AVSIM Commercial Review
Modern Air Combat
Publisher: Ubi Soft
Combat Flight Simulator
23 MB Download
David Slavens - Senior Combat Reviewer
Dalibor “Dali” Jovanovic - Guest Combat Reviewer
Possible Commercial Rating Score:
1 to 5 stars with 5 stars being exceptional
Please see details of our review rating policy
If they gave an award for “Most Anticipated Sim of the
Year” Ubi Soft’s Lock On: Modern Air Combat (LOMAC)
would be among
the leading candidates for 2003. After a long (and sometimes anxious)
wait the baseline version of the sim hit the street in the U.S. in
November. If forum commentary can be used as a guide it was to decidedly
mixed reaction in the notoriously hard to please combat sim community. A
patch (Version 1.01) has since been issued for the U.S., U.K., French, and
German versions of the sim that addresses many of the issues associated
with the original release. This review is based on the patched version.
Although some additional individual user problems have been reported on
the forums as a result of installing the patch we recommend that you run
with this version to get the most functionality out of the sim.
With the departure of Jane’s Combat Simulation’s as a
serious player in the combat sim field,
LOMAC publisher Ubi Soft
has emerged as the heir apparent to the title of air combat sim leader
with its solid “IL-2 Sturmovik” and “IL-2: Forgotten Battles”
WWII based titles. Does LOMAC live up to the standard of its two
historical cousins? Is a king’s crown appropriate for this modern day
In this review we’ll take a look at those philosophical
questions as well as examine the detail of this ambitious effort to bring
the expansive world of “modern air combat” to life on your desktop
As befits a major sim release like this we here at Avsim
assembled a team of experienced combat simmers with real world military
aircraft experience to put LOMAC through its paces.
Managing Editor and lead reviewer
has been flying combat sims since the early 90’s and has 20 years of real
world military tactical flying experience. Senior Combat Sim reviewer
Dave Slavens is a current active duty Air Force member and a well
known participant in combat forums. Special guest reviewer Dalibor
“Dali” Jovanovic adds real world military jet trainer, general
aviation, and glider flying experience as well as an extensive simming
background going back to 1982 to the team.
splash screen that displays while LOMAC first loads up features the
F-15 together along with a mix of realistic background radio chatter
map of the area of operations in LOMAC. It’s the Crimean Peninsula,
Caucasus, and adjacent Black Sea region of Russia – the same area
covered by the earlier Flanker series of sims
Here’s what Bill, Dave, and Dali had to say.
& User Interface
The sim comes on a single CD which needs to be in the drive
to run the sim. For this review I did a clean install which is
straightforward and I encountered no installation hiccups on my test
system. The sim started up without any
hang ups. The install consumed about a
gig of hard drive space. Installation of the patch (a 23 MB download) was
similarly without incident.
Now comes the fun part. There are very extensive
configuration options within the sim for everything from realism to
graphics. By my count there were 5 major option configuration categories
with anything from 6 to 17 sub items per category. You can do the maths
you want to but the bottom line is that works out to a lot of combinations
and permutations. So what’s the point? Just this – when you first get
started expect to do a bit more trial and error in working thru these
options to arrive at the best configuration for your system than you do
with most sims. The screenshots below show the main user interface and
some of the options screens.
Unless you’re running with the very latest processor and
graphics technology you are pretty much guaranteed to have to make a bunch
of tradeoffs between performance and appearance/realism in LOMAC. Maxing
out all the settings and running with it most likely is not going to work
for you. So be prepared and don’t complain when it happens. Just for the
record the box recommended hardware requirements are:
P4 2.0 or AMD 1800 Ghz Processor
128 MB Video Card
DirectX 8.1 or higher
LAN or minimum 56 Kbs for Multiplayer
As you can see the review team’s test systems covered the
spectrum with Bill and Dali being below the processor spec and Dave being
interface screen is well designed and provides easy access to all of
the sim features. You can jump into any of the player flyable
aircraft and be up and flying with in a second with a bunch of
defenseless targets in the immediate area. A great way to get
familiar with the aircraft systems and weapons without fear of being
shot down while you learn.
