Ocean's first flight sim is certainly ambitious, simulating not only the next generation of fighters, but also the jets to replace them.
Retaliator begins with the pilot enrolling in the Air Force at any of five ranks (1st Lieutenant up to Colonel). Once cleared for pilot status by a retina-scan security routine your military career can begin. You can either go direct into war with the arcade-style Zulu Alert, starting in midair with unlimited weapons, or pick a scenario. Serious pilots will start at the Arizona Test Range, but there's also three warzones to visit. You can choose either an F-29 or an F-22 and must stick to it through your saved career.
The Test Range is your best bet if you want to get the feel of your new aerial 'office'. Various remotely-controlled targets and drones are scattered throughout the 1000-odd miles making up the Range. Tanks, Trucks, bridges, industrial plants, command centers, airbases, SAM sites and more provide target fodder for ground attacks while drone MiG-29 Fulcrums practice patrols around the Range skies, eager for an air-to-air to take them out. Get the plane up into the wild blue yonder and you'll immediately notice the smooth control and incredible agility of the aircraft.
But thankfully you don't need to be a genius to fly the planes. Three console monitors provide all the data you need to perform your mission, selecting through the displays brings up an amazing array of radars, indicators and moving maps. External views are also available for you to admire yourself from, as is a view from a satellite. Autopilot is provided, with electronic countermeasures (ECM, which jams radar), plus chaff and flares (to distract enemy missiles).
While you're in the States it's a good idea to put the aircraft's weapons to the test, there's five types of air-to-air missiles to choose from, and four types of air-to-surface missile, all highly advanced and 'smart' with it. Load up with whatever weapons you want and use them to the full on the test range. In the warzones you may well experience weapon shortages, so this may be the best chance you get to play around with AGM-10H Cruise Missiles, Back-Winders, Conventional Stand Off Weapons and the rest.
In the 21st Century the future of air power will be a mixture of superlative fighter agility and stealth tactics which is where the ATF fits right in. Shut down all the radars and the aircraft enters stealth mode, vital for passing through defense zones crammed full of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and heavy radar coverage. For high speed, high level flights kick in the Supercruise to thrust up to 100%.
Right, enough of this introductory talk. It's time to get into combat. Through the main option screen you can select the theater of conflict. The three warzones are all hot spots for the US in the next 20 years and you're in the thick of it. Choose from the Middle East, the Pacific Solomons Islands (a USA colony rich in oil deposits but under threat from enemy naval attack and invasion), and the Big One --conventional war in Central Europe.
Once a warzone is selected you find yourself in Mission Control. From here you can select the type of plane you want to fly, the base you want to start the tour of duty from, the armament and finally the mission to undertake. The ten Arizona Test Missions were merely the beginning because now you've got an enemy going all out to conquer, and ready to fire back at you with extreme prejudice!
Like real life you can't tackle a mission that theoretically occurred towards the end of the war, after all you've only just started! Only by completing missions and surviving the air war do more missions come to light (in the form of War Updates). For instance, in the Pacific warzone the first few missions aren't too demanding at all (down a few MiGs, hit a small enemy oil depot, and so on) but with time the war situation changes, new War Updates appear, and ever harder different missions crop up (ranging from crippling a Super Tanker to defending the New Jersey from all out attack, or even taking on an Aircraft Carrier!).
Very cool action flight simulator. You control the F29, and must complete many missions. The game looks great and takes only one floppy.
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