F/A-18 Interceptor (Third Review)

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

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

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.

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