Chuck Yeager's Air Combat
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|Chuck Yeager's Air Combat|
Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, often shortened as CYAC, is a 1991 combat flight simulator video game by Electronic Arts. Famed pilot Chuck Yeager was a technical consultant in the game and his digitized voice is featured in the game, giving encouragement and praise before and after missions. The game is characterized for its good balance of an action laden gameplay which focuses on classical dog fights and a simple but still realistic flight model.
The game was initially available for DOS, and later ported to the Apple Macintosh. The latter version is considered superior as its graphical display is at a much higher resolution, multi-player network play is supported, and saved movies may be exported in QuickTime format.
The game featured six player-flyable aircraft: P-51D Mustang, F-86E Sabre, F-4E Phantom II, Fw.190A-8, the Soviet MiG-15 'Fagot' and MiG-21MF 'Fishbed'. Other featured AI-driven aircraft were: Me.109E, Me.110B, Me-163B Komet, Me-262 Schwalbe, P-47D Thunderbolt, Yak-9, MiG-17MF 'Fresco' and F-105D Thunderchief as opposing fighters and B-17E, B-29C, B-52 and L-5 as aircraft to either protect or shoot down, depending on the mission.
Unlike many other flight simulation games of its day, altitude and aircraft characteristics have a big influence on the behaviour of the game's simulated aircraft. Many missions take place at the limits of the aircraft's performance, challenging the player to keep the plane within its flight envelope. For instance, the opening Historical mission as a Luftwaffe pilot pits their Fw 190 against the group of unescorted B-17s, but at an altitude that makes even basic flying difficult.
Realism has been sacrificed to some degree to enhance gameplay, however, e.g., a real fighter plane expends all of its ammunition after a few short bursts, while in Chuck Yeager's Air Combat the rate of fire has been reduced considerably, making dog fights longer. To assist a newcomer to the game several help features can be activated, such as unlimited ammunition or easier aiming. A virtual Chuck Yeager can be activated, who gives advice.
Because of the limited graphics capabilities of software and hardware of the time, the aircraft are generally given block paint schemes of white, silver, black, and grey representing the major flight surfaces of the aircraft. While simple, the game did receive accolades for its graphical representation of the aircraft being depicted, as a majority of the airplanes involved did actually use similar schemes at one point or another (for example, the P-51 is overall silver with white and darker grey representing sun glare and shadows).
Three different fly modes were available: Free Flight, which put the user in a selected airplane in a non-hostile environment; Create a Mission, where the user could specify which airplane to pilot against a selected number of AI-driven aircraft of varying levels of difficulty; and Historical Flight, where user could select among three wars to fly in: World War II, Korean, and Vietnam.
All missions are based upon actual missions ranging from strafing attacks of WWII, the open dogfights of modern air warfare, and the combat missions of Vietnam, which included bomber escorts. The name of the actual pilot involved and the outcome of the encounter are told to the player, as a way for the player to judge air combat prowess (though it did not affect the overall scoring). This feature separated the game from other similar games of its time, and influenced future work on later flight simulations. However, large, famous battles in the wars are not included (for example, there are no D-Day, Pearl Harbor, or Battle of Britain missions). For World War II, the missions are based solely on the European Theater of Operations.
The Campaign mode could be started by including the CAMPAIGN argument with the DOS command to start the game. In this mode, the player must successfully complete the missions in each war in order. Upon successful completion, a mission is marked with a small red box and the next mission then becomes available for selection and play. (In some versions, the first "page" of missions for a war is available for flying, allowing for the first three missions to be flown out of order.)
Campaign mode is quite a bit more difficult than completing Historical Missions individually. In order to successfully complete the missions, a player must land at his home base, which means that it may be necessary to destroy considerably more enemy aircraft than normal in order to ensure a safe return. Additionally, death resulting from being killed in action means that no more missions may be attempted on that file (the player must start a new file). Ejecting before being killed in action allows the player the possibility of attempting the mission again; however, if the ejection occurs over enemy territory there is a possibility of being captured, which then also prevents any other missions from being completed.
Computer Gaming World in 1991 said that the game's graphics and flight models impressed a Vietnam War combat pilot, and predicted that it would be "popular with both flight sim veterans and newcomers". A survey in the magazine that year of strategy and war games gave it four and a half stars out of five, and a 1993 survey in the magazine of wargames gave the game three-plus stars. In 1996, the magazine ranked it as the 35th best PC game of all time.
The game influenced the genre of combat flight simulators, including multi-player games such as Air Warrior by Kesmai and Combat Flight Simulator by Microsoft Games. Later games by Electronic Arts used the more popular features in its jet-based games US Navy Fighters and others.
- Sipe, Russell (July 1991). "When do Seven Gs Only Cost $59.95? When It's...". Computer Gaming World. p. 16. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Brooks, M. Evan (November 1991). "Computer Strategy and Wargames: The 1900-1950 Epoch / Part I (A-L) of an Annotated Paiktography". Computer Gaming World. p. 138. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Brooks, M. Evan (September 1993). "Brooks' Book of Wargames: 1900-1950, A-P". Computer Gaming World. p. 118. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- CGW 148: 150 Best Games of All Time