Pages Menu

Categories Menu

Posted on Aug 26, 2010 in Electronic Games

Lock On Modern Air Combat: Platinum – PC Game Review

By Rod White

Lock On Modern Air Combat: Platinum. PC Game Review. Eagle Dnamics/The Fighter Group. $19.99.

Passed Inspection. Gorgeous visuals. Extremely accessible. Variety of airframes. Excellent replay value with the new mission editor and online multiplayer options. Links with DCS Black Shark online.

Failed Basic. Failed Basic. Digital rights management requires an Internet connection to activate it. Extremely long loading times, even with 8GB of RAM.

If something can be done in a modern military aircraft, chances are you can do it in LOMAC Platinum.

The original Lock On: Modern Air Combat (LOMAC) is a successor of the critically acclaimed Su-27 Flanker series of ultra-realistic Russian modern military aircraft simulations. LOMAC Platinum, also developed by Eagle Dynamics/The Fighter Collection and published by Ubisoft, includes all of what made LOMAC a hit, and takes it even further by adding the recently released Flaming Cliffs 2 add-on.

{default}

LOMAC Platinum is a survey simulation, which models a variety of different aircraft, instead of a study simulation, which would model and focus completely on a single aircraft. In most cases survey simulations tend to be a lot less realistic than a study simulation, due to the fact that the developers have to split their development efforts among a variety of aircraft. With LOMAC that was never the case, which is why LOMAC was as much revolutionary as it was evolutionary upon its initial release. It’s as realistic as most study simulations, but scalable enough that it can be accessible like a traditional survey simulation.

The aircraft modeled that are player flyable in LOMAC Platinum include the F-15C Eagle, A-10A Warthog, Su-27 Flanker, Su-33 Sea Flanker, Su-25 Frogfoot, Su-25T Improved Frogfoot, MiG-29A Fulcrum and MiG-29C Improved Fulcrum. There’s literally over a hundred other AI models in the simulation as well, on the ground, in the air, and on the sea.

This variety of aircraft also offers a nice balance of air superiority fighter aircraft, and ground pounding beasts. Among the latter is the Su-25 Frogfoot, a modern day version of the WWII–era IL2 Sturmovik, which is Russia’s answer to the A-10 Warthog. Both are amazing close air support (CAS) aircraft.

The F-15C is still one of America’s best fixed-wing aircraft available today, with a 100:0 kill ratio. The Su-27 Flanker was initially developed to combat the F-15, and is quite formidable itself. The Su-33 Sea Flanker, as the name implies, is the naval variant, which is carrier ops ready. The MiG-29 Fulcrum is an amazing short-range fighter, sharing much of the same avionics and capabilities as the Su-27.

Each of the aircraft is amazingly detailed, complete with 3D cockpits, all of which have every proper button, dial and switch modeled. The exterior 3D models are equally as impressive: if you didn’t know any better, at the right angle or distance you could easily believe you were staring at a photograph of an F-15C, instead of a 3D model in a PC flight simulation. Once in the air, peering over your shoulder down at the world below, you find nothing but photo-realistic terrain as far as the eye can see. During a night mission when on the ground, you can even turn on taxi lights, which looks fantastic.

All the graphics bells and whistles are quite scalable. Even the recommended requirements calls for no more than an Intel Core 2 Duo/AMD X2, 3GB of RAM and a 512MB ATI 4850 or Nvidia 8800 graphics card. The minimum requirements only call for a P4 2.4GHz, 2GB RAM and a 256MB DirectX 9.0 compatible video card. My only gripe is the extremely long loading times in-between screens. Even with 8GB of memory, the loading times are pretty brutal.

Installation only takes up 6GB of hard drive space. While the original LOMAC had no copy protection at all, Lock On Platinum’s Flaming Cliffs 2 part of the package does require Internet activation. The game box contains a CD version of the original LOMAC 1.01, and a DVD with the entire Flaming Cliffs 2 add-on; you simply install one on top of the other. You’re also left with two separate launch icons, one for LOMAC version 1.01, and one for LOMAC Flaming Cliffs 2. Therefore, Platinum is really two complete simulations in one.

The realism is also scalable. If you fly with the realism of each option cranked the max, you better know how to work the avionics and how to fly the real plane modeled, or you’ll be in big trouble in no time. Every single radar mode of each plane is modeled in detail, with all the various HUD modes. If full-blown realism is too much for you, there’s always the option to dumb things down. You can keep the realistic flight modeling, but opt for less realism in avionics and missile effectiveness. It’s your call; this is a very accessible simulation.

