Jane's Combat Simulations: IAF - Israeli Air Force
Wait, wait, wait. The mood is not right; let me put in my Top Gun soundtrack -- ah, there we go. Welcome to Jane's newest release, Israeli Air Force, a monster flight simulation that lets you take a peek inside the most advanced tactical Air Force in the world. IAF is the first simulation to model not just one aircraft, but an entire air force using real Israeli combat doctrine and tactical operations. IAF offers full training from basic flight to Israeli tactics, plus single missions, scramble mode, quick mission generator and six campaigns. What is most impressive about this game is that it was created with the help of actual Israeli Air Force pilots, not some cybergeek's impression of a flight simulator. You are given a choice of seven aircraft that the Israelis use in combat: the mighty F-16D, the F-15 2000, F-4E/2000, F-4 regular, Mirage III, Kfir C-7, Lavi ATF, and multiplayer allows you to use a couple of Russian planes as well. Jane's has included multiplayer options so you can duel it out in the sky with up to eight of your buddies. Jane's also gives you a bonus CD that marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Israeli Air Force. I learned more about what Israel has gone through in its troubled past than I was ever taught in school. Who says video games don't teach us a thing or two? It includes interviews, trivia, and great camera footage of the Israeli Air Force in action.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Can you say complicated? I have had this game for two and a half weeks and I'm not even close to understanding everything it takes to fly a war machine. That's not bad, mind you, I just want you to understand that there is a steep learning curve involved in this flight simulator. You have a different variety of controls available. For the more experienced out there you can use rudder pedals, with a combination of the keyboard and joystick. I used a Microsoft SideWinder joystick and the keyboard. It will take you at least a week to remember all the commands for the keyboard, but Jane's steps in and gives you a laminated foldout of the keyboard commands that you can place in front of your keyboard for easy reference. One thing I found strange was that I really didn't feel like I was cruising at 400 knots; maybe that's how it is in real life, probably not though. I was expecting a rush of adrenaline, my heart pounding, my palms all sweaty, but it just didn't happen. Even when I was being hunted down by an opposing enemy plane, it felt too computerized, but again I have never flown before, so maybe I've watched too many movies or read one too many Clancy novels. I did really enjoy the training missions because they have a training instructor who will talk to you and walk you through the procedures of flying, which made me a whole lot more comfortable flying these million-dollar machines. The game did a great job of making me feel like a complete failure to the Air Force. After each mission they give you a debriefing; mine was always that I sucked big time, but those of you who read my reviews know that I'm a kill-you-with-a-gun-or-knife type of guy. You will also have to be pretty good at geometry when performing maneuvers and closing in on an enemy plane, which might explain my lack of talent.
The graphics are just stunning in this simulation. I understand that Jane's used stereoscopic satellite data of the Middle East, with photo-realistic coloring and true elevation. Leave it to Jane's to use satellite images; these guys invented the word "realism" for PC games. The graphics for the cockpit were amazing; I can't believe the amount of information that is available to these pilots and how they process it all. When you switch camera views and watch your plane flying, you can see that a lot of time went into the graphics for each plane. You don't really get to see the bad guys, though; most air-to-air is conducted too far out for visual identification, so you have to rely on your radar and your friend or foe identification computer. My guess is that hardcore simulation people understand this and come to expect that type of realism.
The audio part of the game didn't excite me a whole lot, but how much audio can you expect when you are flying a plane? When an enemy has you in radar lock, your on-board computer will beep to tell you that you are about to get your butt blown out of the sky. You can hear the whoosh of your rockets taking off after an enemy, the thumping of your cannon guns going off or the bombs being released. I found that the audio was the best when in training missions, because the instructor talks to you and tells you what to do. I also liked taking off or landing because the air traffic controller will tell you whether you are clear for take-off or landing. You also get to hear your landing gear go up or down and the increase of power to your engines.
Windows 95/98, Pentium 200MHZ with MMX technology, 635 MB hard drive for full install, 32 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM drive or faster, Windows 95/98 compatible sound card, DirectX5 or 6, 28.8Kbps modem connection for Internet play, keyboard, and mouse (joystick highly recommended), SVGA, 640x480 resolution for graphics (3D accelerator highly recommended).
What game by Jane's would be complete without a nicely put together manual? Jane's gives you a big enough manual for a good evening or two of serious reading, but you honestly need that when it comes to a Jane's combat simulation. They cover all specifications for each plane, how to read the cockpit controls, and how to perform barrel rolls and all necessary maneuvers to attack the enemy. They walk you through the options of multiplayer games, whether you are hosting or joining your buddies online. You also get a nice fold-out of the keyboard to use when flying that helps you remember where all the controls are. Jane's always get an A+ in my book for their comprehensive manuals.
If you are willing to accept a very steep learning curve to the game and don't mind being frustrated for the first couple of weeks, this game is for you. All the serious flight sim guys will be in hog heaven, because instead of just one plane you get a choice of seven planes, not to mention you can replay the Six Day War, Yom Kippur War, and the Lebanon War along with three futuristic wars. Plus you can blast your buddies out of the sky with multiplayer games. I would like to come back in six months and give you, my gentle reader, a more in-depth review, because I'm still learning what this game has to offer. On that note I'm giving this game a score of 85/100, and in six months the score will probably be even higher. So pull out the wheel blocks; we've got to get airborne before it's too late, rolling, turning, diving, and blasting that sucker out of the sky.
Download Jane's Combat Simulations: IAF - Israeli Air Force
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP