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hearing that boxed retail versions may also be available soon. What
follows are some comprehensive observations from running the sim on my
systems so far - I'm running version 1.0.2, the current release.
System 1: Intel iMac 24' 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo with 4 Gig of RAM installed
and OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard). Began with FAF version 1.0.1 on this
system, running 1.0.2 presently.
System 2: an Mac Mini 2.7 GHz Dual Core i7 with 4 Gig of RAM installed,
250 G SSD and 750 G HD; OS X 10.7.2 (Lion) and using a Samsung 8000
series LED TV as a monitor connected via HDMI. Running FAF version
1.0.2 on this system.
Controllers: CH Products Pro Throttle (which I later discovered has a
bad pot), Fighter Stick USB, Pro Pedals USB, and Thrustmaster USB MFD
bezels, and a Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar stick/throttle. All all are
recognized by System Profiler and the sim.
ControllerMate Utility for Mac: A very powerful software implemented
hardware interfacing utility for Mac which has solved a few of the below
issues for me - allows direct programming/assignment of keystrokes (and
even scripts) to buttons/switch inputs of HID compliant controllers.
Highly recommended for Mac gamers/cockpit/sim building.
General comments for System 2 - using the big screen and SSD make huge
improvements in sim response and graphics presentation, as expected -
the presentation is near life size (maybe slightly larger, but not
problematically so) with this setup and the presentation is very
immersive, though black-barred (sides fill) vise actual full 16:9 as
indicated in the Graphics Setup selection - I suppose this is as
expected at present? Overall response of the sim is also greatly
improved over System 1 setup.
General Comments for use with HOTAS Cougar - the sim seems to work the
same for Mac as it does for the Windows version when using HOTAS Cougar.
Similar issues with using the mini joystick on both Win and Mac
systems, however, ControllerMate can be used by Mac users in lieu of the
PC only Thrustmaster T.A.R.G.E.T, Foxy, and/or the Cougar Control Panel
to make HOTAS Cougar functional for Mac users; Controller Mate works
similar to Thrustmaster T.A.R.G.E.T and Foxy combined. Mac users need
to use a PC and the Cougar Control Panel to return HOTAS Cougar to
default setting initially, and/or no-op the Cougar's rudder functions
unless they are being used. Still trying to figure out how to get the
mini joystick to work for cursor control.
1) All of the Thrustmaster OBD buttons are assignable and function
correctly, but only rocker switch button 21 is assignable on the MFD;
other rocker switch positions are not assignable for either MFD. The
MFD actually have 28 buttons; 1-20 are OSB buttons and 21-28 are the
four two/twin button rockers which should also be available for key
assignments as left/right. Can be resolved by using ControllerMate.
2) CH Pro Pedals work as rudder pedals, but cannot assign Wheel Brakes
to the toe axes. Can be resolved by using ControllerMate.
3) The start up splash screen does not retain selection to show the full
screen or windowed presentation only if the user holds down the option
key at start up.
4) It takes three activations of the Mode button on my CH Fighter Stick
USB to toggle NWS from on to off and/or off to on. May need to allow
multiple assignment of functions for such a controller case, as this
button can register as button 17, 18, or 19 as it cycles through the
LEDs on the stick base. Can be resolved by using ControllerMate.
5) Sim Exit dialog randomly registers input device commands. Clicking
the End or Resume button in the graphical Exit dialog box randomly
does/does not register the selection using either of an Apple Magic
Trackpad or Kensington Orbit USB trackball input devices. Selecting E
or R on the keyboard always works.
1) Nozzle position and oil pressure indications are erratic and not
2) Fuel flow indication does not stabilize once afterburner is selected.
Initial spike to far beyond realistic flow rate, then it slowly rolls
back down after an extended selection. Unclear what this means with
respect to actual flying time in the sim. Fuel flow does seem realistic
during part power selection.
3) Some keystroke references in the Keys Setup do not match the
references in the manual. The Keys Setup screen entries appear to be
4) ATC airfield traffic calls are inconsistent; sometimes tower will
call 'left base' setup when all turns are to the runway are to the right
- notable in landing pattern at end of Takeoff mission. ICAO standard
is that 'left hand traffic' means all left hand turns in the traffic
pattern, 'right hand traffic' means all left hand turns in the traffic
pattern - in accord with both what I have been taught as a civilian
pilot, and USAF and international airfield operations standard procedure.
5) Airspeed goes to zero (000) in HUD on landing rollout instead of
pegging to a minimum of 60 KCAS as it says in the manual.
6) Keyboard cntrl+e command for Eject does not command ejection. The
ejection 'clack' sounds repeatedly as long as the key is held, but no
ejection occurs for the key combination. Eject does happen if I click
and hold the ejection handle in the cockpit graphic. Eject does not
happen as it should for a single cntrl+e key activation.
7) Chaff and Flare count do not decrement in accordance with actual
Chaff/Flare expenditure. On selecting 'Drop Chaff' the Chaff count
decrements, but on selecting 'Drop Flare' the Chaff count decrements and
the Flare count does nothing - Flare count never decrements.
8) Cockpit canopy frame/rail graphic does not move with canopy
open/close when canopy is actuated. Can see canopy movement in exterior
camera views, but in cockpit interior view the canopy frame does not
move and appears to remain in the closed position.
