F-117A is a flight simulator featuring the U.S. Air Force's Stealth Fighter. Although you only fly one aircraft in the game, there are numerous mission options. There are nine different areas of conflict which each vary in difficulty (Persian Gulf, North Cape, Libya, Central Europe, Middle East, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Cuba and Korea.) The current state of conflict (cold, conventional, or limited war) affects the readiness of the enemy. Missions fall into three different types: air-to-air, air-to-ground and training. Other features include multiple in and out of cockpit views, ongoing pilot records, night missions, and a post-mission debrief which charts the progress of the mission on a map of the theater.
The sequel to F-19 Stealth Fighter - take America's premiere stealth fighter out for a spin in several battle areas, including the Persian Gulf, Cuba, and even Vietnam. There are various scenarios for each, with air-to-air or ground missions, in "cold war" and full-scale war situations. Players can build up their pilot ranks through completed missions and medals.
The game actually has two flight modes. In the "authentic" mode, you have only 2 weapon bays, but you have higher stealth rating. In the "theoretical" mode, you have 4 weapon bays like F-19 Stealth Fighter, but your plane is easier to detect due to a lower stealth rating.
Many people have very strong opinions on how a sequel should be: a completely new game, the same gameplay with improvements and updated graphics and sounds, or somewhere in the middle. As for this game here, it could be argued that it's not even a new game, but an updated version of F-19 Stealth Fighter. Actually that's exactly the approach of Microprose, and so they stated in the manual that when the real official name of the plane, its exterior shape, and some practical details had finally become public, it was time to publish an update for one of their most celebrated games; apart from the technical improvements the game could get when re-written for quite faster computers.
So if you're going to complain that this game is too much--as in totally--like F-19, it's pointless. It's meant to be an updated version of the same game: even the geographic scenarios are the same, and the title implies it a 2.0 version of F-19. There was already an expansion to the original that replaced the graphics of the plane with the real ones for the exterior views; this time the whole game was re-made, with 256 colours and generally better graphics everywhere. It otherwise plays more or less the same, though, except for the two choices of plane to fly (see below).
In case you don't know the original, just like it this is a flight simulator, and a quite realistic one--within the technical possibilities of the time. But it doesn't play like most other flight simulators, because they're about fighters, and the missions a F-117 (improperly called fighter) would carry out are completely different. Typically you are supposed to get to the targets (two per mission, primary and secondary) undetected, do your thing, and get back to base again undetected. The targets must be either destroyed--which may be a piece of cake or not depending on the weapon you have to use--or photographed.
I suggest you read the review for F-19, since pretty much everything applies here again, and there's no point in my repeating it (except the lack of night missions, although now the visibility is always oddly good at night, still compromising realism a little in favour of noob-friendliness). Even the control keys are exactly the same, and every key will do the same in both games.--so check the extra downloads for F-19 for the keyboard reference. (I will repeat this one advice though: at the start of each mission press Alt+V once, to disable the engine whir while leaving the rest of the sounds enabled).
The actual bird turned out to be quite more stealthy than Microprose had anticipated when they released F-19; but had half as much weapon carrying capacity, and no air to air capabilities whatsoever, including gun. It was totally specialized as a surgical attack craft, with no compromise for slightly multi-role situations, or even payload capacity or active self-defence. Microprose wanted to make a realistic simulator, but felt that flying the actual F-117 would, as a game, result more boring than the experience they had imagined in F-19. So they came up with a solution: there are two planes to be flown in F-117A Stealth Fighter: the real Lockheed F-117A, and the imaginary Microprose F-19 from the first game.
The two experiences are quite different. At the highest difficulty (enemy preparedness) setting, the Microprose F-19 will be detected if you get too close to radar or do the wrong thing in its vicinity: you must plan your trajectory around and among planes and radar sites very carefully, both on the map before takeoff, and during flight, when airborne radar may change the situation and could trash your best plans. You can actually be cornered into detection, and you should then be prepared for that possibility. On the other hand, with four weapon bays, possibility to pack air to air missiles, and a gun, you actually have a chance to fight your way out of the hairiest situation, and make it back to the shadows, if you're good.
The F-117 is, unless you do the wrong thing, undetectable, period--at least by the radar in the game. At minimal speed just above stall, you can approach the best Doppler radar straight ahead, and fly just over it, and you won't be detected. Maybe this is realistic, since the F-117 was extensively used in several wars and operations, and only one was ever shot down. But as a game it can get boring, just flying straight among swarms of enemies with no concerns, just waiting for the plane to arrive to the target at minimum speed and back, with nothing else to do. It's actually easy to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, once you notice that the best way to accumulate a high score is just spending time behind enemy lines in cold war scenarios.
Generally speaking I would say Microprose did a good job with this update of Stealth Fighter to version 2.0. The game has everything the original had, plus technical improvements, and the possibility to fly two different birds. You can either fly the real "Stealth Fighter" F-117, or get some more action--and a greater challenge--by flying the F-19--in just as realistic a simulation, though, of an imaginary plane. So what's not to like? (Perhaps the art in some cut scenes, compared to the different ones in the original.) Since this is the very same game as F-19, with improvements and a second bird to fly into the bargain, it makes the original version--however technically and otherwise excellent in its time--obsolete.
People who downloaded F 117 have also downloaded:
F-15 Strike Eagle III, F-19 Stealth Fighter (a.k.a. Project Stealth Fighter), F-15 Strike Eagle II (Deluxe Edition), F-16 Aggressor, F-16 Fighting Falcon (a.k.a. iF-16 Fighting Falcon), F-22 Lightning 3, Falcon 4.0: Allied Force, F-16: Combat Pilot
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