PC Games: Lock On: Modern Air Combat

Lock On is a combat flight simulator that lets you fly missions over wonderfully detailed landscapes in the Black Sea region. You are able to fly up to eight American, Russian and German aircraft, and many more aircraft can be watched in action as part of the computer’s AI.

Although I am not an avid player of flight simulations, I found this game to be quite easy to learn. Learning to fly a game fighter properly will take quite a lot of practice and can be quite addictive — not to mention frustrating, if you end up in a death roll or other unrecoverable manoeuvre.

The training operations in this game provide details on learning all the instruments and how to manoeuvre and control the aircraft. Cockpit views of all the aircraft are very detailed, and after looking around you will be dizzy with the number of gauges and controls a real fighter pilot has to be familiar with.

Once you have learned the basic controls and can make heads and tails of the cockpit instruments and head-up displays, you can grab the controls of the plane and go for a quick flight, undertake up to 20 single missions or join a combat mission. The game supports up to 32 players over a LAN, or up to six over the Internet.

The game works best with a dedicated flight simulation controller, but the keyboard can be used and you can map your own keys if you wish. Visually and aurally, Lock On is simply stunning: the terrain and plane models are wonderfully rendered. The game ran a little sluggishly at 1280x1024 high detail resolution on my 3.2GHz Pentium 4, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950-equipped system. The game also seemed to be temperamental, with some stability issues. In particular, when playing at the maximum detail the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro graphics adapter got so hot that it froze the computer! On the GeForce FX card I got around some startup glitches by switching the game to windowed mode. Nevertheless, these sorts of bugs are present in many games this complex and are ironed out with update patches; some are already available from the game’s official Web site.

This game is definitely recommended to the flight sim enthusiast. Gamers who are inexperienced with flight simulators or are a little timid about diving right into one due to the learning curve will nonetheless enjoy this game and its user-friendliness.

Visuals: excellent detail Audio: realistic engine sounds and communications Gameplay: very good for beginners and experts Developer: Eagle Dynamics Publisher: UbiSoft URL: www.lo-mac.com

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