features many different user selectable options to custom configure
the sim to your specific system. Be prepared to make tradeoffs to get
the optimum performance. “Scalability” is one of the good features of
shot of the graphics configuration screen shows the many user options
Bill's Computer System
Dave's Computer System
Dali's Computer System
Nvidia Ti4200 128MB
80GB Hard Drive
21" NEC Monitor
Windows XP Pro
Sound Blaster Soundcard
CH USB Yoke & Pedals
Flying Time: 12 Hours
512 PC 800 RDRam
NVIDIA 128 MB GF4 Ti4600
80GB Hard Drive
Windows XP Home
Sound Blaster Pro Soundcard
PFC Rudder pedals
Flying Time: 34 Hours
P4 1.5Ghz Processor
640 MB SDRAM
Radeon 9700 pro
20GB Hard drive
17" Samsung Monitor
Windows XP Professional
Sound Blaster Pro Sound Card
CH USB Fighterstick and Throttle
Flying Time: 13 Hours
Total Combined Flying Time:
In general the review team reported mostly smooth flying on
medium to medium/high settings with these rigs. Bill did experience some
occasional slowdowns in high intensity settings and Dave also had some
slowdowns as he reports later in the review.
Here’s what Dali had to say about performance on his test
system and a 3 Ghz machine he has access to: “On
over land and sea in the cockpit I was getting 16/20 fps, outside view 35
(average), over cities 10-12 fps, with a lot of action going on 10-15 fps
in the cockpit with
It was relatively smooth on
another machine I have access to – a P4 3 GHz and Ti4200 graphics card –
with all of the above fps increased by 50% average.
In terms of printed material, like most sims these days,
the documentation included in the LOMAC box is pretty basic. A 48 page
pamphlet style booklet focused on installation, configuration, use of the
interface, and the mission editor is in the box. There’s lots of good
info in this book but the type size is real small and hard to read against
the gray page background (at least for this reviewer’s tired old eyes) and
the mostly postage stamp size illustrations are of little or no use in my
opinion. Publishers need to understand that simmers want quality hard
copy documentation and are willing to pay good money to get it. Cutting
costs by skimping on the in box documentation is not the way to go.
“Build it and they will come” as the saying goes.
most likely what will happen if you don’t take the time to read the
documentation! “RTFM” is the way to avoid finding yourself in this
situation right off the bat.
A goodly section (18 pages) of the in box pamphlet is
devoted to the Mission Editor feature, which the pamphlet characterizes as
“the heart and soul of Lock On: Modern Air Combat.” The material presented
was in sufficient detail to get a basic understanding of how to use the
Mission Editor but the editor interface is not intuitive in my opinion,
I would like to have seen more “how to” examples. My comment would be
that experienced combat simmers will be able to figure it out fairly
quickly; novices won’t. Maybe some third parties will (or already have)
come to the rescue.
The good news is that in addition to the in box pamphlet
there is a downloadable 134 page detailed “Instruction Manual” in pdf
format that covers a lot of things in depth, has useable size color
illustrations, and is more in line with what you would expect from a major
sim publisher. You can download the 5.3 Mb Instruction Manual as well as
printable keystroke Quick Reference Cards (QRCs)
The Instruction Manual does a good job of covering the
aircraft systems, cockpits, weapons, and weapons employment with factual
and “how to” type write ups. There is no information in the Instruction
Manual on the sim interfaces or use of the Mission Editor or Fast Battle
Planner utilities. I did not see Tactical Communications covered
There’s also an extensive in game “Encyclopedia” with
illustrations and information on all of the air and ground objects in the
sim and the weapons. This is very detailed and useful information.
features an in depth Encyclopedia with info on all of the air,
ground, and sea objects you will encounter. Lots of good info here.
logbook records your LOMAC pilot career and achievements (medals and
promotions) or mistakes (like getting killed in action) as the case
For the really hard core crowd Ubi Soft, in conjunction
with third party publisher Digital Aspirin, has come out with a 300
page LOMAC add on manual reminiscent of the famed Falcon 4.0 Manual.
It’s available in a full color 3 ring tabbed leather binder or
downloadable form. You can check out and purchase this add on
I found the documentation to be uneven. The
downloadable Information Manual is very good; the in box booklet is
adequate, and hard core folks will have to purchase an add on to get their
detailed system info fix.
