MiG-29 Fulcrum is a gorgeous game. The texture maps on all of the planes are very highly detailed, the terrain is attractive and exaggerated in height so that its more fun to fly low on your ingress to target. Your own plane is a sight to behold though. I have not ever seen planes looking this good in a sim before. The texture mapping is damned near photorealistic. The planes also feature little touches like the ability to see yourself through the canopy of the cockpit. Best off all, the inside of the MiG-29 features the most detailed 3-D virtual cockpit ever seen in a flight sim. It actually looks better than some 2-D cockpits in sims like Jane's F-15. MiG-29 Fulcrum even reflects the control panels on the canopy.
Once you pick your mouth up off of the floor you might also begin to notice the gameplay in MiG-29. It's fun. Most other sims usually elicit a somewhat more complex, err... different reaction. MiG-29 its just... fun. The gameplay feels very reminiscent of Mission Studios Jetfighter 3 or FullBurn, without the narrative depth. Slightly arcade-ish, accessible, in general a fun little firefight. Aw heck, this game is a fun rehash of F-22 Lighting II, Novalogic's first polygonal 3D sim.
Now, the planes don't move completely unrealistically and generally have a moderately believable feel to them. The difference between MiG-29 and more complex sims is simple: you can jump in to this game, familiarize yourself with a few controls, and kick afterburner within a few minutes, unlike more complex simulations which require hours of study and an advanced degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
Most avionics systems are controlled automatically. The plane creates a shoot list for you that may be cycled through, you actually never have to use you radar for targeting or identification, its all done for you. Hell, your wheels even automatically retract after you take off. The designers of this game realized that they were making an arcade-ish "simulation" and designed missions that, assuming you succeed, would make you a triple ace after 20 minutes of game time.
It really is not hard to kill your enemies, missiles usually work unusually well (the reverse of which being that they are very hard to evade yourself), and getting kills with the cannon is almost laughably to easy once you get in range. The lack of realism shows most obviously in landings and takeoffs. You'll have a very, very easy time placing your MiG-29 back on terra firma. A lot of this is due to the fact that you can take off and maintain flight at velocities usually associated with falling like a brick.
But, whether or not this is a realistic or believable simulation of what it is actually like to fly an MIG-29, it is still his an enjoyable romp through them wild white clouds and the dainty blue sky. Speaking of clouds; MIG-29 features the thickest cloud level in recorded computer history, a trait inherited from F-22 Lightning II. Actually, the engine featured in MIG-29 and F-16 Multirole Fighter (It's sister game, released simultaneously) is simply an updated version of the F-22 L2 engine.
Sound is good. There ain't nothing spectacular in the audio department, but there is nothing wrong there either. Much like the rest of the game the sound satisfies but doesn't warrant a letter home to your dead hamsters and other assorted pets. I do have one problem with the music though. This is a game about Russia, hell you can even have the control tower talk to you in Russian if you want! So why is it that the music is generic American techno? Have the designers of this game never listened to the music in "The Hunt For Red October"? Russian themes could have been used to make some truly memorable music and lend some much needed atmosphere to the game. Would a little mandolin have killed them?
So, in the overall estimation of the game there isn't anything to scream in pain about, and certainly nothing to moan in pleasure (with a Russian accent) about. The game elicits a pleasant grin. Basically it all comes down to this: MIG-29 is a good game for anyone who has never played a flight sim before, but would like to fancy themselves zipping along at mach 2.5 preserving communism. On the other hand, if you are a flight sim freak, you'd do better to look elsewhere for your hyper realistic aerodynamic fix. Fulcrum is a solid game with impressive graphics, perfect for the common, enforced, state-minded average Yuri.
People who downloaded MiG-29 Fulcrum have also downloaded:
F-22 Lightning 3, Mig Alley, Lock On: Modern Air Combat, F-16 Multirole Fighter, Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator: WWII Europe Series, Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 2: WWII Pacific Theater, Flanker 2.5, Jane's F/A-18
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