To me, flight simulations hardly ever come close to reality. Games like Jane's F-15: The Definitive Jet Combat Simulator are fun but not a good representation of what it would be like to be in the cockpit of a fighter jet. F/A-18E Super Hornet is not the definitive flight sim but its detail comes very close to providing a feeling of actually being in control of something real. After all, this is the game the U.S. Navy uses for recruiting purposes.
Watching the opening movie sequence unveils an exciting conflict with the Russians and starts with a bang. The music is excellent and blends nicely with heroic combat. Although, why the designers didn't include the music as background during actual gameplay is a mystery as it would have improved the level of excitement immensely.
The movies lead into the combat missions but the storyline never develops as you progress. This is disappointing but, given that F/A-18E Super Hornet's focus is more on accurate flight simulation than an action game, it may be understandable.
The cockpit is the most impressive part of the game. It's very refreshing that you can actually use every button and knob on the control panel. Luckily, keyboard commands are available as well, so you don't have to go searching for the right button while an enemy plane is firing missiles at you. The cockpit is so large you have to scroll down to view the whole thing.
F/A-18E Super Hornet is so complex you'll find it necessary to study the manual and controls very carefully before getting airborne. Prior to take off, you have to know how to initiate the manual or automatic lift off procedure. This is very detailed and you must know how to engage the ACU and both engines before accelerating (among other things).
The Super Hornet controls encompass nine separate categories, each with a plethora of commands: Carrier Operations, Super Hornet Controls, Cockpit Controls Equivalent, Convenience Controls, Autopilot, Comms, Viewing Modes, Game Controls and Hotas Emulation. To an extent, this gives you an idea of exactly how much control you have over the F/A-18E.
It's a very good feeling to have total control while flying but it's also very rare. Most flight simulators simply have you controlling the dogfighting but F/A-18E Super Hornet lets you initiate the take off, change your wing flaps, power, radar, wheel brakes, autopilot and so forth. And, if you turn off your engines in mid flight, you will crash! However, invincibility mode lets you play the game and master the controls without worrying about blowing up.
While the workings of the F/A-18E are fantastic, other aspects of the game fall to the wayside. The detail of the sky and jets are excellent though the surrounding environments are lacking. It's also very difficult to find enemy planes, fly around a specific area and navigate while accessing control panel buttons. Even with available hot keys for scrolling to various areas of the cockpit, it's most taxing to attempt to do this while trying to fight an enemy.
When you finally join a dogfight, it's difficult to locate the enemy, let alone destroy them. Once you figure out how to use the radar, this changes. F/A-18E Super Hornet is slow paced but this is true to life, as you won't find wall to wall excitement flying missions in the U. S. Navy.
Each mission has a specific agenda and you really have to study all the parameters carefully in order to succeed. Flying blindly into the sky, the objectives of a mission don't necessarily present themselves directly and you'll have to look carefully at your HUD display and other instruments in order to determine the best flight plan.
Once you figure out the controls (this will take a while), F/A-18E Super Hornet offers a truly superior flight experience. It's superior because of the amount of control placed directly in your hands. The computer will not handle the take off, landing or anything else in the game -- it's all up to you.
So, if you're sick and tired of flight simulations never living up to your strict standards, give F/A-18E Super Hornet a try. It may not be the answer to your flight simulation dreams but it offers a degree of control and reality that has never been reached before on this platform.
Graphics: The graphics on the whole are excellent but the landscapes need more detail or color. The fog, weather conditions, your F/A-18E and the sky are done very well, though, and the flight console looks like the real thing.
Sound: The opening movie sequence and score are done incredibly well -- it's like watching a movie. During gameplay, however, there is no music but the sounds are very realistic.
Enjoyment: At first, enjoyment is set aside for learning as you really cannot get into what's going on fully until you read the manual. And, there's a lot required to simply enjoy a video game. While this might turn some people off immediately, patience will be rewarded in the long run. Music during combat would have increased the enjoyment factor.
Replay Value: Since it takes so long to master the controls and inner workings of the F/A-18E, you'll probably play the game again. In Internet multiplayer action, you can battle 25 opponents; so, once you've mastered the controls, you have a platform on which to test your skills against other cyber pilots.
People who downloaded F/A-18E Super Hornet have also downloaded:
F/A-18 Operation Desert Storm, Jane's F/A-18, F-22 Lightning 3, F/A-18 Korea, F-16 Aggressor, F-16 Fighting Falcon (a.k.a. iF-16 Fighting Falcon), F-15 Strike Eagle III, F/A-18 Hornet 3.0
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