That said it’s extremely important to read all of the
documentation (including the Install “Readme” file and patch list of
features) before flying or attempting to employ weapons. This is a
complex sim even on the simplified settings and a “just jump in and fly”
attitude will almost certainly bite you in the form of head scratching and
frustration not to mention immediately being shot down by the bad guys.
There is no substitute for “RTFM.”
In terms of the setting and geography the action in LOMAC
takes place in and around Russia’s Crimean and Caucasus regions and the
surrounding Black Sea area. Basically it’s the same area covered by the
Flanker series. This is a relatively small area so transit times to the
mission area are short and you’re into the thick of combat pretty quickly
Combat revolves around NATO countries and former Soviet
republics in shifting alliances based on plausible current event political
and military scenarios as well as player selected groupings via the
Mission Editor and Fast Battle Planner modes. The timeframe is now with
aircraft being flown and weapons being employed by the respective air
The sim includes 8 player flyable aircraft (3 NATO and 5
Russian) and a very complete inventory of NATO and Russian AI air, ground,
and sea vehicles and air defense systems. The flyable aircraft are
representative of their country’s current frontline aircraft in the air
superiority and ground attack areas and include the U.S. F-15C and A-10A
and Russian Su-27, Su-33, MiG-29, and Su-25.
“Modern Air Combat” is the sub title of LOMAC. In my view
the key things that characterize air combat today are Beyond Visual Range
(BVR) air to air engagements, extreme aircraft performance and maneuvering
capability, comprehensive cockpit displays, increased air to air weapons
engagement and launch envelopes, precision guided air to ground munitions,
and very capable, high threat air defenses. All of these aspects are
modeled well in the LOMAC environment
shot of two U.S. F-15Cs gives you a good idea of the outstanding
external aircraft model detail found throughout LOMAC
model detail extends to AI aircraft as well player flyable models as
shown by this shot of a Russian AI Su24 inbound for a strike on a
are equally well detailed as shown by this shot of the U.S. nuclear
powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) – and check out
the water texture.
damage effects are very realistically displayed. This F-15C has had
an unsuccessful encounter with a flight of Su-27s.
Cockpit environments are crisp and allow for excellent visibility
while panning. In this shot an Su-27 plugs into an aerial tanker.
a good example of the outstanding sharpness and clarity of the
cockpit instruments as well as the 3D appearance rendered in all of
the LOMAC player flyable aircraft. These instruments are from the
objects, such as this Russian T80 tank, are as detailed as the
aircraft in the sim
But that’s the big picture. Moving the discussion down to
your individual desktop is
what we’re talking about here from a sim
environment viewpoint, and
is in the
large part the visuals – what is often
referred to dismissively as “eye candy” in the hard core combat sim
world. (We’ll cover the other key ingredient – the systems - a bit
later). What we’re discussing here would include such things as external
and internal aircraft views, cockpit detail, weather, surface objects, and
terrain depictions but would also include sounds and other sensory cues.
In other words, all the things that go together to create a convincing
representation of the real world on your display.
In spite of its “eye candy” tag the visual sim environment
is a vitally important element to the “suspension of disbelief” that is
necessary for any sim – be it flight, combat, or otherwise - to be really
successful. In general the more the environment can draw you in and get
you to forget – even for a few moments – that you are sitting at a desk
looking at a monitor the better it’s going to be at conveying the real
world experience. After all, a very large part of our every day
perception of the real world is visual.
To my eye the visuals in LOMAC are more than convincing.
They set new combat sim graphics rendering standards. All of the objects
– both the player flyable and AI aircraft – as well as the other sea, air,
and ground vehicles and objects - are drop dead gorgeous in terms of
appearance and detail. The cockpits and instruments are crisp and
detailed. The weapons and damage effects are convincing. The terrain you
fly over gives a very good sensation of real flight at low level with
trees, power lines, and buildings passing under your nose and rushing by
your wingtip. Probably the most stunning rendition is the sea water
texture. I almost felt the need to have a couple of towels close by to
keep my keyboard dry!
Since a picture is worth 1000 words check
out the screenshots above
show the stunning level of detail within LOMAC:
Flight Models & Handling
This MiG29A is one of the high performance Russian fighters depicted
in LOMAC. The Russians were pioneers in developing aircraft capable
of extreme maneuvers.
discussing the LOMAC flight models I’d like to begin with a few words on
how things got to where they are today.
