DCS A-10 Warthog – PC Game Preview
DCS A-10 Warthog. PC Game. Eagle Dynamics. $59.99.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II is a unique aircraft. A few years back I spoke with a few A-10 pilots at a local airshow, and its’ clear that they truly love their aircraft, because although it may be ugly, but it sure can bring some pain; the shells it fires are literally as big, maybe even bigger than the old 1970s 16-ounce Coke bottles!
In the ’91 Gulf War it was finally able to prove its usefulness in combat by destroying 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 military vehicles and roughly 1,200 artillery pieces, many of which was done with the GAU-8 cannon alone. As crazy as this might sound, the A-10 even scored two air-2-air victories by shooting down enemy helicopters in the Gulf War.
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The most recent version of the A-10 Thunderbolt II is the A-10C, and it’s the version which The Fighter Group and Eagle Dynamics is modeling in the upcoming DCS: A-10 Warthog simulation for the PC.
The Precision Engagement Modification Program is one of the biggest updates for the A-10, turning aging A-10s into A-10C model aircraft. What the PEMP brings to the table is new flight computer, new glass cockpit displays and controls, two new 5.5-inch (140 mm) color displays with moving map function and an integrated digital stores management system. That’s not all that they’re modeling.
Other improvements include the means to deploy JDAMS and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser, and two new targeting pods the Lockhead Martin Sniper XR & LITENING targeting pod.
There are also new integrated countermeasures and data-link capabilities too.
I’ve been tinkering with a Beta version of DCS A-10 Warthog to put this preview together, and so far it’s looking quite impressive. For instance the cockpit is modeled in painstaking detail, surpassing the work they did on the A-10 in LOMAC Platinum. They offer a full six-degrees of freedom cockpit, so you can pan around anywhere within it, and you can manipulate every button, dial, switch, gauge, indicator, and display, as if you were in the actual cockpit.
Like also in DCS BlackShark, if you want to sit back and go through an actual start-up sequence like the real pilots do, you can. It will take about six minutes worth of work, but it goes to show how realistically they’ve modeled every thing in the cockpit that an actual pilot can touch. If they can touch it, you can too in the A-10 Warthog cockpit. Everything is truly a mouse click away in virtual cockpit that they’ve created.
The rendering is quite amazing too. Being they’re modeling the new C version of the A-10, there are some new full color displays to be found within the cockpit, and going through the various modes offered on them is pretty exciting. The full color map display on the Tactical Awareness Display (TAD) is even said to be capable of accepting data from the Joint Terminal Attack Controller (think of a super high-tech AWACs) on the fly). When doing so on the TAD map, the actual target can even be set and highlighted on it by simply hooking up with the JTAC. Essentially it has the capability to accept new targets on the fly, with no pilot input. Gotta love the digital age!
The Digital Stores Management System also brings the A-10C’s weapons management capabilities into the 21st century. With the DSMS pilots can create rather in-depth profiles, for instance setting the number of rockets to ripple fire, they can even set the delay of fuses, and when done then save it as a profile to call up again later. It’s a smart weapons management system altogether, and it’s modeled in DCS A-10 Warthog.
Another feature I find useful is that they’ve added a feature called Active Pause. Let’s face it, while all of these new technological improvements make the A-10C more lethal and efficient, there’s still a lot of information for a virtual pilot to take in, and to learn to utilize in a simulation as realistically modeled as DCS A-10 Warthog.
To help lessen the workload for virtual Warthog pilots the Active Pause option allows you to pause the action, so you can take a minute to work the various systems like the targeting pod, tactical awareness display, programming DSMS weapon profiles, radio management, etc.
Some might consider this cheating, but things happen rapidly in combat, and only a select few will be able to fully learn, understand, and take in everything that A-10 Warthog has to offer due to its complexity by design. Active Pause sounds like a nice way for virtual pilots to learn the systems, without failing a mission and having to start over and over and over again, because they weren’t quick enough to manage their weapons, or switch over to the proper MFD mode and so on. It also says a lot about how in-depth and realistic the simulation is to have the need to include a feature like that.
The action takes place in two different theaters of operation in DCS A-10 Warthog. The first is a Black Sea Map, which has been expanded eastwards, and now models hotspots like Tbilisi and South Ossetia. Parts of southern Russia have also been expanded as well. The second map is a Nevada Map, which encompasses much of the Nellis training range, home of Red Flag and Area 51. The desert setting is a welcome addition too, because while it’s nice that the DCS titles share the Black Sea Region together, a change of scenery certainly doesn’t hurt. Variety is always a good thing.
Visually speaking DCS A-10 Warthog is a step up above DCS BlackShark and LOMAC: Platinum too. There are lots of visual bells and whistles to be taken advantage of for those of you with the latest flavor of high end video cards. The weapons hanging off the A-10 are photo-realistic, and the sun glare is also quite impressive to say the least. They’ve really taken things to the next level visually speaking. Look close enough and you can even make out the text on the warheads.
System requirements at the moment are estimated to be…
Minimal system requirements: OS: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7; CPU: Pentium 4 3 GHz; RAM: 2 GB; Graphics: 512 MB ATI or nVidia, DirectX 9 compatible; Sound card; 6 GB of free space on HDD; Copy protected, requires internet activation.
Recommended system requirements: OS: Windows 7 64; CPU: Intel Core i7-970; RAM: 4+ GB; Graphics: 512+ MB ATI HD4850+ or nVidia GTX260+; Sound card; 6 GB of free space on HDD; Copy protected, requires internet activation; Joystick.
This might change upon release, but these are the requirements they’ve been using for the Beta. As for compatibility with DCS Black Shark, a patch is planned to update it with the features that DCS A-10 Warthog brings to the table, except the means to fly the A-10C. Now that’s pretty exciting because there are a lot of new things A-10 has over Black Shark in the way of mission building capabilities, and technological improvements and tweaks. So DCS Black Shark owners stand to gain a lot from the release of DCS A-10 Warthog. However, It’s said to be very unlikely that there will be any compatibility with LOMAC Platinum at all.
I also like what I heard about the copy protection that it will use. DCS A-10 Warthog will use a new form of StarForce ProActive AAA Technology. You’ll start with 8 activations linked to your serial number, and to combat piracy it will limit the number of activations per month, but once you’ve spent your 8 activations, it will then begin to add an activation back to your serial number once every 31 days.
As it stands A-10 Warthog is slated for release sometime in late December. At present it’s in the 3rd stage of the beta test, and things are looking pretty good. DCS A-10 Warthog is shaping up to be one of the most in-depth and thorough simulations for the PC that money will be able to buy of the A-10 Warthog that we’ve ever seen. There are many options which you can tweak to tone the realism down, but it’s never going to be a “game” like Arma II or Call of Duty in an A-10. Veteran and Hardcore flight simulation enthusiasts will get a lot of play time out of this one for sure, but Greenhorns might find it too overwhelming.
It’s been years since we last had a stand alone A-10 simulation, and by what I’ve seen first-hand in DCS A-10 Warthog, it’s really hard to even call anything that came before it a simulation. All of those that came before it seem like casual games in contrast. Stay tuned for more on A-10 Warthog, and watch for it at the end of next month to hit store shelves if all goes as planned. You can also still pre-order it now and have access to the beta version up until they release the final version.
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.