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Strap yourself in for a ride that will knock your socks (and your wings) right off! Activision's latest air combat simulator, A-10 CUBA! offers the latest in flight realism.
You are the pilot of Fairchild's A-10 Warthog, one of the US' arsenals most potent and ungainly ground attack aircraft. As tough and resilient as it is ugly, the A-10 will get you into and out of the toughest situation a hostile force can dish out. The amount of punishment the Warthog can dish out and receive is truly incredible and Activision has done an excellent job demonstrating this.
Situated in Guantanamo Bay, you are offered twelve missions to fly consisting of air to air, air to ground, and various combinations of the two. Your mission area is Cuba, who in this simulation, are none too friendly. Be prepared to be assaulted with Surface to Air Missiles, Anti Aircraft Artillery, Flak, and skilled enemy pilots. At the start, you will be given four training missions to choose from and these consist of takeoff, landing, air to air, and air to ground. The training missions are a good idea as you will want to become familiar with the extremely busy cockpit. Activision has really tried to go to the limit in realism and you will find yourself immersed in the world of jet combat in short order. It must be pointed out that the designers of this game opted to go with realism in motion, combat, and pilot stress rather than photo realistic graphics. Upon first load-up of this simulation, you may find the graphics of the scenery a bit polygonal like other combat simulators on the market, but I have yet to fly any simulator that comes close to A-10s realism in motion, smoothness, and frame rate. The homework has been done on the physics model that they used. It is worthwhile to really put this plane through some serious experimentation in flight characteristics before embarking on a serious mission. The Warthog will realistically fly like a pig if you load it up to the limits and will fly relatively nimbly when light. Don't kid yourself though; the A-10 is not a dogfighter as any Warthog pilot will tell you. It is a flying tank.
What's it like to fly the A-10? Start the engine with the APU, power up the Heads Up Display, choose between navigation or target display, set flaps for takeoff and taxi to the runway. All of these controls can be switched on and off with the mouse or keyboard. Memorizing the controls on the keyboard is recommended as the mouse behaves sluggishly when everything is happening, and you'll be far too busy to be staring at a control panel. Arrow keys will change your cockpit views in a 360 degree direction as well as up and down. This is one of the areas where the realism hits you. The perspective is very accurate and the views are helpful especially in formation flying. You will almost always be flying with a wingman or two who will guide you on the flight path for the mission. It's up to you whether to follow them or not, although I do advise this at first. The art work on the A-10 is well done and includes many details like moving ailerons, elevator, flaps, and rudders. The jets glow based on power output and also flame when things are not going so well. What really gets your heart going is the fact that the Warthog will fly when damaged. Its "Iron Bathtub" protects you quite well and features of the real plane like engines that will eject pieces of your damaged craft and debris while still operating have been incorporated. The plane is not indestructible, and flying it becomes more and more difficult as further havoc is wreaked on your A-10. External views of your plane are available and show the damage you have sustained. Don't be surprised to see pieces of your wings or rudder missing! The A-10 gets more and more skittery as your speed decreases when damaged so watch out. Again, the motion has been handled superbly for control surfaces and will put other simulators to shame. Gliding is also possible and the plane can be trimmed to a descent rate of about one thousand feet per minute at one hundred and fifty knots.
What's the combat like? Grueling! It will seem at first as if they are sending you on suicide missions until you get the hang of it. I've flown many combat games and simulators and I felt like a complete novice. The help screen will give great hints as well as recommends armaments for each mission if you get tired of improvising. The A-10 Warthog is not a dogfighter and any mix-ups you have at close range with a Mig or Sukhoi will leave you clawing for the ejection handle. Fight and run with long range AIM-9s is your only hope. Air to ground combat has been well covered with varieties of heavy bombs, rockets, laser and optical guided missiles, and a cannon that will cut buildings and planes open like a can opener. There is so much to follow that you may want to have someone act as your Weapons System Officer to take care of some of the threats and targets. While flying the mission, you are subject to S.A.Ms, flak, and hostile planes and missiles. If you get hit, you may have to extinguish fires and watch your HUD fizzle in and out of operation. You start to gain much respect for the pilots that fly the real version. If you are hit and manage to limp home or to a friendly base during the mission, you can reload weapons and fuel, and climb back into the action. Damage is damage however, and if your landing gear has been shot off, you are not going back up. You will be expected to fly at low levels (fifty feet) through canyons and gullies to get to some targets. This is one place where a little more graphics detail might have helped as depth perception can get a little skewed, especially at night. Did I mention the redeye mission? This one will have you turning off all lights in your computer room and wishing for an Forward Looking InfraRed guidance system. Unfortunately, you only have your eyes to go on and this mission will challenge you for a long time. For defense, you have the option of loading an electronics jamming pod on your hardpoint as well as chaff and flares to confuse incoming missiles. While there is a mission map, a little more navigation help would have been nice, though your area of operation is small enough for you to eventually get your bearings. The runway and taxiway markings are accurate and show that extra little details were followed through for realism. Weapon aiming is a little difficult to figure out at first, i.e. pickling targets, and a few more training sessions might be required before you get the hang of it.
Sounds for A-10 CUBA! are well done and include explosions, guns, missile launches and everything else related to combat including the sound of you the pilot getting hit. Do not eject in a hangar or near any cliffs or you will hear a most horrific human scream that will make your spine shiver! The whole game is loaded onto your hard drive so don't expect a stunning musical score. This is not what A-10 is about and you really don't need to hear music when your plane is erupting in flames, flak, and shrapnel. The sounds cover a wide range and would sound great through a sub-woofer. Jet sounds are realistic as is wind noise from the airframe especially while gliding. They appear to have thought of everything.
Written by Jeffrey Waters
Click here for the demo.
Requires your system to have the latest Windows 95 drivers that can fully support Microsoft's DirectX.
Optional features: If your video card fully supports Microsoft's Direct 3-D, this game can utilize the enhanced features of your 3-D card.
Network Play: 100% Windows 95 compatible network, IPX Network or TCP/IP
Internet and modem play not supported
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