Nick Grey, the boss of the Fighter Collection Company, located in Duxford,
UK, went to Moscow in search of a successful software company he could
invest some money in. He and A. Masalovich, who was working on an Su-27
Flanker simulator, quickly found a common language and together they
started a company called Eagle Dynamics Ltd (ED). A team quickly began to
form that included some members from TsAGI (the Central Aero-Hydrodynamics
Institute), who brought with them in depth knowledge and wide experience
in modern aerodynamics.
then, ED has worked on several software projects, but within the gaming
community they are known only as flight simulator developers. Their first
products Su-27 Flanker, and Flanker 2.0 won many hearts
among flight sim enthusiasts but those titles were not financially
successful enough. When Matt “Wags” Wagner came to UBI Soft and became the
Flanker 3 producer some things changed. The biggest novelty was the
introduction of a “relaxed” flight and weapons modelling option in hopes
that a broader market could be reached. Somewhere in the middle of beta
testing, ED tried to incorporate a so called an “alternative flight model”
as an option for the “hard-core crowd” but could not incorporate it
without causing serious problems to the enhanced Flanker 2 engine under
development. This lead to the LOMAC solution, which may be controversial
to some, but at the end of the day it works fine and most importantly, has
left the doors for improvement open.
Now to the
sim. I’m going to focus on the Russian air superiority aircraft but my
comments apply to all. As we’ve mentioned three Russian fighter aircraft
are simulated in LOMAC (the Su-27, Su-33, and Mig-29) which are well known
for their excellent handling characteristics, especially at low speeds and
extreme angles of attack. Manoeuvres like the Cobra, tail slide, and such
have become their trade-mark. Since the alternative flight model was not
going to be incorporated into the engine, an interim solution had to be
found, and it came in the shape of partially scripted flight modelling. It
is not used throughout the flight envelope though, but only in some
situations such as landing, the Cobra, and some others. The logic behind
this is – it is better to have partially scripted behaviour on critical
and supercritical angles of attack, where complex calculations for
aerodynamics would require too many CPU cycles, than low fps or even a
wrong flight path for the aircraft. Partially scripted behaviour has weak
areas – one is landing and the other is ground handling. On landing the
aircraft doesn’t behave like it should, i.e. a few inches before
touch-down it just drops to the runway and stays there glued. There is no
sign of the inertia you would expect in the real world. Ground handling
also doesn’t seem right. The planes taxi as if they were on rails and
there is no feel that you are moving 30 + tons of aluminium, titanium, and
fuel around. But, to be honest, those shortcomings do not seriously
disrupt the feel of the aircraft. Taxiing on the aprons is not what this
sim was meant to be. The real fun begins, when you kick the burners and
set the beasts into motion.
This Su33 is the naval aviation carrier based version of the Su-27.
The canard control surfaces forward of the wing leading edge provide
Acceleration at take of the Su-27, 33, and Mig-29 seems to be a bit
underdone. An empty Mig-29 should be airborne in 150 meters, but needs a
much longer take-off run in LOMAC. Without afterburner the take-off run is
often more than a mile and half long! But once in the air, the story takes
a completely different turn. LOMAC is the only flight sim besides the IL-2
series that really grasps the sensation of flight. Even without a force
feedback joystick it is possible to develop a gut feeling about the forces
acting on the airplane. When a stall is approaching, the whole cockpit
starts to tremble announcing that loss of lift will occur very soon. This
has been done so well that even a simmer without real life aviation
experience will develop a sense of the aerodynamic limitations of the
given airplane. This is very important, since computer simulations lack
proper clues (other than data on the screen, HUD and gauges) about that.
