The legend of ‘Falcon 4.0’, a flight simulator that has been going on for more than two decades thanks to a dedicated community
Probably everyone who reads us has one or several special games in your life. For many people that game is ‘Falcon 4.0’, a flight simulator developed by MicroProse in 1998 that became one of the best in history and in which we piloted the legendary General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.
It is for many reasons, but also for a community of users that has managed to keep this simulator alive for more than two decades. Today the legacy of ‘Falcon 4.0’ is still very much alive thanks to that community, which after multiple derivative versions continue to help the current edition, Falcon BMS, continue to give a lot of war. And never better.
The origins: from MSX to PC
In 1984 Spectrum Holobyte launched ‘F-16 Fighting Falcon’ for the MSX. That game was the first of a spectacular saga that would take three years to take a fundamental step: it reached the MS-DOS-based PCs and the Macintosh in 1987. That game allowed us to fight against the MiG-21 and also had attack missions to land bases and allowed us to select different levels of difficulty.
In 1988, ‘Falcon AT’ (Falcon 2.0) would appear, a graphically enhanced edition for Amiga and Atari ST, which for the first time was based on polygon primitives and not bitmap graphics. It was possible to see our fighter from the outside, and the MiG-29 was also included as an adversary.
After some additional extensions in 1991 would arrive ‘Falcon 3.0’, a particularly ambitious and demanding edition with the computers of the time since one of the requirements was that they had a mathematical co-processor. The F-16A Block 15 was modeled with great detail, and its officials claimed that they had been based on the dynamics of military flight simulators.
New extensions would come to this title, and in 1993 another stage would begin for Spectrum Holobyte, which was acquired by MicroProse. In September 1994, a “gold version” of ‘Falcon 3.0’ with all its extensions would appear, but the company announced something important: the development of ‘Falcon 4.0’ began.
‘Falcon 4.0’, the legend arrives, but it does so
That announcement took more than four years to develop. He officially appeared on December 11, 1998, and starred in the F-16C Fighting Falcon Block 50/52 on the stage of the Korean peninsula.
The realism achieved by the game – which many ended up calling “F4” dry – was spectacular for the time: so much so that today that original code, although it has been retouched, continues to offer one of the best simulators in the industry The video games.
Genre enthusiasts explain the success of ‘Falcon 4.0’. A user nicknamed ‘Spyhawk’, author of a spectacular review of the history of this game – on which this text is based – indicated how simulator developers of the time focused on graphics and a precise simulation that used to give as Result a short life of the title.
For the Falcon saga, the approach was different: the developers explain “they created a realistic war zone, and then they put a fighter in it. This is not just an F-16 simulator, but the experience of a combat pilot putting the player in the war , not just in a hunt, giving him a better understanding of the true role of a pilot in a large-scale challenge. ” For this expert with ‘Falcon 4.0’ he created “a monster”, a flight simulator “that would outshine everyone else.”
Despite all the beginnings of ‘Falcon 4.0’, it was difficult. It was launched prematurely due to budget emergencies, and many were the defects that condemned the experience. Its instability caused many problems that nevertheless were corrected with successive patches.
After one of those patches came to the worst news: in December 1999 Hasbro Games, owner of Microprose closed the offices of this company in Alameda, California. There was the development team of ‘Falcon 4.0’, which convinced at least Hasbro to launch a final version that, of course, would not have official Hasbro support.
The community takes over
It was then that the Embera iBeta took the reins of that latest version of the original development team, and in fact, it was they who created the first of the so-called ‘Realism Patch’ at the beginning of 2000.
These updates improved the behavior of the weapons and devices of the hunt and received the blessing of Hasbro, which fortunately allowed third parties to bring those improvements to a game that for them seemed to be already fulfilling their life cycle. It was not like that.
It was then that the user community began to dedicate hundreds (and thousands) of hours to help the development and improvements not cease. That group, called ‘Realism Patch Group’ (RPG), included ex-engineers and military exploits, demonstrating the enthusiasm generated by this development.
During those years there were singular events: the original code was illegally published in April 2000, and that resulted in a version called ‘falcon’ developed by a programmer called ‘razor’ against which curiously Hasbro did not activate any measure. That ended up becoming a more and more ambitious separate project that generated the creation of the so-called eTeam that some RPG members joined.
That logically generated certain tensions between those two slopes that had been derived from the original project and the communities that had formed around them. At that time also another company called G2Interactive bought the license of ‘Falcon 4.0’ and managed to officially become the developer of titles based on this franchise.
In the end, the community – except for a few exceptions – managed to get together and the different patches were unified to achieve with the so-called “Super PAK” that was improved for example artificial intelligence, the campaign engine and the stability of a game that in 2002 was more mature and perfected than ever.
BenchMarkSims and the final version
Still, other derivative editions like FreeFalcon continued to appear, but the real surprise came in 2003, when BenchMarkSims achieved rights to develop its own version and ended up publishing ‘Falcon BMS’ with some defects but with an important visual leap.
That ended up becoming the definitive version of ‘Falcon 4.0’, despite the fact that other groups and communities were dressed to develop editions such as’ OpenFalcon ‘,’ CobraOne ‘,’ AlliedForce ‘, SkunkWorks’ and successive versions of’ FreeFalcon ‘, which is the one that had more route as an alternative to the main project. The spectacular historical diagram of Falcon 4 in PDF shows a really spectacular evolution full of those derived versions.
With the arrival of ‘Falcon BMS 4.32’ in September 2011, there was a definitive leap in the development of a game that had generated a huge amount of derived efforts that had finally been unified in a development that returned to professionalize despite continuing to count With immense support from the community. In fact, the license itself stipulated that the database was still open so that title enthusiasts could continue to make improvements.
The dimension and degree of detail that the game has reached are incredible, as can be seen in the video explaining the news of the BMS version 4.34, and of course, that achieved realism clearly guides the fans of this type of videogames.
These improvements continue to arrive and in fact, a few days ago ‘Falcon BMS 4.34 Update 2’ was published, which demonstrates the continuous work of a flight simulator that has become a legend in its own right.
More information | Falcon 4 history