Flew the Tomcat in the Persian Gulf. All the good things I heard about this new DCS fighter are true. This is not a DLC, it's an 80's military aviation experience.
The following material was generated with a preview copy kindly provided by Heatblur Simulations. All the features and visuals should be considered as a work in progress.
The F-14 needs no introduction. This carrier-based long range interceptor entered service for the US Navy in 1974, and remained in duty until 2006. Originally conceived as a fighter, it was later used in air to ground mission. Depicted in the cultural-icon movie Top Gun, the Tomcat's silver screen appearance only added to its military aviation legend status.
Heatblur, the makers of the great DCS: AJS37 Viggen module have gone above and beyond with the Tomcat. The high amount of completed features, systems and weapons of this early access module is a fresh departure from many of the recent DCS offerings.
The visuals are stunning. The 3D modeling of the aircraft and the cockpit is exquisite. The wear of the panels, the creaks and snaps of switches and buttons, the thuds of the landing gear getting deployed and the sound of weapons getting detached from the airframe. It feels so authentic, that I wouldn't be surprised to see dust lifted from the cracks in the cockpit during a negative G maneuver.
The attention to detail is awe-inspiring because this is not an easy aircraft to simulate. Starting from the flight model and all the way down to the avionics, targeting systems and weapons, the endeavor of getting this DLC to this stage must have been colossal. Taking the time to add minuscule details like having the the most important commands to my HOTAS by default speaks volumes of how much Heatblur loves their customers.
The Tomcat is all raw power. I have performed takeoffs and climbed like I stole the thing. Top dog without even breaking a sweat! As a BVR fighter, I find it an ruthless enforcer of the law of missile salvos (the payload you can get airborne with this bird is phenomenal) . When things get close and personal, it is no slouch either. Yes, what you read about departures, wing rocking and other flying hazards is true. Yes, you will need to get busy with your rudder and reclaim those airmanship skills you surrendered to that FCS-fly by wire airframe of yours. After that, the F-14 burns and turns competently, just don’t forget to fly it! Aerodynamic hysteresis, asymmetric vortex interactions for slender deltas and inertial cross coupling be damned, you are a combat pilot or what?
One of the most interesting features of this DLC is the computer-fueled RIO (AKA Jester). It is a very interesting contextual system that works like a charm in duplicating the in-cockpit team work. The chats with Jester can be funny at times (some of his lines are hilarious), but most importantly the implementation of the system is very well thought. More details will be available in future postings. It's not only what he says but also the way he twists and moves in the backseat. It adds a different dimension to the simulation: the head movements scanning the unfriendly skies, the grabs to the dashboard and handles when he needs the support. NPCs can be uncanny, but I can’t help but liking this guy for what he does and what he says.
There is certainly so much to share at this point that I would have to quit my day job and write eight hours a day to come up with just the first impressions. Fortunately, an abundant amount of material is already available in YouTube, in the official forums and in the online manual.
I leave you in company of some screenshots. Videos and new blog posts coming soon.