DCS World, already the ultimate air combat simulation, is about to get better. Way better. It's in the process of co-developing an F-14 Tomcat add-on, and that sound you hear is my inner-12-year-old squealing like it's Christmas morning.
For those of us who've spent hours trying to decipher and play Micropros's Fleet Defender – at least when it worked – this is incredibly welcome news. We're finally getting what we've been waiting for: the ability to virtually fly the Tomcat surrounded by incredible graphics, with smooth frame rates, and truly accurate modeling. It's about damn time.
Here are the highlights from Leatherneck Simulations:
- Highly Accurate 6-DOF (Degrees of Freedom) Cockpit
- Highly Accurate avionics and weapons system modelling - including the vaunted AWG-9 Radar system and AIM-54 Phoenix missiles.
- AIM-54 Phoenix Simulation with a CFD based AFM
- 'JESTER AI' - A Proprietary AI System for fully voiced, dependable and smart RIO/WSO
- Highly Accurate Flight Model - Based on Real Performance Data
- Both -A and -B Model F-14's
- Multiplayer Multicrew capability. Fly together as RIO and Pilot!
- Animated Crew Members - Closely Integrated with JESTER AI
- Highly Detailed External Model, Animations and Textures
- Highly Accurate Aircraft System and Subsystem Modelling
- One Free Theatre bundled with the Aircraft
- Full, lengthy single-player campaign
- Full Suite of Documentation, including game manual, quickstart guides, and more.
- Fully voiced and interactive training missions, teaching you to fly and fight.
Yes, they said 'Jester AI'. And yes, you can fly and fight with another player as a single crew, one playing the pilot and one playing the RIO. That makes it basically two games in one. Like the upcoming DCS World add-on featuring the Nellis Test and Training Range, along with Red Flag, you can almost be certain that the campaign that comes with this F-14 add-on will feature a course modeled on the real TOP GUN.
The Leatherneck site has apparently crashed since the announcement, and rightfully so, with just this iconic outline and the phrase "Welcome Back, Baby" in its place. Really, that says it all.
Bringing the Tomcat to life with the best air combat sim platform ever devised may also be a sign that flight simulation gaming is making a comeback after losing momentum over the last decade.
Now I just have to find myself a RIO... or pilot... damn, that is not an easy decision, but one I am very glad to be struggling with after all these years under a Tomcat flight sim embargo.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com