JetPilot (Second Review)

Title           JetPilot (Second Review)
Game Type       Flight Simulator
Publisher       Vulcan
Players         1
Compatibility   All (1 Meg Required)
HD Installable  Yes
Submission      Nathan Wain (



JetPilot is a REAL Flight Simulator, not one of those namby-pamby push
the throttle to full, point the nose at the targets and fire, kind of
things.  This one has a decent bit of realism to it.  And enough of the
fiddly details to keep you happy till the cows come home.  It features
the Lockheed F-104 and the English Electric Lightning.


  Programming, Concept and Design:   Michael Bauer

                 Cockpit Graphics:   Andrew Whittall

                Additional Design:   Paul Carrington

                        Publisher:   Vulcan Software Limited



  An Amiga with 1 Meg of ram (minimum)
  68000 and 68020 processors are supported, but the minimum
  recommended is a speedy 030 with fast RAM for reasonable use of
  the game.  (I would also recommend an analogue joystick.)


  Nothing additional required.  The game may be run from floppy-
  disks.  Of course hard-drive installation is recommended.


None.  Vulcan do not believe in penalising genuine purchasers of
their products.  (And good on them for that too.)


A4000, 2Meg Chip, 16Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD,
Toshiba 16x CD-Rom, additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942
Multisync monitor.  (Standard 25MHz 68030 CPU)

A1200, 2Meg Chip, 32Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 340 Meg Seagate 2.5" HDD,
GVP Cobra accellerator-board (68030 and 68882 at 50MHz, without SCSI),
additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 MultiSync monitor.


There are two possible ways of doing this.
1) If you prefer not to be at the mercy of the wishes of HD-install
scripts, you can insert each of the disks, and drag the game icons to
the drawer of your choice on the hard drive.  In fact, I'm doing this
as I type this review.  (Because the a1200 hard-drive died.  Back to
the old 40Meg, *sniff*) :-(

2) Otherwise you can boot the game off floppy-disk, and click on the
install-button on the control-panel.  You are given a choice of
installing to hd0: hd1: hd2: dh0: dh1: or dh2:  Not hugely-flexible,
but it does allow the game to be installed in the root-directory of a
suitable partition on your drive.  So when I tried it, all I had to do
was click on the hd1: button, and when the install was finished I
rebooted the machine and moved the drawer into the place I wanted.
Unless you've given your HD-partitions really strange names, this
should prove satisfactory.

These two methods of installation should be workable for even the most
unorthadox of Miggy setups.


Handled OCS, ECS and AGA screenmodes without incident.  Even my DblPAL
and Multiscan workbenches.

The mouse-pointer went funny when booting from a DoublePAL Workbench
back when I was using many system patches, including MCP.  Now, while
I'm still using Visual Prefs, Power Windows, and many other little
hacks (I've gone off MCP) it all works perfectly.  I assume it was a
clash with one of my MCP settings - but a simple change in JETPilots
screenmode would fix it up, so this problem could be worked around.

On the a1200 I also had a problem with the screen-position of JP's
DblPAL screenmode.  No such problem on the a4000.  I'm impressed with
it's DblPAL support though; as far as I was aware, the author had no
DblPAL capable monitor.


Very little hard documentation.  But this is because there is a most
comprehensive online manual to help you through the game.  (The
manual can be printed if you particularly wish to unnecessarily kill
trees.)  The online manual has a nice feature where you can bring up
the cockpit instrument-panel and click on the various dials/switches
to take you straight to it in the manual.  This is nice, since each
of the Jets have quite different instrument-panels.  Otherwise you
may simply browse through it, or use it's hyperlinks to navigate -
very Amiga-guide, but better tied into the game.

Overall, good utilisation of the manuals online nature.  When the
manual references a documented thing, you can click on it to go
there.  When you select a mission, a click on the "notes" button will
take you straight to its place in the manual.


Oh, it's kinda slow.  (Goes back to the control-panel...  changes the
settings to more reasonable levels for a humble 030 processor.)  Hey,
that's pretty good!  ...this game can give a lot of detail, but you
will need a decent processor to be able to use it.  And I'm talking
040 or 060 here...  unfortunately I haven't seen it run on one of
these yet, so I can't say how fast these go...  (I hear they work
very nicely though.)  And it actually runs not-too bad on the
A4000's 030 too.

