Title F/A-18 Interceptor (Third Review) Game Type Flight Sim Players 1 Compatibility Any Amiga HD Installable Yes (With Patch) Company Electronic Arts (by Bob Dinnerman) Submission Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer Review I remember the anticipation of some of my friends as we waited for F/A-18 Interceptor back in 1988. We'd seen the rolling demo in the shops and while some people were extremely impressed, I had some reservations. Most of us felt sure that the Amiga's true potential was awesome, but as I studied the frame update and the complexity of the 3D world I knew we hadn't reached the promised land just yet. Don't misunderstand me, the game was, and is, very impressive and I eagerly paid my 25 pounds over the counter, but I was aware that for me this was not quite the program we had been waiting so long for. The game has simple but effective presentation, with a nice static graphic and atmospheric introduction music, very reminiscent of the film Top Gun. The player is quickly presented with several lines of text; each representing an option. These include: Freeflight, Training, Selectable Missions and Next Advanced Mission. The game is set in the San Francisco Bay area, and, as was to become something of a tradition for Flight-Sims, many of the actual bridges are represented within the 3D world. In fact, if you look for it, I believe I'm right in saying that the Electronic Arts building is accurately placed somewhere in the game. When you try out the Freeflight option you'll be given a choice of either the F/A-18 or the F16, and an external camera zooms into the map, closes on the selected airbase, and then on to your plane, finally placing you in the cockpit. A keypress, a gentle pull back on the stick, and you're in the air, racing over the modestly detailed but entirely adequate landscape. This brings us to possibly F/A-18's greatest strength, the handling of the aircraft. As splendid a Flight-sim as I think Spectrum Holobyte's Falcon is, I have to agree with popular opinion that the response and general control of the aircraft is more fun in F/A-18. It somehow succeeds in providing that graceful, swooping agility that is the province of the jet fighter. This effect is further enhanced by some creative additions to the program like the sonic boom sound effect (complimented with a visible 'buffet'), and many other touches like the exciting lock-on sound tones, again adding that Top Gun feel. The missions themselves, while rather straightforward, are both imaginative and highly playable. For example there is a mission to defend the President's plane, Airforce One, another where you must intercept an incoming Cruise missile (not a Top Gun reference), one where you must very accurately drop a rescue pod for a downed pilot, and the final (now almost legendary amongst Amiga games players) attack and destroy the Submersible Carrier mission. F/A-18 has always been a firm favourite of Amiga games players; I think this is partly because it feels far more like a game than most Flight-sims. In addition to this the natural handling of the aircraft and the 'let's go!' nature of the missions enhance the game's accessability. I personally have a slight problem with the air combat, because you never get close enough to your enemies to see much more than a dot, so the experience of close-up dogfighting is not experienced here. Having said that, the missile based combat is rather enjoyable, if slightly less personal. I should also mention that with Jean-François Fabre's superb WHDLoad software patch the game runs happily from the hard drive and now supports '060 accelerators at scarily fast framerates. Great work, Jean-François! F/A-18 Interceptor then is deservedly thought of as a classic Amiga game that undoubtedly sold a great many A500 machines. With the software patch it stands up very well today as a Flight-Sim with the emphasis firmly on accessability and fun.