Acceleration and de-acceleration in the air seems realistic, but lacks
that extra touch, which would make the flight modelling even better. I’m
talking about simulation of drag, caused either by airbrakes, lowered gear
or weapons hanging from the wings. The different weight of the latter is
in (if you put more weight on one wing the airplane will have a roll
tendency to that side), but the extra drag makes the plane behave
differently as opposed to a “clean” airframe. Above all – the flight path
should be much more stable, which is not entirely the case in LOMAC. The
drag from airbrake slows the planes down alright, but the rest (gear,
weapons...) seem to have no influence on the aerodynamics. I may be
completely wrong here, but my experience with different types of aircraft
says, that they all fly differently with all aerodynamic devices engaged
compared to a clean configuration. Again, these are just the little things
one can notice, but have absolutely no influence on the enjoyment factor
the airframe causes dramatic changes in aircraft handling. If a crucial
part is damaged, the plane becomes uncontrollable. Moderate damage on
control surfaces makes the task of keeping the plane airborne very
difficult. It even depends which side is damaged – the airplane gets a
tendency to turn on either side. But if hydraulic lines are destroyed,
there is no alternative – time to eject. With no hydraulics you have no
means of moving the control surfaces. Eagle Dynamics has superbly
modelled the belly landing as well – it is possible to put a damaged bird
down either on a runway, taxiway or any other hardened surface. Such a
landing results in a show of sparks and a quick stop!
start-up is rather primitive and is even not described in the manual. It
is possible even to start one engine at the time. The spool-up time is
very realistic, but lacks some distinctive sounds (like making the spark
in the combustion chamber).
choose between two flight model modes – one is for “experts” and the other
for “newbie's”. If that is not enough, blackouts can be switched off,
invulnerability switched on and that will make the life of a beginning
fighter or fighter-bomber pilot much easier. The Easy flight model is much
more forgiving, but far from being totally dumbed down or even arcadish.
It just helps the less able cyber pilots to enjoy the passionate aerial
dogfights or tense air-to-ground sorties. With this choice users can
slowly change bit by bit from “newbie” to “expert” mode without fear of
having too many difficulties with both handling the aircraft and its
weapons. This is particularly demanding if one is sitting in the Russian
combat planes. But on the other hand – it gives more satisfaction.
the flight modelling in LOMAC bridges two banks of a wide river with great
success. On the one side there is of course die-hard flight modelling and
sheer fun on the other. And what is most important – they live beside each
other and not at their expense. This opens the possibility of having more
and more realistic combat flight simulators in future – if LOMAC and
similar games are going to sell well, this genre will not disappear. I
have no fears for that and I can’t wait for the next Eagle Dynamics
The shot shows the F15C
cockpit systems. The key system displays are the radar at the top
left and the TEWs at the top right.
We’re talking here about the depiction and representation
of the various air to air, air to ground, and ground to air weapons
systems contained in LOMAC as well as the sensor systems used for
detection, targeting, and guidance for these weapons. Overall I
would rate this area as very realistic.
LOMAC does an excellent job of representing the major
current weapons employed in air combat both air to air and air to ground
and giving the user a good feel for how these weapons are employed.
In addition there’s a very good depiction of the air defense environment
that modern combat pilots must operate in. Can you say “High
The weapon inventory that can be employed on the player flyable aircraft
is pretty comprehensive be it radar guided, infrared, laser,
electro-optical or plain old “dumb” iron bombs or unguided rockets.
In addition, there’s a very good and thorough discussion of the various
weapons and their employment as well as reference tables in the pdf
instruction manual. It would pay you great
dividends to read this material before trying to employ any of these even
if you are an experienced combat simmer.
If you don’t want to chance the realistic weapons and
sensor modes you can jump right to the “good stuff” of blowing up bad guys
by using the Easy Radar and Auto Lockon feature if you want to get into
action without the frustration and most likely fatal consequences of
fiddling with systems trying to figure them out while in the midst of
combat. Easy radar will show all friendly and enemy units around
your aircraft color coded and auto lock on will enable you to lock on to
and engage the nearest enemy target. Don’t be too proud to try this
even if you consider yourself to be an expert combat simmer because the
more realistic weapons and sensor modes will require some study to gain
In my experience the radar modeling and study necessary to correctly
in LOMAC is not quite to the level of detail in Falcon 4.0 but is
definitely challenging and will require you to correctly select the best
mode for your situation and practice to gain the reaction speed you will
need to stay alive.
The sim weapons and sensor modeling also gives you a good
feel for the relatively higher workload in Russian designed aircraft
versus their Western counterparts but make no mistake - modern air combat
s a high intensity endeavor in either environment. Correctly and
effectively employing the wide range of weapons and sensors in LOMAC is
most definitely a challenge that will test the most experienced simmer.
Current high angle off bore site weapons targeting and
launch, a technology pioneered by the Russians, is accurately depicted
and a key aspect of modern air to air combat. enabled in LOMAC.