Even with the options to dumb things down, LOMAC still has a learning curve. If you’ve flown other modern-day military aviation PC simulations, you’re probably familiar with US or NATO aircraft, which are usually of US origin, and with AIM-120 long-range missiles and the AIM 7 Sparrow medium-range missiles. Many players know that an AIM-9 Sidewinder is the rear-aspect short-range weapon of choice, but won’t know what the heck an R-27, R-77 or an R-73 is or what each of the HUD modes are in the Russian aircraft—because they’re represented in Cyrillic characters. However, if you opt for easy mode avionics, everything is easier to decipher, as it will say simply GUN, or BVR at the bottom of the HUD in English. You still need to read up on what missile is best for which task, as things are very different in the Russian planes.

It’s pretty daunting at first, but once you learn what HUD mode is for NAV and which is for air-to-air, you’ll remember them because, like anything else, practice makes perfect. I will say this—once you sit down and fly a successful mission in one of the Russian aircraft, you will definitely feel like you’ve accomplished something.

There are some definite advantages to flying the Russian aircraft. For instance the Su-27, MiG-29 and Su-33 all have an Electro-Optical system, which they can use instead of radar. This system doesn’t emit radar signals, making them less detectable and more lethal at range than most. The Russian aircraft are also much simpler in design. There are fewer bells and whistles in the cockpit, because they didn’t have the big budgets of their Western counterparts. They spent their money more wisely and focused on bringing the pain and on the survivability of the airframe.

If something can be done in a modern military aircraft, chances are you can do it in LOMAC Platinum. Want to practice landing on an aircraft carrier? No problem, load up the Su-33 and give it a shot. The Su-25 and A-10 both handle like a school bus, as they should at low speed when fully loaded, but either can swoop in and deliver a ground fireworks show like no other. Nothing relieves stress like unloading an entire payload from either of those airframes on ground threats and limping away to tell about it.

Want to see who truly is the Beyond Visual Range (BVR) king? Set up a mission going head to head in an F-15C versus a Su-27 or MiG-29 to see who is the last man standing—uh, flying. There’s quick mission tool, in addition to a full-blown, newly improved mission editor. Flaming Cliffs 2 even lets you add scripted events to your own player-created missions, which makes an already fantastic mission editor now legendary.

The original LOMAC comes with a campaign in the Crimean Peninsula. In Flaming Cliffs 2 this is replaced by the new Georgia campaign region. Therefore, all the original LOMAC missions and campaigns are included, in addition to what Flaming Cliffs 2.0 adds. The original LOMAC included 4 campaigns, and about 5 single missions for each of the aircraft. LOMAC Flaming Cliffs 2 offers 7 different campaigns, and the single missions option provides 7–10 missions for each of the 8 aircraft included.

Mutiplayer is also part of the package, and—Good news!—LOMAC Platinum is fully compatible for head-to-head and cooperative missions with DCS Blackshark (Blackshark owners need to download a free patch to enable this). It’s quite exhilarating getting a kill online with the realism options on because most of the online crowd are hardcore simulation enthusiasts who play for keeps. The multiplayer performance is rock solid, too.

The entire Flaming Cliffs 2 interface now matches that of DCS Blackshark. Gone is the simple and generic looking interface of the original LOMAC. Another new feature I really find useful is completely separate controller configurations for each of the different aircraft. I don’t recommend thinking you can get by with a mouse and the keyboard; this is a simulation, and a joystick with a throttle lever/dial and twisting rudder action is the very least I’d recommend. Anything less will dull the experience, and is counterproductive.

LOMAC Platinum is definitely a major improvement over all previous versions of LOMAC, including the Gold Edition. If you’re looking for the best modern-day military survey aircraft simulation you can get, the best just got better, and here’s the deal-sealer: LOMAC Platinum costs just $19.99! This very well might be the best value in PC military aviation combat simulations that we’ve seen to date.

For the extremists, there’s also a separate Flaming Cliffs 2 extended flight manual you can purchase for $29.99. This is a 308-page, spiral-bound manual you can buy direct from Eagle Dynamics, which covers in great detail how to operate each aircraft via the most realistic options. There’s also a tactical chart for $24.99, which is a huge aeronautical map of the entire Georgia region in which LOMAC Flaming Cliffs 2 and DCS Blackshark takes place.

Armchair General Score: 93%

About the Author:

Rod White is a veteran writer with almost two decades’ experience covering games, hardware, military aviation and combat simulations for the PC, as well as diecast collectibles and various tabletop miniatures war games. Formerly co-founder and owner of PC Multimedia & Entertainment Magazine, one of the Internet’s first true online gaming publications to cover PC games, simulations and hardware, he also hosted the ground-breaking RealVideo/RealAudio show called CombatReporterLive! for the AllGamesNetwork/Pseudo, Inc.

2 Comments

  1. hi, great review, but the initially announced ‘Extremely accessible’ feature is unexplained… I have the first of this series and it was hard, too hard. Will this version help me?
    thanks!

  2. Can you buy it online for $19.99? Their online shop is $29.99

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *