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Lock On: Air Combat Simulation PC CD-ROM Official Website

Published by Ubi Soft Entertainment
Developed by Eagle Dynamics
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99

Lock On: Air Combat Simulation which is also known as Lock On: Modern Air Combat in the US (or LO-MAC for short) has been a highly anticipated title for combat flight enthusiasts for a long time now. The major cause of the desire for the simulation has been the fantastic screenshots that have released over the last few months which show the game looking far superior to any other flight simulation to date. It's a flight sim that hardcore enthusiasts have wanted for a long time so let's take a look and see how it shapes up.

So what does Lock On offer then? Well there are various single missions for you to undertake, head-to-head and co-op multiplayer modes and campaigns (static not dynamic) based upon the A-10A, F-15C, Su-25 and Su-27 aircraft. There is also a mission editor that allows you to create your own custom missions. You also get a Fast Battle Planner that allows you to use a set of battle variables to set up your own scenarios to fly or save and fly later. An Encyclopaedia has been included which is actually impressive in it's detail. It's fair to say that there's a lot value here and those who have waited so long for Lock On should be very pleased by what's on offer.

There are a total of eight flyable aircraft in Lock On with a further fifty AI controlled aircraft. Those you can fly are A-10A Warthog, F-15C Eagle, Su27 Flanker B, Mig-29 Fulcrum A, Mig-29 Fulcrum C, Su-25 Frogfoot, Su-33 Flanker D and Mig-29 Fulcrum A. They all look fantastic both inside and outside the cockpit. The flight model can be as realistic or arcade like as you want thank to many assists that you can turn on. The damage modeling is also impressive and doesn't appear to be uniform in anyway which is extremely impressive. You can 'mouse-look' around the cockpit and zoom your view too with the mouse-wheel. I was disappointed to find that you can't mouse-click on any of the instruments though but this is the only fault I can find with the aircraft which is saying a heck of a lot.

Graphically there is no denying that Lock On looks stunning in every department when the graphical settings are turned up to the maximum. There is a huge performance price to pay for maximising the graphical detail though and it's so great that few PC gamers will actually experience a good and consistent framerate by doing this. Fortunately Lock On allows you to tweak a variety of graphical details that will allow you to run the game comfortably, although not wonderfully, if you own a decent PC system. I was fortunate enough to borrow my brothers FX5950 Ultra graphics card (the current top end Nvidia card) whilst I was reviewing Lock On and even with this I couldn't get 60 frames per second (it hovered around 44fps, on default settings, at a resolution of 1024x768 with a XP2800+ and 1GB RAM) which just goes to show the graphical demands that the game places on your system. Still performance issues aside, Lock On looks excellent, especially the aircraft models, and hardcore enthusiasts will appreciate the level of detail on offer here.

The tutorials are fine for deaf gamers as they are delivered in text. The various communications that you receive are shown in text too. The text appears in the top left of the screen. Whilst this is great it's a shame that the text outside of the tutorials wasn't placed on a dark overlay to make visibility better. The various alarm sounds are not captioned though. The included manual isn't really up to much and you'll have to look at the PDF one provided on the CD if you want to read in detail about the simulation. A keycard hasn't been included either although the controls are listed on page 48-49 in the paper manual provided and you can now download a PDF keycard from the official website.

Lock On: Air Combat Simulation is an impressive effort and should please hardcore fans that have waited so long for the simulation to appear. It's great the way the flight model can be made as realistic or as arcade like as you wish because this helps to accommodate the newbie and enthusiast alike which is something you don't often get. Some reviews out there have mentioned various bugs but I have to say it's behaved perfectly for us with no crashes whatsoever. The only thing I would say against Lock On is that the documentation you get with the simulation is insufficient and the system demands are fiendishly high. Be prepared to see Lock On in plenty of graphics cards benchmarks in the future because out of all the software out there at present it has to be the most demanding.

Overall Game Rating: 8.2/10
Lock On will be loved by virtual combat pilots everywhere. It really is a simulation for tomorrows hardware though when using full graphical detail.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Aside from no captions for the sounds there are no problems.