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a game by Digital Image Design
Platform: PC (1996)
User Rating: 6.7/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Flight Games

Martin Kenwright is the MD of did (Digital Image Design) and after meeting him a number of times over the years I have come to the conclusion that he is one of life's lucky bastards. The first time we met him, he'd been working on F-29 Retaliator, a well produced but unfortunately flawed flight sim that hit the st and the Amiga. The next time he was peddling this TFX thing that Ocean had signed up which everyone agreed was rather jolly impressive. Soon after this we hear that he's signed a six figure publishing deal with Ocean and is starting to produce military-spec flight sims as well as games. And then this time... THIS TIME... he's driving a brand new Ferrari 358GT (red of course) he owns a castle (yes - a castle) and is about to install a jet fighter wing and ejector seat into his boardroom before sinking the rest of the plane into a lake outside his castle. And to top it off he's just produced one of the most impressive looking flight sims ever.

Military Level Intelligence

Now I know we try not to pass any real critical comment when we do a Blueprint, but EF2000 is one of those games that induces a real gut reaction. It's good. Bloody good. Not only docs it look spectacular (check out the screen shots - have you ever seen anything like it?) but it quite possibly has more bits of extreme cleverness than any other simulation you've ever seen on the pc.

Set during a hypothetical war in northern Europe, the game not only features an exceptionally clever flight combat model (which I will come to in a minute or two) but it also has an incredibly advanced Ai-based battlefield generation system. This new system is allegedly as powerful as that used in training facilities by the military, and effectively fights an entire war based on millions of statistics and elements in which you are only a small part. The upshot of this is that every time you play the game, you'll never come across the same conflict scenario twice.

Whilst this ai system is impressive in itself, it becomes even more snazzy when you learn that the playing area for the game is actually four million square kilometres, and all of this has been reproduced from military maps and charts. The thing is though, there are vehicles and armed forces all over this map and the TFX battlefield system keeps track of what everything is doing - all the time. Pretty impressive, huh?

Flight Models with knobs on

When TFX was originally released there were an awful lot of people who were more than a little impressed with the flight model employed by the game... especially in the rock-hard and ninja-tastic military-spec mode. EF2000 takes this one step further and has been produced with the aid of declassified information gleaned from Nato and British Aerospace, as well as comments made by test pilots of the EF2000 itself. Although not really qualified to comment on the realism, I do have to say that this feels incredibly real. And I was quite fortunate that when I visited did there'was a geezer from the raf sitting right behind me as I played it. Hearing someone who has actually flown the real thing say things like "Oh yes. that was absolutely spot on" is probably about as much of a recommendation as you're ever going to get. The propeller heads among you lot are going to cream over this.

But it's not all ai, fancy physics and maths, though. Oh no. You see, it looks incredible as well. One of the reasons that Norway was chosen as a combat zone is the tremendous variety in the scenery: you've got watery bits, snowy bits, bits with trees and bits with lots of buildings. And all of them look absolutely fantastic - especially in svga. The code for the game is apparently efficient enough to crank out svga graphics in full detail at a rate of sofps if you've got the hardware to do it (namely a very high spec Pentium). On top of this, though, it will also be one of the first products on the market to be optimised for the new glint graphics processor set for release later this year.

The world at war

The basic idea behind the conflict in EF2000 is that the Russians have stopped being the good guys and have gone and gotten all stroppy. In an attempt to give northern Europe a kicking, the Ruskies have moved into Norway and are gradually working their way south. With Norway under Russian control, the air and land forces would be in an ideal position to swoop down and slap Nato right in the chops.

Sound a bit familiar? Yes we thought so too. But it took us a couple of days of banging our heads together and trying to remember the last time we read a book. Eventually we sussed that the whole thing was very similar to Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising. So, if this Blueprint has whetted your appetite somewhat, you could go out and buy a copy of the book while you're waiting.

Coming soon

The way in which the TFX series will grow is extremely exciting. Although still only in the planning stages, DID has numerous plans to ensure that simulations on the PC become more and more realistic. First, the team is trying to establish an industry standard electronic battlefield system which will be employed by all major simulation producers. If put into operation this will mean that products such as Falcon 4.0 and Apache Longbow could end up being interfaced with TFX branded products. Second, the TFX series will be able to share data between products. EF2000 is only the first in the new series and, in future, we can expect to see Russian aircraft with their own scenarios. But the planes and the scenarios are intended to be interchangeable - so you'll be able to fly as the Russians in the EF2000 Norwegian battle.

Finally, the DWANGO (Doom Worldwide Area Network Gaming Organisation) multi-player network system has expressed an interest in EF2000 and is currently proposing a 512 player world-wide dial-in air war. Scary eh?

The game already features an eight-player network option.

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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