Now these planes have a real good realistic feel to them.  You
don't just slam the (analogue) stick in the direction you want the
nose to go while maintaining full afterburner.  You _will_ exceed the
structural limits of the machine.  A nice touch is that it informs
you of this, with a black-screen and an error-message "Structural
limits exceeded" whereupon you can actually choose to continue anyway.
This is a sim which will let you get away with some things if you tell
it to.  (Of course, if you were trying to qualify for something here,
you haven't a hope in hell of succeeding now.)

And the views of around the cockpit are awesome!  Not so much in just
the graphic detail, but they are full panoramic views, which are
different for each plane.  So you can actually look all the way
around to the left, and see the headrest, look up and have radically
different visibility depending on what type of aircraft you're in -
through what huge chunky grey bits of metal are in the way of the
plane you are trying to track, etc.

Oh, and some of the aircraft, like the Migs, though nice to fly, have
this nasty tendency to go into a flat-spin if you throw them around
too much.  They teach you very quickly to respect them.  The engines
can also flame-out if you subject them to particlarly oxygen-depriving
maneuvers too.  The flight modelling is said to be within ten percent
of the real thing, and I believe it.


The feel of really being there is just awesome.  The feel of the
controls is better than anything else I've used.  (While some have
been close, none of those have supported an Analogue Joystick -
which gives far superior control to a digital stick.)

The keyboard controls, while complex, are made easy to learn.  Only
the basic controls necessary for take-off, landing, and flight are
listed in the hard-manual.  Everything else is introduced in the
first exersise in which they are required, through the online manual.
A nice way to avoid the frantic search for a key in an encyclopaedia
of a control-sheet.

The ability to click directly on a switch on the cockpit's control
panel is a nice alternative too.


Like most good flight simulations, it takes a while before a new user
progresses beyond the level of a novice.  There is much to be learned
of the controls, and of course the numerous keys we Amiga users are
stuck with, due to lack of a decent multi-button, multi-throttle
analogue-joystick.  JETPilot is no exception here.  In fact, it goes
into even more complexity than any Amiga flight sim I've used before.

Now, fortunately you can skip much of it initially and start in mid-
air.  But that's no fun.  In this one, you can start on the runway,
ready to take off, or even better, you can start by the hangar,
connected to the external supply-lines!  Thus you will have to start
the engine (or two, depending on the plane), throttle-up until they
are driving the internal generators, ask for disconnection of the
supply-lines, request taxi-clearance, release the brakes, taxi to the
runway, lock the brakes again.  Then comes the fun bit...  takeoff!

Here it gets tricky because some planes _need_ take-off flaps to be
down, and you need to have the throttle right before you release the
brakes, (or you'll end up travelling too fast while still grounded),
have the elevators at the right angle as the plane rotates, (or the
tail will hit the ground before you take off.)  Those hit-full-
afterburner-and-take-off games seem so primitive now...   Oh, don't
forget to retract the flaps before you jam them. :-)

One of the greatest things in this game is night-time flying.  Now it
just has to be tried to be believed.  As the sky dims, and the colour
fades from the landscape, the amber lights of the instrument-panel
begins to show.  When it finally reaches blackness, (and you really
need to have the lights switched of in your room, trust me), and
there's the faint horizon-line, the bright lights of the runway, the
navigation-lights of another plane in the distance.  Oh, then go to
external view, admire your own nav-lights for a second.  Then push
the throttle to full re-heat (afterburner), and watch the screen
light up.  (A big bassy stereo is recommended for maximum effect.)

Next fun trick to try...  fly past a control-tower at supersonic
speeds, (switch to the control-tower view first), and hear the sonic
boom as you fly past.  Cool!  Or if you can't be bothered, just go
to external view, and check how you can't hear your Jet when viewing
from in front, then rotate the view to the rear, and hear the kick of
sound as you get behind it again. :-)

Landing is fun, expecially with these planes where you actually have
a landing-chute to deploy.  Trying to brake before the end of the
runway is a scary prospect without it.  And then you have to learn to
take off with another plane, (side by side), and land together... and
there are so many various qualifying tasks to complete.  You have to
prove your competence as a pilot before you are allowed to engage in

Actually I haven't even come _close_ to qualifying for combat... just
trying out all of the other silly little things that can be done has
been distracting me too much.  But I'm having too much fun to care.