Simmers tend to get hung up sometimes in arcane debates
about whether the representation and performance of both aircraft and
weapons conforms to the exact performance numbers in the real world. I
think this misses the point. A good sim gives you the feel for the weapon
– this one has a longer range than that one or whatever the relative
Overall, from this perspective I found the weapons and
sensors modeled in LOMAC to be very representative of the relative
performance and effectiveness of their real world counterparts. In my
view that’s a pretty good endorsement for any combat sim.
Compare this shot of the
Su33 cockpit to the F15C. LOMAC does a good job of conveying the
relatively higher workload in Russian designed aircraft with fewer and
less sophisticated electronic displays than Western fighters.
This shot shows an F15C
with the “Easy Radar” option selected. This gives a simplified, color
coded top down display which shows all surrounding friendly and enemy
targets. Using this feature is a very good way to more easily engage
targets and to get familiar with the aircraft weapon system employment
before trying the more realistic radar modes.
Weapons modeling in LOMAC
gives a good depiction of the real world employment of both air to
air and air to ground weapons. In this shot an AI B-52H has just
launched an anti ship AGM84A “Harpoon” cruise missile.
This shot shows the
missile in cruise flight. Notice the 14 meter altitude above the
water – designed to come in low under the radar detection zone of the
target’s defensive systems
Just as the real weapon does at about 2 Km range from the target the
missile “pops up” for a high angle dive to both evade defenses and
provide maximum damage upon impact
Training Missions, Mission Editor, and the Fast Battle Planner (FBP)
This shot shows an example of a training mission in the F15C. The
instructor’s comments and explanations are presented as text. You can
go through the entire session or you can take control of the aircraft
at any time.
Included with LOMAC are 4 mini campaigns totaling 27 missions. I call them
mini as they’re brief tastes of what one can do with the mission/campaign
editor which I will go into later. There is an A-10 campaign consisting of
7 missions, an F-15 campaign of 7 missions, an SU-25 campaign of 6
missions, and finally the Su-27 campaign of 7 missions. I flew the A-10
and the Su-25. The A-10 campaign was fun, and not to difficult to win. The
Su-25 was more of a challenge as the plane itself has no fancy MFD’s,
gadgets etc. So in addition to learning the plane I was trying to keep
from getting my can shot off. So if you are looking for a challenge, try
the Su-25 campaign first. I am in the middle of the F-15 campaign and I am
having a heck of a time winning it. In one mission you have to cover some
A-10’s, well no matter how many times I get the Mig’s before they get to
the A-10’s I can’t seem to win the mission. This brings me to my next
point, getting to the next mission stage. In order to do that you must
successfully complete the previous mission. Some people have heart burn
with that and I can understand that, however in
real life you must complete a mission before going to
the next one! If you don’t complete it you will
hit that target until you do. You can’t half ass it, a partial success
doesn’t cut it either. If a target has to go then it has to go. Any
tactical planner would tell you the same.
I didn’t like the fact in the campaign you couldn’t choose
your own load outs, as I didn’t agree with some of the load outs that were
given. However I talked to Matt Wagner and he stated that this would be
fixed in the patch.
Frame rates in the campaign are not bad on my computer
which is a 2.4 GHz, P4 with 512 RD RAM and a 128 MB GF4 Ti4600. However I
did get stutter and anyone with a low end machine may have some
difficulties with the amount of objects in the campaign. Again it was
stated that with the patch, the campaign will be optimized for low end
Overall the campaigns were not bad. Need to be longer? Yes.
Would LOMAC benefit from a dynamic campaign? Big time!
The Fast Battle Planner (FBP) is something that can really
extend the life of LOMAC. It is easy to use and that is what a lot of
users want. You can set the weather, time, distance, height, and loadouts
of your plane. You can add ground units to attack, or make it just air to
air. There is an endless amount of combinations a user can choose. I did
have a few problems with it though. When I chose winter terrain it stayed
on the summer terrain. Also when I chose the A-10 to fly and put missiles
as its loadout it gave me bombs. I think that is a bug for sure. So if you
haven’t ventured into the way the Mission Editor works then starting with
the FBP is an excellent place to start.
