesus god.

33 Comments

  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I remember spending an entire afternoon learning the pre-flight procedures in Falcon 4.0. I don’t think I ever left the ground.

    Haven’t been back.

    • wombat191 says:

      i had the same issue with dcs black shark. spend hours watching videos just to learn to take off and yeah gave up

      i miss the old days of things like janes long bow and microprose flight sims.. those were good inbetween games

      • SanguineAngel says:

        ah, Microprose f-15 was probably the most fun I had with a flight sim when I was a kid. As you say, an nice balance.

        Having said that, I picked up Flaming Cliffs 3 the other day and been having a blast.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        Definitely.

        USNF was such an awesome game.

      • silentdan says:

        While I still have the Black Shark’s cold start sequence memorized, there’s also a “cheat” key (Win-Home, I think) that flips all them switches for you. At that point, you take off by pushing the collective upwards until your wheels leave the ground. Press G to raise landing gear, and that’s it, you’re airborne. Win-Home, wait 2.5 minutes or until it says “autostart completed”, collective up, G.

        (Also, the autopilot is turned on by default, so activate Flight Director to turn it off. On the right-hand panel, there’s a group of five blue square buttons; FD is the rightmost, and when it’s lit, the autopilot gets out of your way.)

      • KastaRules says:

        Yeah me too… I always thought I was an hardcore simmer till DCS came around with its over-complicated world.

        I love the level of realism they managed to reach, but eventually I never play most of the modules I purchase because I simply cannot invest that much time to learn how to operate each aircraft.

    • Janichsan says:

      Good thing that this procedure as described in the manual is completely optional. As is taking off. Or landing. Or fully realistic avionics. ;)

    • Jerkzilla says:

      The simplified Flaming Cliffs 3 aircraft are still easiest to get into DCS, however it now has interactive tutorials for a good chunk of its in depth modules. It makes it ridiculously easy to learn stuff, mainly because of muscle memory.

      Not that you should ever start with the actual preflight (which few sim players do anyway), start-up sequence and take off. You’re basically starting your foray into this deep and immersive genre with the most boring part followed by the most difficult besides landing.

    • ansionnach says:

      I really enjoyed (and finished!) Dynamix’s A-10 Tank Killer back when I was a young teenager. Don’t think I even read the manual. It was a lot of fun!

      • ansionnach says:

        Oh – also finished it with the keyboard as I didn’t get a joystick until much later. Controls pretty well with the keys.

  2. iamscotticus says:

    Speaking of massive manuals, I just had Gary Grigsby’s War In The West delivered.

    300 page hard back manual. It really is a thing of beauty.

    I would love a really nice hard copy of the manuals for the DCS series though, any idea on costs or suppliers?

    • myelbow says:

      http://www.lulu.com and search Eagle Dynamics. There are hard and soft cover versions of manuals for only 3 planes.

      Ka-50
      A-10C
      P-51D

    • neotribe says:

      For Falcon, the manual after the manual was the real Dash-10 (flight manual) for the F-16. (Although at some point BMS put out a pretty awesome manual supplement too.)

      Looks like the same is true for DCS. This thread has links to A-10 materials from ED as well as the USAF: link to forums.eagle.ru

      Not sure what’s out there for the Russian aicraft.

  3. Risingson says:

    Every time we talk about these games there is a call to nostalgia and “what happened to these games”. Since the USNF or even the Novalogic games there have not been simulators that actually felt like games, with their rules, and make you feel like flying.

    And I have been having this discussions since the beginning of the internet. I remember many, maaany hardcore sim fans telling me “BECAUSE WE DON’T WANT GAMES”. And now we are in a very sad world where there is no middle point between the dumbness of an Ace Combat or HAWK and the wall-like learning curve of a DCS game.

    And Falcon 3.0 was one of the hardcore ones.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Well said.

    • silentdan says:

      DCS is a collection of modules, some with steeper learning curves than others. The Su-25T (the only armed plane you get for free) can be thoroughly learned in 2-4 hours, depending on your flight experience and comfort level. The Flaming Cliffs 3 aircraft have a similar level of relative simplicity, while the A-10C and MiG-21bis modules probably require the most learning.

      If DCS tempts you, but you’ve heard scary things, just download the base game (totally free) and see if that Su-25T is as bad as you thought. If it is, skip DCS. If it’s just right, buy Flaming Cliffs 3 to get several more relatively simple aircraft for very little money. If you’re hooked and ready to go all-in, pick up the A-10C, even though it costs as much as a AAA game, and just starting the thing up involves flipping dozens of switches.

    • MJones says:

      I think Rise of Flight hits the middle ground quite nicely. No complex systems to learn, literally just learn to fly the aircraft.

      Fantastic graphics and sound, you get the feeling of being buffeted around in the wind, canvas and wood being ripped to shreds in battle, wheels coming off, flak bursts taking your face off etc.

