F16 Combat Pilot

Title           F16 Combat Pilot
Game Type       Flight sim
Publisher       Digital Integration
Players         1 (2 with modem or link-up cable)
Compatibility   OCS or Patch from Bert Jahn's WHDLoad page
HD Installable  With Patch
Submission      Tommy Engfors

F16 Combat Pilot is pretty much what it says. A flight simulator simulating
the General Dynamics F16C Fighting Falcon. It is DI's first attempt at
creating a realistic flightsim for the Amiga market.

Beginning with the main menu, the player is offered a multitude of options
-Training, Single mission, Gladiator mode (2 player modemplay) and
Operation Conquest (campaign mode). Each option takes the player to a
submenu with further choices to be made.

Chosing 'Training' lets the player go through a series of missions
designed to teach you how to operate the aircraft and deploy weapons. It
is a good way to start off before hitting "real" trouble. A demo mode is
also offered in which the computer shows how to take off and shoot
air-to-air missiles.

Going for single missions means doing single, randomly generated missions
(pretty logical...). There are 5 categories of single missions and each
has to be succesfully completed at least once to gain access to Operation
Conquest. These 5 categories cover every aspect of military operations
from simple reconnaissance to tactical bombing runs behind enemy lines.

Operation Conquest is basically a large campaign-mode and as such, far
more complex than Single mission. This is where the game really flexes its

The player is given a scenario in which some unnamed hostile nation
declares war on the allies (also unnamed). Armed with the resources of an
F16C squadron the player must aid the Allied ground troops in defeating
the enemy. The campaign takes place on a fairly large strategic map where
missions for computer F16s are assigned by the player. In addition the
player creates and flies his own missions as well. The enemy has a large
array of anti aircraft defences, well equipped air force and highly
motivated ground troops. As the war progresses and the enemy forces
advance the front line, new situations arise and the player might have to
reconsider decisions made earlier. For instance assigning aircraft to
close battlefield support instead of radar supression. Having a limited
number of aircraft and weapons requires resource management.  It is vital
to make the right decisions and strike a good balance between offensive
and defensive efforts. Is it best to go for enemy communications first?
What about air superiority? The campaign design makes those questions
valid and it is one of the strongest features the game has to offer.  It
makes it stand out as something more than just another detailed
flight simulator.

What is lacking a bit, both in single player and campaign mode, are
'dogfights'. In real life the F16 is known as one of the most manouverable
jets in the world thanks to its unstable flight characteristics (most
traditional fixed wing aircraft are built to be "stable" with less
agility, for a variety of reasons). In the game little of that is captured
as the weapons are very effective at taking out enemy fighters beyond
visual range. You detect a hostile aircraft on your passive radar, you
point your nose at it, wait for lock on, fire and few seconds later the
threat is gone. Range was 10 miles. You did not see him and he did not see
you. There simply is no need to get close. The internal 20mm Vulcan gun is
therefore never used in a typical F16 Combat Pilot mission. Not even when
the objective is to intercept and shoot down enemy fighters. It is true,
in all honesty, that the F16C (the version the game simulates) is more of
a multirole fighter with good long/medium range missiles (the AMRAAM for
instance), but it would be fun to have some close visual fights anyway.

The graphics are more or less on the same level as most other
flight simulators for the Amiga. The speed is good an Amiga 500 with
around 10-15 frames per second in most cases. All graphics are filled
vectors with the exception of explosions, which are bittmapped. The game
has no fancy "outside" camera views, but  the cockpit is well designed and
looks similar to the real thing (I have compared with photos). When the
sky is not blue it is grey with a cloudbase and in both cases does not
offer anything new.  A bit unusual however, is the night mission feature.
At night the world is pitch dark with absolutley zero visibility through
anything other than the low-light Head Up Display. It forces the player to
fly by instrument and thus adds an extra challenge when trying to locate
mission objectives.

Sound is sadly pretty much non-existent except for the standard engine
"whoosh" noise, which changes to a 'nice' whining sound when the throttle
set to idle. The only other sounds are various warning alarms when the
aircraft is being targeted and shot at.

The multiplayer mode works reliably without any obvious bugs. Both players
start  heading towards each other in either visual range or beyond visual
range. There is no co-operative mode, only dogfight. Sounds like fun? It's
not. You can take out the other guy with missiles quite easily. The one
who shoots first also wins and since both are usually flying head-on,
waiting to come within range, the battle always ends the same way...
going for a gun kill is not much fun either because it is very, very
difficult to line up for a good shot. Realistic maybe, but not fun.

Success and failure is continously recorderd in a logfile which keeps
track of nice details such as flight time, targets destroyed, aircraft
lost etc. Less nice is the fact that it gets swiftly erased should the
player crash/get shoot down. Even though a backup can be made manually (by
copying the save-disk) it is annoying.

The game itself comes on only one disk which is great for non harddrive
users. Unfortunately it does not multitask. It does not run from
Workbench. It does not use AmigaDOS. To top it all off, it also has a
nifty copy protection that prevents honest people from making a backup
copy of the original. Other than that it runs fine. There was also a
version made for the Commodore 64. It is similar to the Amiga version
except for the 2-player mode and the command function in Operation
Conquest, both these options were completly removed.

In conclusion I would say this is, all in all,  a good flight simulator.
Not the most system friendly (a big shame) and not the best dogfight-sim,
but a very well balanced multirole-mission simulation with interesting
dynamic campaigns to back it up.

Category list.

Alphabetical list.