Combat Air Patrol reaffirms our view of Psygnosis as a company who can really turn out quality software when they want to. Combat Air Patrol is a lovingly crafted, beautifully designed masterpiece of programming skill. Created by Ed Scio, (the brains behind that great tank sim Armour-Geddon) with graphics by Jeff Bramfitt. Combat Air Patrol is a war sim based on the Gulf Conflict but concentrating on two fighter aircraft - The Tomcat and Hornet.
Two years in the making, the game plays like a dream, with beautifully super smooth polygon graphics in flight, a 30 world of over 360.000 square miles and probably the best cockpit graphics yet. As if piloting two of the fastest and deadliest planes in the universe is not enough. Combat Air Patrol has another more complex side to it, putting you as Commander In Chief of the Allied forces. This is the Campaign mode and the entire outcome of the Gulf War is in your hands. As with the UN coalition C in C, Schwarzkopf, thousands of lives are in your hands and the decisions you make in the War Room will affect our own destiny too... Make no mistake, this is realism in a computer game the likes of which I have rarely seen before.
When in the War Room you need to decide a strategy. Desert Storm was based on the need to drive the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait City and back into Iraq and that's where it stopped. You, on the other hand, may decide to go a different route and try to seek out Saddam himself, hoping that by exterminating their leader, the Iraqi forces will crumble. (Pity they didn't!) Intelligence reports may provide information on Saddam's whereabouts; he may even have been shot down somewhere deep inside Iraq. Alternatively, you may feel that the coalition forces should have in fact continued the retaliation up to the point where Iraq itself was invaded and Bagdad attacked and taken. All this is possible within Combat Air Patrol; what you need is a strategic mind and nerves of steel!!
Your troops and tanks are easy to direct from maps and recon slides available in the War Room, but you must remember to keep your attacking forces supplied at all times. In the Briefing Room, you must relay all the mission information to your pilots, including weather reports, recon pictures and SAM and artillery sites. Then, what better way to lead your troops than by getting in to your own fighter and the doing the business with the rest of the lads?
All your missions, both day and night, start from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt. For the budding hero pilot a vast array of training options is available, including setting the maximum number of enemy aircraft, personal damage limitation, invincible wingmen, unlimited weapons, crash damage, hill collision and payload limits. So you see the game can be played by a novice or vet -you merely adjust it accordingly. In training mode, all kinds of missions can be tried out, practicing take offs and landings, flying to and from targets, beginning over targets, day and night sorties, etc.
What about the missions? You get to do the lot. Fleet defence intercepts, bridge busting, train convoy smashing, runway straffing, bombing airfield shelters. AAA suppression, convoy strikes, gunboat hitting and, of course, scud seek and destroy. Absolutely nothing has been left out of this masterpiece, even mid-air refuelling, a vital part of the campaign, is included. Some of the views are breathtaking, with great external shots such as a flypast mode, view from the Roosevelt deck, chase and wingman view and even an on-the-warhead view for a missile style close up of your target at impact!
It could be easy to forget that with all this great in-flight action and suspense, you still have to fly the damn thing and with a complete HUD display and infra red night time control display, it is like sitting in the real thing (almost). Forget anything that has gone before and go get Combat Air Patrol today, it is without doubt THE best thing I have played in years.
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