All versions of Falcon 4 are more like a modification than an upgrade. They suffer under the weight of many problems. In some respects they are even unplayable. The most important problem that both Falcon 4 Allied Force And Falcon 4 BMS 4 have is their poor aircraft artificial intelligence. First I will start off with the computer controlled flights. These are the flights that are not participated in by the human player. One of the great things that BMS 4 has is that all flights in a package are visible on the horizontal situation display. Unfortunately, this does not translate in to flights behaving smartly as part of a package. A package is a set of flights that all try to accomplish the same mission. For example, in BMS 4, there could be a offensive counter air package to attack an airbase. The flights in the package would include OCA strike, SEAD escort to protect the package from enemy SAM sites, and escort to protect the package from enemy fighters. Unfortunately, the escorts in the OCA strike do not interact well with the other flights. The escort flight will chase after enemy planes and abandon the package flights it is supposed to protect.
Also conversely In BMS 4, the OCA strike flight does not interact well with the escort flight. The OCA strike flight should turn around and fly behind the escort flight when it encounters enemy aircraft. Unfortunately the OCA strike just keeps on going and gets way ahead of the escort flight. But it should join up with the escort flight only when it has been taken care of by them.
In Falcon 4 Allied Force, the flights in a package do not do any better at interacting with each other. The flights in a package in both versions of Falcon 4 fly as if they are independent units. The escort flights in the package start out ahead of the flights being escorted. This works pretty well because they go steadily forward and clear out enemy aircraft ahead of the flights that are being escorted. However, Falcon 4 has the same problem with coordination among flights. If the escort flights need to turn around to evade enemy missiles, the flights that are being escorted get closer and then pass up and pass by the escort flights.
Fortunately, the escort flights do not turn around when they encounter a threat. They charge forward and take losses but also clear out a path for the other flights in the package. Although the escorts taking losses may work for the good of the package, it would be better if losses were minimized for all flights. But this behavior can be mitigated by manually taking control of the escort flights or the other flights in the package. Details on how to do this are in the article "Falcon 4 Artificial Intelligence Limitations To Be Aware of And Tips to Win the Game with Them", which can be found here.
Now I will talk about the wingmen artificial intelligence. The wingmen artificial intelligence in Falcon 4 Allied Force is terrible while it is much better in Falcon 4 BMS 4. In Falcon 4 Allied Force, the wingman artificial intelligence is almost unworkable. I cannot get them to fire at planes with the AA-12(R-77) Adder active radar homing missile, and then join up with me to turn away from the missile. They simply will not stay with me. Once they detect a missile, they will slow down, put it after their 3 or 9 o'clock, and then turn into the missile. This never works and they always gets themselves killed. They refuse to follow me in order to keep heading away from the missile at a high rate of speed.
In Falcon 4 BMS 4, the wingmen artificial intelligence is much better. They will, for much of the time, follow you and keep heading away from the missile with you if you lead the way. However, you need to be bossy with them and watch them like a hawk. When they want to turn around, you need to order them to get back in formation and close up formation. This is discussed in the Falcon 4 tips section of the website in the article "Getting your wingman to survive the AA-12(R-77) in a 4 against 2 engagement". To view the article, click here.
The two types of aircraft artificial intelligence problems each create their own problems. Escorts that don't work right mean they won't work to protect the package and might as well not be there. They won't protect the package well at all. They may destroy a plane or two along the route but will not stay with the package and keep destroying threats that might appear.
In Falcon 4 Allied Force, not being in control of your wingmen means that you can not manage your flight and have it be successful. This means your flight is more like a collection of planes than a flight. It is like you are a lone wolf.
If I had to choose which one was worse, I might choose that being able to control your own flight is more important. But then again the computer controlled flights and packages matter to. You fly in these. If the escorts don't stay with you, then that makes your flights less fun.
Also escorts that don't work right make the war as a whole less interesting because the artificial intelligence in the other fights and packages don't do as good as a job as the artificial intelligence could. Again, the escorts in these circumstances don't make much difference- and this makes the dynamic campaign less interesting. The war matters too. It is not just your flight matters that matters to make the game fun.
But as far as playability goes, the most important thing is for the game to allow you to change the outcome of the war. What's most important for this is the artificial intelligence of your wingmen. It is good this is most important because one of the versions of Falcon has this. Falcon 4 BMS has this to some degree. But coordination of the escort flights and the flights they are escorting are not present in either version of Falcon.
You can do without your escorts much of the time. This is because if you load up your planes with 4 Aim 120s each, that is a total amount of kills of 16. The air to air resistance would have to be pretty extreme for 16 kills not to clear a path toward your mission target. Being able to lead successful flights is what makes the game the most fun anyway.
The wingman artificial intelligence limitations create real problems in Falcon 4 Allied Force. In this version of Falcon the artificial intelligence of the enemy aircraft is somtimes super intelligent. You somtimes have to get within less than 12.5 miles away to launch a Aim-120 and have it hit the enemy plane. When they are super intelligent and the enemy planes have and fire AA-12(R-77) Adders, then that really makes it impossible for your flight to be successful. This creates problems for you being able to change the outcome of the war.
In Falcon4 BMS 4, the enemy aircraft are relatively easy to kill with Aim 120s. You can score a hit at 18.5 miles away. This means you can be a hero and change the outcome of the war in Falcon 4 BMS 4- whereas in Falcon 4 Allied Force this is much less the case.
