Black Knight: Marine Strike Fighter is a simulation of the F/A-18 Hornet, which is currently being used by both the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy. At first glance, this game reminds me of F/A-18 Hornet add-on for Falcon 3.0 from Spectrum Holobyte and Apache from I-Magic, mainly due to the similarity in quality of the VGA graphics. Black Knight seems graphically similar to some of Spectrum Holobyte's older titles. What makes it different, is the attention paid to cockpit detail and overall realism.
FormGen and SE Software had the assistance of the Mirimar, California (Home of Fighter Weapons School, or TogGun for short) based Marine Black Knights squadron VMFA-314 during the development of this product. The work put into this sim really shows, in some areas more than others. You won't get mind-blowing USNF/MF style graphics, but BK does deliver fairly realistic flight modeling, actual F/A-18 sounds, and some of the most realistic cockpit representation I've seen.
The most notable problem in the graphics department is BK's lack of SVGA support. Of course, this isn't all bad. As low-res games go, this one looks pretty sharp. It is far superior to Apache in its 320x200 VGA mode, and surprisingly, enemy aircraft are fairly recognizable at a distance. All this, plus neat features such as realistic weather conditions and terrain, the absence of SVGA support soon becomes immaterial.
Sound effects are digitized samples of actual F/A-18 Hornet sounds, so when one flies by, it's the real deal. Weapons systems, and dropping of ordinance all sound extremely real. BK features an on-board flight instructor for novices in training mode, in which an instructors voice guides you through the motions needed to take off, land, shoot an AIM9 sidewinder, use the radar systems, etc. BK's music is pretty lame, but who buys a flight sim for the music?
Aside from it's failure to work well with all controllers it claims to be compatible with, Black Knight still has a decent flight model, and gameplay is definitely there. It offers eight training missions (the one's with the on-board flight instructor) to help familiarize yourself with the F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter. Once you're ready to fly with the big boys, you can try to tackle some of BK's 50 combat missions. Other options are "Create a Mission" and "Free Flight", which allow you to configure time of day, amount of enemy aircraft, etc. The flight recorder is a VCR-type option that keeps a recording of your mission, so you can go back and see where you screwed up or just watch the action ensue from many different points of view.
BK offers a lot. Sure, newer SVGA games look incredible, but the high frame rate facilitated by BK's low resolution really gives you that immersion effect. The air combat is fun, though hard-core enthusiasts may find it a bit too easy. My only serious gripe with BK is that slowing down the aircraft is almost an impossible task. Even with airbrakes extended, there is no loss of speed. Landing can be a task.
The Bottom Line
Black Knight is a fun and addictive simulation of the F/A-18 Hornet, with realistic sound effects and an unreal frame rate on almost any system. As an added bonus, BK comes with an entertaining and informative video tape on supercarriers (the largest aircraft carriers), aptly titled "Supercarrier". While there are problems with some controller devices, BK is fun to play even with a two button stick, and budding jet jocks will love the on-board flight instructor. If you're used to games like Apache, USNF/MF, Dawn Patrol, etc., you might be disappointed by the dated VGA graphics, but if you can appreciate the classic Microprose and Spectrum Holobyte games of the past that packed as much accurate info and realism into a VGA sim as they could, then BK is right for you.
Black Knight is an air combat F/A-18 Hornet flight simulator. It features 50 different combat missions, 8 training missions as well as a free flight mode. A built-in mission creator is also available. Features included a flight instructor mode which offered instructions at every key point of flight or combat; flight recorder to play back your flight viewed from various angles; and digitized engine and cockpit sounds from actual F/A-18 Hornets.
It was initially distributed in 1995 as a shareware demo with some functions disabled.
This is a simulator of the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. The Flight model is relaxed, so it's easy to get into. The graphics are VGA, but they won't surprise you a bit. There are several scenarios and a campaign mode. The sounds are good, but unexceptional. This game failed to hit the spotlights by being marketed as shareware, receiving little publicity, and having no really original features. However, it's good for a quick blast and fun to play (there's great fun to be had with rockets). All in all, a decent sim which didn't win any awards for originality, but worthy of checking out, as there are no real problems impairing gameplay.
Recent games which might suit people who like this game are Hornet 3.0 and Hornet Korea, which made their debut on the Mac a few years ago, Jane's F/A-18, and Digital Integration's Super Hornet. You can download F/A-18 Korea from this very site.
People who downloaded Black Knight: Marine Strike Fighter have also downloaded:
Back to Baghdad, ATF: Advanced Tactical Fighters, Combat Air Patrol, Birds of Prey, F-15 Strike Eagle III, F-16 Fighting Falcon (a.k.a. iF-16 Fighting Falcon), Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, B-17 Flying Fortress
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