      Lots of little aids as well that can be toggled off and on. I love my sims to be toward the hardcore end but in RoF I leave the (nicely done and not arcadey) icons switched on that spot planes in the distance before they resolve in to a single pixel.

      Rise of Flight for me is a modern day Knights of the Sky with all the atmosphere of the Amiga version of Wings. Pilots joining and leaving your squadron, watching a teammate going down in flames over a forest, getting your plane down with half its wing missing. Glorious stuff. Awesome physics and damage modelling too.

    • Apocalypse 31 says:

      I just installed and spent several hours with Novalogic’s F-16 Multirole Fighter.

      Took me about 30 minutes to get all the systems and procedures down, but after that it was smooth sailing.

      Also a favorite of mine is Novalogic’s Comanche 4. Easy to pick up, hard to master, but fun nonetheless.

  4. MJones says:

    Falcon 4.0 has a dynamic campaign generator that to this day has not been bettered. The war plays out in real time with flights heading out across the map, and in-game you will see the battles below and in the distance. All missions are generated based on assets which move, respond & attack realistically.

    is aiming for an asset based dynamic campaign; Rise of Flight also has a career mode and if memory serves there is a 3rd party mod which tries to track/move assets and dynamically generate missions. In contrast, DCS has flat static missions.

    The campaign is the life and soul of Falcon 4.0 and is the reward for learning the systems.

    Great to see this on GOG.

    • MJones says:

      I can’t HMTL.

      • SuicideKing says:

        I’m not sure whether you made a typo or actually couldn’t use it, but in case of the latter:

        [a href = "http://yoururlhere"]Cool stuff here![/a]

        [blockquote cite]They said this! So wow![/blockquote]

        Substitute ] with > and [ with <.

        • MJones says:

          Thanks!

          I was linking to the in-development Rogue System, which has been described as ‘DCS Spaceship’ and is supposed to have an asset driven campaign like Falcon 4.0.

    • silentdan says:

      DCS has flat static missions

      This is 95% true. The DCS Mission Editor is capable of creating dynamic campaigns, but it’s a lot of work, and you’ll be disappointed if you expect it, because it’s entirely absent from most of the campaigns. Eagle Dynamics is trying to improve in that area, but currently, your criticism is quite valid in practice.

      • MJones says:

        Ah, I didn’t know that, thanks :)

        If I remember correctly the dynamic campaign engine for Falcon 4.0 was so difficult to build it almost scuppered the whole project.

    • bfar says:

      Falcon 4 was an incredibly engaging game when u got into it.

  5. Janichsan says:

    You know what I would like: Falcon 5.0.

    A pity that all the creators of the Falcon series have left the gaming industry for good.

    • neotribe says:

      Gilman Louie (Chopstick) gave a speech on disrupting gaming at DICE 2014.

      link to alsop-louie.com

      And looking at his career path since F4, it’s kinda hard to second-guess his choices.

      I would be thrilled if Alsop/Louie did re-acquire the rights to the franchise and make/fund an F5 however.

  6. Maxheadroom says:

    I was at school when the original Falcon came out on the Atari ST in ’88. I remember banging on about how immersive it was to a friend, and when he eventually tried it he dismissed it as “just a bunch of triangles”

    I may have oversold it

  7. Mr_Blastman says:

    I have thousands of hours in Falcon 4.0. BMS is amazing. There is nothing else like it. Not even DCS comes close to what BMS does due to the dynamic campaign that is also available on persistent, online servers. It takes a lot of time to learn the jet, but it is worth it.

    Here’s some footage I recorded a couple of years ago, flight starts at 13:58:

    link to youtube.com

    It wasn’t a perfect flight by any stretch. It is probably one of the worst ones I’ve done in a squadron, but… it is a good taste. :)

  8. damnsalvation says:

    My very first two flight sims were Falcon and Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Simulator. I was crushed when Falcon AT came out because we didn’t have an AT, just an XT.
    And that’s how old I am. Raise your hand if you even know what XT and AT meant.

    • Zenicetus says:

      (Raises Hand)

      My first flight sim was MS Flight Simulator 1.0 on a floppy-disk-only PC. First combat sim too. I remember flying a Camel over that checkerboard CGA combat zone in FS, fighting stick figure enemy planes.

      I was part of the closed beta tester team for Falcon 3.0, which was an absolute bug farm on release (they didn’t listen to us, or just had to push it out the door). But eventually they patched it into decent shape. IIRC, Falcon 3.0 was the first combat sim to introduce padlock view, and like 4.0 it also had the kind of dynamic campaign that nobody bothers doing any more.

      These days I fly either civilian X-Plane where the “enemy” is real-world weather injected into the sim, or else Rise of Flight for combat. I need more campaign context than DCS provides, and I’m more drawn to helicopters and vintage prop plane combat anyway. I should probably try Battle of Stalingrad from the RoF devs, but the setting and the planes just aren’t that interesting to me, and it lacks a campaign setting (last I heard).