MiG Alley works on more levels than the average flight sim. Sure, you get the normal 'jump in a plane and go shoot at things' mode, but you also get a pretty neat campaign manager. And you get to plan your missions properly as well, if that sort of thing lights your candle.
You're offered a selection of US aircraft, and one of two variants of the Soviet MiG 15, plus a variety of missions. It all works surprisingly well: think of your favourite strategy game, then add the ability to actually fly the missions you've set up. You kill the targets you've specified - or not, of course, but we'll come to that in a minute. The mission planner is easily the most comprehensive since Falcon 4.0, the campaign takes place in real time, and if you kill a target it stays dead for a decent length of time.
And it looks bloody marvellous. The ground still looks a little like someone's taken a photo, put some contours on it and then stuck 3D objects on top (presumably because that's how it's been done), but the whole look and feel is so immersive that such a small flaw pales into insignificance. And the aircraft look fan-bloody-tastic. They're fully recognisable, and you can shoot bits off them, while any damage your own plane incurs is visible too. You can see contrails when the weather is right, fuel leaks, fire, smoke - everything. You get a smudge of grubby oily smoke when you crack the throttle open, and the engine takes a while to spool up, which is a nice touch. All the control surfaces move, and fuel tanks, bombs, wings and so on drop off, so yes, you can break the plane without the help of Ivan the Terrible. The G effects are well implemented, in fact probably the best yet seen in a flight sim. Even the padlock view, which was a let-down in Flying Corps works pretty well.
Tell Us About The Flying Stuff
I've yet to fly an early '50s jet fighter in real life, but having flown later ones it appears that the flight models are pretty accurate. Rowan have concentrated on what they see as the two most important aircraft - the MiG and the F-86 Sabre - so the others have suffered a little, but that doesn't make them bad, just not quite as different as they might be.
Rowan have obviously done their homework, and all the nasty things such as transonic buffet and aileron reversal which lurked around the corner waiting to bite your bum have been modelled - it's a nice surprise to try and pull out of a power dive only to discover that nothing works as it should. And you can pull out so hard that the wings start climbing while the rest of the plane keeps diving. At this point, ejecting is normally a good idea.
And there's more. The missions themselves are enjoyable, and the enemy AI is a variable you choose - but if you crank it up then Ivan/GI Joe is gonna be a whole lot better than you are. And early jets weren't exactly built to take lots of punishment - a good burst of gunfire and they go down. Which is fine if you're on the right end of the guns, not so cool if you're not.
If any criticism had to be made, the biggest gripe would be that despite the fact that we British got sucked in quite early on and had some fantastic aircraft, you only get to play as an American or a baddie. Oh, and some of the voices are a bit iffy. As we said, the ground S, isn't perfect - European Air war is better in that respect - but that's about it. MiG Alley is hard work at the highest settings, but definitely worth persevering with.
Download Mig Alley
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP