|Genre(s)||Combat flight simulator|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Falcon 3.0 is a combat flight simulator video game developed by Sphere Inc. and published by Spectrum HoloByte in 1991 as third official main entry in the Falcon series of the F-16 Fighting Falcon simulators.
Falcon 3.0 was claimed to have used flight dynamics from a real military simulator, and required a math coprocessor to enable the high fidelity flight mode. Even in less demanding modes, it was still virtually unplayable on computers slower than a 386. The recommended configuration was a 33 MHz 486, a top end machine at this time.
Falcon 3.0 offered "padlock" view, in which the player's POV is slewed in the direction of a selected target, scanning around the cockpit if necessary. It also offered players more natural looking topography than other commercial PC flight simulations at the time—with mountains, hills, valleys and other features having their own unique shapes.
An expansion pack Operation Fighting Tiger was released in 1992. It contains several additional scenarios, including a future skirmish between Japan and Russia, which gave the player the Japanese F-16 variant, the "FSX".
Two more expansions were released in 1993: MiG-29: Deadly Adversary of Falcon 3.0 and Hornet: Naval Strike Fighter.
Art of the Kill, a video tutorial that teaches aerial dogfighting basics used Falcon 3.0's built-in ACMI recorder to reconstruct engagements, explains tactics and counter-tactics. Falcon 3.0 was also the subject of dozens of aftermarket books, some written by actual F-16 pilots. Only the Microsoft Flight Simulator series spawned more books.
The game was re-released in 1994 as Falcon Gold a compilation which included Art of the Kill video digitized on the CD collection, along with Operation Fighting Tiger and the announcement for Falcon 4.0. It noted for their early multiplayer support, as even the first version supported two players via a null modem serial port connection.
Falcon 3.0 sold 400,000 copies by March 1995. Including its expansions, the full "Falcon 3.0 line" surpassed 700,000 copies in sales by December 1998. According to GameSpot, "Falcon 3.0 sold well for years after its initial release, and add-on products extended its longevity."
Falcon 3.0 received 5 out of 5 stars in Dragon. In 1992 a Vermont Air National Guard F-16 pilot stated in Computer Gaming World that the game's flight model and avionics were very accurate, and praised the game's VGA graphics. He concluded that Spectrum HoloByte had created "the best flight simulator yet". A survey in the magazine that year of wargames with modern settings gave the game four and a half stars out of five, describing Falcon 3.0 as "not so much a game system as it is a way of life. Possibly the most complex air simulator ever released for the commercial sector", and the magazine named it the year's best simulation game. In 1996, the magazine ranked Falcon 3.0 as the tenth best computer game of all time for its introduction of "the first truly realistic flight model" for a jet aircraft and for adding "the useful (and necessary) wingmen and the first truly dynamic flight sim campaign," as well as the seventh most innovative computer game for setting "a standard for realism and connectivity that is only now being surpassed." That year, Falcon Gold was also ranked as the 80th top game of all time by Next Generation, for being "the most exacting computer simulation created."
In 1994, PC Gamer US named Falcon 3.0 the 15th best computer game ever. The editors wrote, "There are a lot of jet simulations on the market, but none can really touch Spectrum Holobyte's Falcon 3.0 for sheer realism. The flight models are all so detailed, so unnervingly realistic, that you'll gain new respect for the men and women who fly these birds for a living." In 1996, Next Generation listed Falcon 3.0 Gold as number 80 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time", commenting that, "Though it is bemoaned as one of the most demanding flight sims ever, Spectrum HoloByte's uncompromising simulation of the F-16 Fighting Falcon also manages to reign supreme as the most exacting computer simulation created. And as one of the first multiplayer combat simulations ever released, Falcon has managed to build a fanatical following of online pilots." CNET Gamecenter named Falcon 3.0 one of the 10 most innovative computer games ever.
Despite many bugs (Computer Gaming World reported that "some readers have suggested that we give Falcon 3.0 the award for 'The Buggiest Game Ever'"), Falcon 3.0 retained its reputation as the most realistic flight simulation for years.
- Pelit - Feb, 1992
- PC Joker - Feb, 1992
- Power Play - Jan, 1992
- Computer Gaming World - Jun, 1992
- Game Bytes - May 06, 1992
- Play Time - Mar, 1992
- Score - Feb, 1994
- ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) - Mar, 1992
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