Hell, just click on free-flight, and you'll be up in the air with
whatever Jet you choose.  Or, if violence is your thing, click on
the combat-practice missions.  You'll be up in the air and ready to
shoot down a passive Mig in seconds.  The better you are, the fewer
seconds. :-)

Treat the aircraft with just a little respect, and you can still
throw the thing around in the air, buzz the tower, attempt to
collide with your wingman, etc.  It's options do allow you to
avoid much of its underlying complexity if you wish.  If you just
want a quick 30-second blast in the air, you can.


This is the ultimate flight simulator on the Amiga today.  (IMHO)
The flight is just so damn real, and the numerous ways the outside
environment can be changed:  the ability to have low-cloud, different
times of day and seasons, both of which affect the lighting
conditions, (the sky is just darkening in the evening in summer, but
if you try the same time of day in winter, it's totally dark.)  The
wind-speed, temperature and pressure can all be changed too.

Planes that actually have completely different cockpits!  This is
something that is hardly ever done in sims for this machine.

I have no idea when I might ever qualify for combat, because I
haven't even become remotely bored with the stuff there is to do in
free-flight.  (Ever tried doing all those aerobatic moves you're not
supposed to do with a jet.) :-)  Besides, there's always the combat

The way you can get a pilot to visually track a plane is just
awesome.  And keys to press to look over your shoulder etc.  At last,
a simulator where you don't simply have:  front view, side view, rear

And the icing on the cake, a switch on the control panel to turn the
wing-tip lights on and off. :-)


Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge complexity.  Infinite lastability.


A bassier sound to the sonic-boom would've made me happier.

A CD-ROM version with all the (not entirely necessary) voices on the
audio tracks would've been nice.  Unnecessary, but nice. :-)


The only game I ever played that had the similar feel and inertia to
it was F18 interceptor.  Great feel, good dogfighting, but not much
sophistication to it at all.  (A damn fun wee blast.)  F18 hooks you
instantly, but this one keeps you hooked.

None of the Microprose flight sims. on the Amiga had _any_ feel to
them.  The jets would go where you pointed them.  Missiles take out
if they're in their (very) general vicinity of them.  They weren't
simulations by my definition.  (They had a nagging kind of enjoy-
ablility though.)

Gunship 2000 seemed nice.  Actually it seemed very nice - almost
like it could make up for all of Microprose's previous Amiga flight
sims. (almost)  But I never saw enough of it to be able to make a
fair comparison.

And almost everything else I've seen is rather simplistic in all
respects by todays standards, or designed for an A500, and runs far
too fast on anything better.

Fighter Duel Pro 2 is the only other game I've seen that compares
in the quality of simulation it gives you.  However it's strictly a
World War 2 era dogfighting one.  Great flight model, superior frame
rate (through simpler scenery), great sound.  But these two games
have little overlap in what they try to acheive.  I think any sim.
addict would want both of them.  (And the demos are available from
Aminet anyway, so the decision needn't be an uninformed one.)

Unfortunately FDP2 is quite rare.  I don't expect the commercial
version would be easy to find.  (Um, if anyone does find it, let me
know eh?) :-)

Tornado is another simulation I own.  Unfortunately I've hardly
played it, for various reasons.  I'll give a comparison when I know
a bit more about it.  (Although, I did hear much complaining on the
newsgroups about the slow frame-rate of JETPilot in comparison to
Tornado.  Quite frankly, I don't know what the hell they were on
about.  I thought JETPilot gave better framerate for detail-level.)


Just some quirks with Multiscan screenmodes.
I couldn't find any other bugs.


Now that Vulcan have left the Amiga, it is difficult to say.
Support for Multiscan screenmodes, Analogue joysticks, and a fix
to make the demo start happily from Multiscan workbench screen
modes were all quickly implemented when Amigans requested them.


Not sure really.  But it never gave me any problems.  Vulcan have
always been a communicative and supportive company.


Now this is what a real flight-simulator is all about.  Plenty of
stuff to do until you qualify to shot live targets.  Shooting
drones is tricky enough.  (They may not be intelligent, but they
still maneuver.)  This game is going to have me occupied for a
_very_ long time.

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