TFX: Tactical Fighter Experiment is the first in a long line of medium to hard core simulations made for the home computer by Digital Image Design, or DID. DID has been in the sim business for some time, and they've even helped the Royal Air Force develop some of their simulations for RAF pilots. This sim plops you into the role of either a pilot for the United Nations, or in the role of UN Commander (more on this later).
The game models three planes, the Eurofighter 2000, the F-22, and the F-117A Stealth Bomber. It's somewhat prophetic that, in the years after this sim, DID released two ground breaking sims, EF2000 and F-22 ADF. One wonders if, were they still around, would DID have continued the trend and made an F-117A sim. Given that TFX was the last sim to model the F-117A in such detail, one could have only hoped.
The three planes are the stars of the show in TFX If you want to fly all of them in the campaign, however, you'll need to go through training first. Training is just one of six play modes available, but to get to the final three, you need to pass the training missions. The first mode is the arcade mode, which is pretty self-explanatory. The second mode is the aforementioned training mode, which guides you through a series of missions in order to qualify you for actual combat missions. In an interesting twist, the later stages of the game can't be accessed unless you've passed training. The third mode of play is the simulator (what, a simulator within a simulator? Well...yes...). This mode allows you to pick an area and simply fly around at your leisure, without worrying about enemies or missions.
The final three modes of play are where the real meat of the game lies. The fourth mode of play is the tour of duty. This is a dynamic campaign that is dependent on the area and plane you choose. With five areas in the game, including Somalia and Yugoslavia, this means for a lot of variety. For example, if you choose the F-22, you'll see more interdiction and escort missions...pick the EF2000, and you'll see a mix of both strike and air-to-air missions. This generates a lot of variety on top of the fact that the campaigns themselves are dynamic in nature. This means that the campaigns flow due to mission successes and failures, mimicking a much more realistic war-like situation.
The fifth mode of play is called "Flash Points." These are small campaigns with actual stories intertwined into them, and make for a really interesting diversion. It's almost as if you're flying a movie or soap opera, and unfortunately, this kind of play in sims has rarely been copied. It's nice to see a sim have some semblance of a story.
The final mode, and the toughest, is that of U.N. Commander. In this mode, you basically choose an area, as you did in the tour of duty. The difference here is that YOU plan ALL of the missions yourself. When missions are planned, you can choose to fly any of them, given that they use the three flyable planes modeled. This mode, and the others, goes a long way in insuring high replayability.
The graphics in this sim are top notch, and really push the boundaries of polygonal animation. The terrain is some of the best seen in a sim of this type, and the planes themselves look fabulous. There are beautiful hills and valleys to fly through, let alone deserts and oceans. Overall, the graphics are fantastic. The sound effects aren't bad either. We're treated to great sound effects and even some descent voice acting in there.
While the game looks and plays great, it's not without its problems. The manual states that "There has never -- repeat, never - been a flight model as authentic as this for the home computer." Not everything in the game allows the game to live up to that statement. The most glaring example is the F-117A's landing gear shearing off right after take off, or the F-22 blowing up after a successful carrier landing. While the flight model is pretty good, it's not as great as the manual claims. Other than that, the game has no serious problems. The AI for your friends and enemies is competent enough to get by, and if you can overlook some flight model deficiencies, you'll have fun.
Overall, this sim paved the way for what was to be two of the best flight sims ever, EF2000 and F-22 ADF. This game is usually forgotten amongst its more popular peers, probably because it wasn't marketed as well. One would have to say that if you were interested at ALL in modern jet combat, let alone stealth combat, you'd be doing yourself a favor by picking TFX up. Being able to fly the F-117A alone is worth the price of admission.
Graphics: In its day, this sim had some of the best graphics around.
Sound: Good sound effects and voice acting.
Enjoyment: Lots of play modes to have fun with, but some glitches can get in the way.
Replay Value: All six play modes offer a wide variety of replayable missions.
TFX (Tactical Fighter eXperiment) is a realistic flight simulation where you can fly with F-117A, Eurofighter 2000 or F-22 Superstar in various scenarios as a UN fighter pilot.
People who downloaded T.F.X. have also downloaded:
Super EF 2000 (a.k.a. Super EuroFighter 2000), Tornado, Strike Commander (CD-ROM Edition), U.S. Navy Fighters Gold, Jane's AH-64D Longbow Gold, Tornado & Operation Desert Storm, Su-27 Flanker, F-15 Strike Eagle III
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