If you rather not mess with the FBP, then when you fire up
LOMAC there are 6 quick start missions all ready to go. Just hit fly. This
I found out is a real excellent place to start to learn the weapons system
etc without getting your can shot off. I find myself going back to them
often to try different things outs. A good example would be Andy Bush’s
article on using the A-10’s weapons systems in LOMAC. This can be found
here. Using the A-10
quick mission I tested out those techniques to help gain a better
understanding of how to employ the A-10. So I recommend using the quick
missions as a good area to start learning how to use your arsenal of
Also included in LOMAC are a myriad of training missions
for your viewing pleasure. By viewing pleasure I mean they are
tracks recorded in which you just sit and watch how to do something. The
entire training missions are in depth but they suffer from a serious flaw.
No voice over, I found myself having to pause often to read the text and
then un-pausing to see what the instructor was talking about. After awhile
that gets old. But that is the training mission’s only flaw in my opinion.
The depth of the instruction was good though and gave you a concise way to
employ your weapons, land your plane, or to even taxi. I found that the
F-15 training on using your AMRAAM, AIM-7, is one of the best training
missions in the bunch. Mark Shepard went into great detail on how to use
your weapons correctly. There is also a bonus in the training mission that
can not go unsaid. In the F-15 training it shows him beaming an incoming
AA-10C and causing it to break its lock. If you know how to use your A2A
missiles in LOMAC, that is great. However you need to watch it just to
watch his beaming technique. The other excellent training mission is on
how to use your weapons when flying the Su-25. Since the entire cockpit of
the Su-25 is analog, no fancy avionics, then knowing how to use your laser
guided weapon on the Froggy makes this tutorial a must. In fact using this
training mission is what is getting me through the Su-25 campaign now. My
advice? Go through that before you start the campaign, keeps your can in
place instead of riding the silk elevator because you couldn’t figure out
how to shoot a missile.
Nothing extends the life of a combat sim like a good
Mission Editor. In the old Flanker 2.0/2.51 days I made a slew of them. In
fact I made more missions than I spent time flying. The Mission Editor in
LOMAC only builds off the fantastic editor of the Flanker series. First of
all, there are more objects than you can imagine. The only limitations are
your imagination. You want to set up a US Navy Carrier Battle group vs a
Russian Surface Action Group, you can. You want a pinpoint strike of
B-1B’s coming in low to hit an enemy headquarters, you can. Want civilian
traffic on roads or cargo ship moving goods around the Black Sea, you can.
You can control the weather like never before. You want to take off in 0
Vis during a snow storm, you can do it. How about a thunderstorm with
lightning and lots and lots of rain……….oh and lets add strong wind and
turbulence. You can do it. Now that you’ve done that, take off in it. Go
ahead, I dare ya. Also the terrain size is huge, twice as much land than
in the Flanker series. That can make for some long missions in which you
can do some aerial refueling. I literally can not even begin to touch the
ability of this very powerful tool.
Setting up your missions to run right takes time. I am
still making sure I have targets selected, mission goals, load outs done
in a campaign I am making for LOMAC. You can very easily forget to do
that, test your mission and find your plane without weapons. Or you set up
some targets and didn’t assign anyone to attack them. So there is a
learning curve, all you have to do is dig in and see what’s what.
Something the editor is lacking is triggers or flags that some editors
have. If they are in there I haven’t found them. Triggers/flags basically
tell the sim that if this target gets attacked or this plane goes here,
then there will be this response by the sim to do this or that. That adds
for an element of surprise and gives a mission life. I have yet to find is
the ability to set up a branching campaign. Basically a branching
campaign’s missions are set up that if you pass or fail them then it
affects the outcome of other missions. As it stands right now you can make
linear campaigns, but that element of surprise is what make the difference
in a campaign. The best instance of a branching campaign goes back to
Jane’s F/A-18E, in which that campaign editor was found accidentally by a
simmer. I am hoping there is a way to do that in LOMAC and it has not been
This shot shows a
formation of 4 F15Cs. I’ve just given the close formation command and
the wingmen have closed up. Unfortunately they did so from a trail
formation in about 1 second so this area needs a little work. Things
don’t happen that fast in real life.
