Flight sims, eh? Most of them are about as exciting as watching the M25 video, or a driver's eye view of the rail journey from Aberdeen to Penzance. They come with manuals the size of bungalows and instructions which you need a degree in Physics to understand. Sheehsh! You have to admit, though, that some are rather better than others and MicroProse have earned themselves a fat fortune making games that are just that.
F-117A is the long awaited sequel to the fantabulous F-19 Stealth Fighter, one of the best flight sims ever, and shares Gunship 2000's extremely playable game engine.
For Stealth's second excursion into the world's battlezones, MicroProse have enlisted the help of some of the world's biggest trouble spots - Central Europe, the Persian Gulf, Cuba, Korea and Vietnam - and supply you with an infinite variety of suicidal missions for you to throw your Amiga at.
To make the gameplay even more interesting, you also get three levels of conflict - Cold War, where you can be penalized for attacking unspecified targets; Limited War, where you can kind of do what you want as long as no-one finds out about it; and Conventional War, where you can shoot jettisoning pilots, napalm villages and cause people to flutter their order papers at the UN and get rewarded for it.
But hang on. You have got to learn to fly the thing first. F-117A also gives you the option to carry out training missions in all the different theaters of war, so you can get used to the levels of opposition awaiting you, with an infinite supply of ammo and parachutes. This is a pretty neat idea since you are not penalized for ploughing into hillsides or flying off in a completely different direction all together and going to visit your mum, or something.
Take off and destroy
If you have never played a flight sim before, the sight of all those controls, hot-keys and weapon options can be a bit bewildering, especially when you have just been jumped by a squadron of MiGs and are in full-flight panic mode. Even if you manage to take off and destroy successfully, there is always a tricky carrier landing in the Bay of Pigs waiting for you on your return. Practice like your life depends on it.
Things are rather less sweet when it comes to doing the missions themselves. You usually have two or three objectives to achieve in a single sortie, so weapons and fuel are often at a premium. Waste all your cluster bombs on Saddam's palace and you have nothing left to chuck at the chemical weapons factory down the road. Some missions do not call on you to use any weapons at all, you just have to fly over specified targets and photograph them for the boffins back at base, while avoiding all the radar-guided missiles homing in on your tail. You can also choose whether to play air-combat or ground strike missions, though most seem to be a mixture of both.
F-117A is the kind of game you are either going to love or loathe. MicroProse seem to churn these things out with alarming regularity and most of them are pretty top-notch, state-of-the-art stuff. This offers you some extremely nifty graphics, night-flying options - complete with twinkling stars and moon - and all the usual slot and remote camera views you expect.
The missions are varied and become increasingly complex as your skills as pilot and tactician progress, but the Stealth proves to be extremely easy to fly and you are soon zooming around the enemy's airspace like the fighter ace you secretly know you are.
Crasher of coward?
Getting yourself safely back to base is a much trickier proposition, especially when you are expected to land on the narrow deck of an aircraft carrier. It takes a fiendish amount of practice to get it right and it is often easier to just bail out or ditch into the sea. Total cowards can opt for the No Crashes option - which at least gets you back on the ground in one piece - but an Autopilot Landing option would have been a much less messy proposition.
Despite these drawbacks, F-117A is very, very good. The 3D graphics are marvelous, the sound effects realistic and the missions will have you hammering the baddies until the next real war starts. This won't be an essential buy if you already own loads of flight sims, but it is a cracking game nevertheless.
People who downloaded F117A Stealth Fighter have also downloaded:
F-19 Stealth Fighter, F15 Strike Eagle 2, F/A-18 Interceptor, F-29 Retaliator, Gunship 2000 AGA, Fighter Bomber, Silent Service 2, A-10 Tank Killer v1.5
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