Stormovik Su-25. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Richard Sheffield
So you think you've finally mastered modern air combat. You can spout information about Snakeyes, Rockeyes, and Walleyes like an ordnance chief. But what would you do with a Betab-250 or a ZAB-500? You won't find these weapons hanging on a hardpoint of an F-16 or Stealth Fighter, and details on how to use them are written with Cyrillic letters. This stuff belongs to the other side.
Stormovik SU-25 creates a whole new world of Soviet weapons, acronyms, and terms. Just the thing to humble an overconfident jet jock. Starting with the new aircraft, there are plenty of things to learn. The SU-25 is a superb ground-attack aircraft, a real bomb truck. Comfortable at low or high speed, it can deliver anything from unguided rockets to laser-guided antitank missiles. Built for low-level attacks, it will frequently take you down in the weeds at less than 50 meters.
The premise for the game is unlikely but not altogether impossible. In 1991, peace continues to spread across eastern Europe. Good news for most, but disarmament could mean curtains for some of the world's largest companies--defense contractors. To keep things stirred up, hawkish military officers on both sides of the crumbling Iron Curtain are recruited by the defense industry to use regular military units to commit terrorist acts. As a Soviet pilot assigned to fight these terrorists, you'll face some of the best equipment in the world. You may find yourself shooting down an American-made A-10 attack aircraft and dodging Soviet SAMs at the same time.
You may choose from a variety of interesting missions that are offered. They range from attacking fuel dumps and armor to escorting commercial airliners to protecting downed pilots. And even though stormovik literally means "ground-attack aircraft," a few air-to-air missions are also thrown in for grins. The flight characteristics used in the simulation seem pretty good, though the plane handles unusually well with a full bomb load and hard banking does not seem to result in the loss of altitude you would expect.
Graphically, the view from the cockpit is well done but nothing new or exciting. Fans of LHX Attack Chopper, also by Electronic Arts, will find themselves on familiar ground, as the same grpahic engine seems to have been used to drive Stormovik SU-25. Numerous exterior views of the plane are offered, as you would expect, along with zooming and time compression.
The game supports Ad Lib and CMS sound cards. The sounds produced are good but not spectacular; more could have been done in this area. The manual is also good but not great. It's a little light on tactics and not nearly as hefty as a MicroProse manual, though it is accurate and the fold-out map of the battle area is helpful.
Game designer Rick Tiberi hasn't pioneered any new ground technically, but the game subject matter and content are certainly well done and refreshing. The missions flow from one to the next in a logical manner and increase in difficulty as time goes by and your rank increases. And there is enough variety in the assignments to keep you coming back to see what's next.
Stormovik SU-25, the game, is a lot like the aircraft itself--not real flashy but solid, well constructed, and capable of doing the job. Fans of highspeed flight certainly won't be disappointed, and the idea of fighting to preserve peace adds an interesting edge to the game.