The Fast Battle Planner utility lets you get into action quickly by
selecting the type mission and enemy units you’d like to face.
he included Mission Editor is very sophisticated and gives you the
ability to build pretty much unlimited variety into the sim. We would
like to have seen more “how to” examples in the documentation but
overall this is one of the key features that makes LOMAC stand out
from the pack.
Here you can see one of the comm menus displayed. There’s a pretty
good number of communications commands and
functions but no explanation of them that we see
in the sim
One of the best things I have discovered about the editor
is that you can set up some serious ground wars and watch them unfold.
Tanks engaging each other, helos attacking vehicle convoys and so forth.
Set up some good dog fights and watch the AI duke it out. Then record
these epic battles and show them to your friends. Add music to them and
you got yourself a homemade war movie.
In conclusion, all the above helps make LOMAC a well
rounded combat flight sim. The Mission Editor, Campaigns, Training
Missions are not without there small issues but these small issues do not
affect the playability of LOMAC. I encourage you to dig into these things
and see what they are about. I think you will be pleased.
One of the areas that I’ve found that’s generally lacking
in realism in most combat sims is in the way they implement tactical
communications – that applies to both the way the audio sounds in the sim
as well as the accompanying text that implements available commands and
information exchange between cooperating units.
Listen to the background audio on the LOMAC loading screen.
That’s real stuff and it’s how aircrews actually talk in real operational
situations. Unfortunately, sim developers often tend to short circuit
this aspect of a sim and go with what I’ll call the Tom Cruise “Top Gun”
movie type comm – it provides great dramatic entertainment but has very
little to do with the real world.
Fortunately LOMAC has avoided the Hollywood approach to
audio. Although the tactical radio audio from wingmen and other units
such as AWACs still has a lot of the typical computer AI voice inflection
at least the responses are phrases and responses you would expect to
encounter in real operational situations. There’s also a lot of
background radio chatter in combat which adds to the information that you
have to process and react to in the cockpit so that’s a real world aspect
that’s reflected in LOMAC.
In addition to the tactical audio coming out of your
speaker there’s a fairly extensive menu of radio communications commands
in LOMAC that are called up by keystroke. Curiously there was no
discussion of these commands or their use that I saw in any of the LOMAC
documentation other than a list of the basic radio commands on the
keystroke QRCs. This is unfortunate because the use of tactical comm. is
how you get the most out of your wingmen and other cooperating units to
accomplish your mission as well as keep yourself in the tactical
picture. A discussion of how and when you use the various commands, what
the expected response is, and an explanation of some of the comm. terms
you hear thrown around on the air would be a welcome addition. In this
regard LOMAC seems to me to have followed the general combat sim trend of
giving this important element of air combat fairly short shrift. Almost
like its inclusion was an afterthought.
But there is good news! The response of wingmen to “Tight formation”
commands was instantaneous! In an external view my formation of 4
F15Cs closed up in less than a second. Too bad things don’t work
that fast in the real world!
Overall I would rate the tactical comm. environment in LOMAC as “so so”
in terms of realism. Developers reading this might want to take a
note: pay more attention to this area.
LOMAC has the capability to be played over the Internet or
on a Local Area Network (LAN) with up to 32 players on a LAN and at least
6 over the net.
Unfortunately none of our review team had the connection
net bandwidth or access to a LAN with other players to give this
capability an extensive workout. We note the capability and rate it as a
neutral area for this review.
LOMAC delivers on
its title of “Modern Air Combat” by introducing the simmer to all aspects
of that expansive topic. If you fly the various aircraft, employ the
weapons, and fight through the campaigns you will have an excellent
introduction to the state of air combat in 2004. You won’t learn to fly
an F-15C or an Su-27 but YOU WILL have a very good feel for the relative
real world performance and pros and cons of these and the other aircraft
contained in LOMAC when you’re done. That’s a real achievement in our
Overall we were in unanimous agreement at rating LOMAC at 4
out of 5 stars. To give you some background on how we do things in the
Avsim methodology of rating payware packages achieving a 4-Star rating is
very difficult. To achieve a 5-Star rating is not only difficult, it
requires that a product incorporate ground breaking technology and advance
the frontiers of simming. LOMAC is not groundbreaking in its technology
but it certainly ranks with the very best available current technology
combat sim products. We can and do recommend it to any serious combat
simmer without hesitation.
more information, screenshots, and to download a demo go to the LOMAC