9) With HDMI/TV setup, exiting the sim leaves does not return the System
to default user selected screen resolution - sim is not returning
display to System starting state on exit. User has to reselect Display
resolution to restore user selected operation for Hot Corners, etc.
General - highly recommended for both fans of Falcon and fans of high
fidelity flight simulators. Using ControllerMate can also aid in using
various controllers with this and other games - also a highly
recommended utility. Hopefully this sim will be updated and improved
over time and not left to languish as it has been all this time.
FIGHT'S ON, Mac users!!!
Falcon 4.0 is the culmination of many years of development. This game took so long to produce that many people thought it would never see the light of day. If it did, we were also worried that we'd see another Battlecruiser 3000 debacle. Luckily, the game finally was released and while the initial release was incredibly buggy and problematic, the newly patched 1.08i version really brings the simulation to the forefront where it was meant to be.
Let's begin with the installation. This game can be fully installed onto your hard drive for about 650 MB. The upside of this is that you don't need the CD to play the game and the game also loads much more quickly. Once installed and patched, you're taken to the opening cinematic, which puts you in the mood for the action to follow. A word to the wise: before playing this game, read the manual. It may look daunting at over 600 pages but it's probably one of the best computer game manuals ever written.
Once in the main menu, you have several options available to you for your gaming pleasure. First, there's the requisite instant action mode, which as it says, puts you right in the air with a sparse objective and lots of enemies to kill.
The next mode is the Tactical Engagement (TE) mode. This mode includes both the game's mission/campaign editor and also the game's highly detailed tutorial missions. These missions are explained in detail in the game's gigantic manual and cover everything from taking off and landing to full-scale air and ground combat. It's a great way to get started and the briefings were written by an actual F-16 trainer, Pete Bonani, who also helped on the project itself.
For all you budding campaign makers out there, TE is one of the best modules you could ask for in a flight simulation -- now that it's been patched, of course. TE allows you to do just about everything from placing units and making events to stringing up whole campaigns. This goes a long way to ensuring a long product life, as if the campaign isn't enough...
Ah...the campaign...not so beautiful or ambitious an undertaking has yet to be accomplished so well as here in Falcon 4. We have, for our delight, a fully real-time dynamic campaign engine that handles the entire war for us. The campaign scenarios (there are three) all take place in the Korean peninsula and you've got North Korean and Russian forces with which to engage
I've spoken about the types of gameplay available but what about the game itself? Well, if you like your simulations hard core -- you know, where each key on the keyboard has three different functions, then this is the sim for you. The difficulty and flight modeling are all completely scalable, making for either a life-like or arcade experience. If you're like me, you'll put everything to its maximum realism setting.
I've played simulations for years, all at max realism, but nothing prepared me for the sheer workload of the Falcon. This game models just about everything on the real plane itself and almost every button in the cockpit is operational, leading to a myriad of functions and commands. A programmable controller and game commander are almost required to play this game with any sanity.
If you take the time to learn the controls and get comfortable with the flight model, you'll be in for the time of your life. The flight modeling has to be some of the best I've ever seen, with full spin and stall coverage. This flight model is quite unforgiving and with all the controls and options available to you, you're in for one hard ride.
You're not alone in the skies, however. Due to the dynamic and realistic nature of the game, you're almost always accompanied by at least one wingman. Controlling them or any other type of communication is handled elegantly through a series of menus. These menus can accomplish almost any type of communication you'd want, whether it's with wingmen, the tower or even AWACS.
Once you've gotten good at the campaign missions, which can take a while, you can take to the virtual skies against other humans. Everything in the game, except for instant action mode, can be played in multi-player mode -- including the campaigns. This is the only fixed wing simulation in recent memory (c.1999) other than EF2000 that allowed you to cooperatively fly campaigns and the results are stunning. I was only able to fly with one other pilot due to my lousy 56K modem connection and the flight was a bit choppy. We did, however, have a blast.
The technical aspect of this game is excellent also. Everything is configurable from your graphics and sound drivers to the complexity of the graphics. One major factor that comes into play is the 'Player Bubble.' This adjusts how much activity around you the computer renders. The larger the player bubble, the more objects the computer will have to render, rather than having them abstracted when you're out of view of them. This leads to a large slowdown due to the incredible amount of processing and memory power that the campaign requires.
The graphics and sound themselves look and sound great. The graphics are somewhat a combination of satellite imagery and computer drawn imagery and the results are stunning. The Korean landscape has never looked better and the objects in the game themselves, from tanks to planes, look outstanding and realistic. Sound doesn't fare as well as the graphics, unfortunately. While there's a lot of chatter going on that immerses the player, there's one problem: the engine. The engine, even on afterburner, sounds terrible -- more like a small boat engine rather than the powerful engine of an F-16. This is my only gripe, however.
In conclusion, if you're looking for a great hard-core fixed wing simulation that can keep you occupied for years to come, Falcon 4.0 will be a sure bet. It's got tons of depth and detail. Just make sure you download the latest patch for the game before playing or your results will definitely be less than they could be.
Sound: Nice, but the engine sounds horrible.
Enjoyment: Very enjoyable if you have the time and patience to learn it.
Replay Value: A mission campaign editor, huge dynamic campaigns, and multiplayer options ensure a VERY long life...
Falcon 4.0 Allied Force Updates
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