BMS 4, however, has game balancing problems of its own. There might be a problem with the consistency of the enemy aggressiveness. I have noticed that enemy aircraft in BMS 4 are often not very aggressive in an actual campaign but only in a tactical engagement. This needs to be improved.
Now I will move on to the air to ground part of the game. The artificial intelligence is also not good at destroying a significant amount of ground targets. In the first two hours of the game, both squadrons only get a couple dozen enemy ground target kills at most. I have noticed that in Free Falcon 5, the squadrons in ground missions targeting vehicles get many more times the ground kills as in Falcon 4 Allied Force and Falcon 4 BMS 4. This suggest that there is a problem with the aircraft AI destroying ground targets. It makes air power pretty insignificant in killing ground vehicles. This is probably not true in real life, which makes the war as a whole less good. You end up having to fly every ground attack mission yourself, which makes the game less fun.
So it looks like that in both versions of Falcon 4, they don't get the artificial intelligence right. It is like the game makers slap on a bunch of features without fixing the most important things that have to do with gameplay like the artificial intelligence. It is if no one knows enough about the artificial intelligence in the original Falcon 4 code to fix it. It is if the Falcon 4 code is hacked and manipulated, but not upgraded and fixed.
Another major letdown in Falcon 4 BMS 4 and Falcon 4 Allied Force is in the dynamic campaign engine. The campaign engine does not generate enough barcap combat air patrols to protect the allied bases. In the Falcon 4 BMS 4 Korea Iron Fortress campaign, allied bases get bombed by a much more inferior enemy airforce. Also, enemy airbases are not well protected. You can penetrate large amounts of enemy airspace and often only get stopped by a handful of enemy aircraft.
There is a workaround for the lack of barcaps problem in BMS 4. It involves the following. The workaround sets the priorities to certain values. Unfortunately, one of the priorities that has to be set is zeroing out the offensive counter air priority for the dynamic campaign engine to task strikes on enemy airbases.The campaign engine as a result generates plenty of barcap missions to protect the airbases but generates no missions to strike them. This means that the dynamic campaign engine can only do defense or offense but not both.
Fortunately though, the dynamic campaign engine with this workaround generates so many barcap missions, that they may last for hours. This leads me to the second part of the workaround. This would be increasing the offensive counter air priority after a certain interval. I think it would work well to to have three hours of airbase defense followed by three hours of airbase strikes in BMS 4.
The dynamic campaign in Falcon 4 Allied Force works differently than it does in BMS 4. Unlike Falcon 4 BMS 4, how well the dynamic campaign engine works depends on the theater. Certain theaters generate enough barcaps and certain theaters do not. The Korean theater in Falcon 4 Allied Force is terrible to the point of being unplayable. The enemy side only produces a few barcaps no matter what you set the priorities to. In the right theaters such as the Balkans, however, Falcon 4 Allied Force generates a good number of barcaps. The weakness of Falcon 4 Allied Force is that you are stuck with only a few theaters where it it possible to have a decent number of barcaps. Only in these theaters can you adjust the priorities to get more barcaps.
The weakness to using the above workarounds is that it does not work as well as a functioning dynamic campaign engine. This is because the game balance is not as good as a functioning dynamic campaign engine. A functioning dynamic campaign engine would strive to make the right amount of barcap defensive counter air patrols at the right time. But the workaround will create an arbitrary amount of barcaps added at an arbitrary time. There may also be an inbalance between offensive counter air and defensive counter air. Likely there would be too many barcap defensive counter air missions making the airbase strikes too unrealistically well defended and suicide missions. Nevertheless, it will probably achieve its job for producing a good number of barcaps. It should generate a plenty amount of opportunities to strike airbases and also leave them well protected.
The Falcon 4 Allied Force Israel MK2 campaign, however, works just how it should work. Somehow this theater and only this theater makes the dynamic campaign generate plenty of barcaps which defend airbases. It also generates plenty of offensive counter air missions to attack enemy airbases. So the priorities can be left alone. Unfortunately, there is no Israeli theater for BMS 4 that makes the dynamic campaign engine generate plenty of barcaps. The BMS 4 Israeli theater has the same problem with a lack of barcaps as the other theaters. So you are stuck with the above workaround for the lack of barcaps problem in BMS 4.
Details on how to get enough barcaps in Falcon 4 BMS 4 and Falcon 4 Allied Force can be found here.
Even the administrators for the benchmarksims forum concede that the dynamic campaign engine is not the strong suit of the game. This is a pretty important part of the game. It's at least as important as the graphics, flight model and cockpit upgrades.
I have watched the Falcon 4 game be worked on through various groups. There was one commercial version of Falcon 4 after the original Microprose game in 1998, which was Falcon 4 Allied Force in 2005. There were also many modification groups releasing many free modifications to the game. There was the Realism Patch, Superpak, Free Falcon, and now BMS 4. They added many improvements to the physics, graphics, and cockpit realism. All they seemed to have added is mainly cockpit realism and graphics. I know that sounds reductionistic to all the work that has been done on it, but that is how I see it. In fact, the new versions of Falcon 4 have mainly been cockpit realism fixes.
The dynamic campaign and artificial intelligence has been changed a bit. But it seems like no one really knows how the code works enough to really improve it, rather than just make small changes here and there. Since cockpit realism has basically been improved as much as it needs to be improved, maybe the dynamic campaign and the artificial intelligence will be focused on. BMS 4.33 is coming out soon. Whether it fixes these problems, time will tell.