Mig Alley – Screw Hawkeye and Hot Lips

Mig Alley is a tour de force flight sim covering an era that has been sadly neglected — the Korean War. The Korean War was the first jet-age war and the last war where guns made the kill, before missiles turned air combat into a video game. Finally we can play our own version of The Bridges of Toko Ri.

Players can fly an F-86 (two variants), F-80, F-84 or the F-51 (Mustang, redesignated) for the U.N. or the Mig-15 (two variants) or the Yak-9 for the North Koreans and their Soviet and Chinese “advisors.” For those taking a quick break at work, there are Hot Shot (instant action) and Quick Missions (adjustable instant action). For those with more time on their hands, there are five campaigns each spanning several months, or players can go for the gusto and sign up for the entire war. The campaigns are only playable from the UN side.

Players can choose their own level of involvement in the campaigns. They can leave the planning to the computer and just fly missions, modify missions that have been generated, add missions, or go it on their own and plan every aspect of the air war. Players determine what 112 aircraft will do during each session, and there are three sessions per day. Now when you are already bored with this game, come play Clash Royale. Visit the site that has its tricks to get you started at clashroyalehack.fr.

Mission planners have a wealth of data available to help set their priorities, including bomb damage assessments from previous raids and intelligence estimates of the capacity and activity levels of various targets. They can set waypoints, stagger waves of aircraft to ensure CAP coverage, add waves to a mission to suppress flak, provide CAP, reconnaissance or bomb. They can set the aircraft loadouts. Micromanagers can set the attack method, attack pattern and formation.

When the AI pilots are set to their maximum skill levels, it feels like flying against other humans. They exhibit a range of behaviors and skill. Life gets so interesting (and sometimes short) when players encounter one of the hero level pilots. At the same time, they don’t fall into the “magic gunner” syndrome. AI pilots take shots humans would take and miss; they don’t make perfect kills every time. When shot at, some pilots head for home, some evade radically, while others waste no time turning the tables.

Flying missions is a pleasure. Instead of long, tedious passages of flight on the way to target, players can go to the map view and accelerate time to the next waypoint, taking only a few seconds to make it to the target where the fun begins.

There’s real radio chatter. When the wingman (who will stay right there almost no matter what) says break, players better listen, or they’ll soon hear the pings and bangs of cannon fire hitting their planes. The pilots call out to each other, filling the air with chatter.

There are a wealth of view commands and aids to help pilots keep situational awareness. There are also several padlock views that turn on peripheral vision, where red and blue dots on the edge of your screen represent what you’d see that’s out of view. There’s also a display somewhat like a radar screen that shows height, side and relationship. These aren’t considered cheats. They’re meant to compensate for the vision and experience lost by not being in a real cockpit.

The aircraft handling feels totally authentic, and each plane exhibits its own idiosyncrasies. An F-80 is a horse of an entirely different color from an F-86. These aren’t the super jets of today, able to stand on their tails. These jets have to be babied and pampered, or else they will punish with spins, flameouts and wrecked engines.

The graphics, music and sound have been well executed. The game engine will dynamically adjust the level of game detail to maintain the framerate a player sets. The game never becomes a slideshow no matter what happens onscreen. Until players get very close to the ground, it’s hard to tell they aren’t actually over some part of Korea.

There are few nits to pick. We would like to be able to completely change the key assignments on the joystick instead of only choosing the axes. For newbies and rusty fliers, having a gentler flight model on easy would help. But these are minor quibbles.

Mig Alley would be a great wargame if all it offered was the mission planning. It would be a great sim if all it offered was the instant action missions. As it stands, Mig Alley is one of the best sims ever released on any subject.

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