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F/A-18 Interceptor logo  Format Gold

Amiga - £24.95, joystick or keys, any machine. ST – no version planned.

T F/A-18 Interceptor here are two things you can be sure of when dealing with hornets: disturb a nest of them and you will regret it, disturb an F-18 Hornet and you won’t live to regret it. The F-18 is misnamed. In this combat simulator it is a caged beast that roars to life in respons e to your controls…

The setting is San Francisco and the surrounding coastline. Here you can train and experiment with flying the Hornet amongst bridges and skyscrapers, before tackling the hazardous combat missions. It is not a true flight simulator, but takes the best elements of a flight sim and turns them into an airborne adventure.

Fa/18 Interceptor explained
1. Many a pilot has been lost from forgetting to put down the landing gear, or the arrestor hook for carrier landings.

2. Four AMRAAMs, two Sidewinders and 570 rounds of cannon fire is your maximum armament. It may sound a lot but the opposition are not usually sitting ducks. You can re-fuel and re-arm at any of four bases including the carrier, but a stationary target is very inviting for any hostiles.

3. The radar screen is invaluable during dogfights and has three resolutions: 2, 10 and 40 miles. It also uses colours codes to identify craft to help you shoot down the right thing.

4. The HUD (heads up display) provides all the necessary information about your height, speed, bearing, weapon status (what you have currently got armed) G-forces and target closing velocity. If you do not want it you can toggle it off.

5. The message window gives information on a target’s heading, speed and altitude – again invaluable in a fight. It also alerts you of incoming missiles, damage done to you and if you are about to crash.

6. The ECM can be used to confuse or detect an enemy missile attack, but it turns you into a beacon for the enemy to latch onto. More effective is dispensing chaff to confuse radar homing missiles and flares to draw away infra-red homing missiles.

Amiga/ST Format, Issue 1, April 1988, p.p.50-51

still graphics
2 out of 5
moving graphics
4.5 out of 5
3 out of 5
lasting interest
4.5 out of 5
overall 91%

Once you have familiarised yourself with the F-18’s controls, which should not take long, you can take her up for a spin. During training you can practice the manoeuvres that you will need during combat, like rolls, break turns, inverted flight and the split-s. All you have to do then is manage a take-off and landing from the aircraft carrier to qualify for the combat missions. This should not prove too difficult but hostiles will appear and make life difficult if you take too long.

The instructions do not tell you about all the combat missions, and as in real life you will find that the information and aims given at the start of a mission are not always accurate – act and think fast; you are judge, jury and executioner in the air.

The simplest mission is to scramble and identify a plane and then return to base. As with most missions you are instructed not to fire unless fired upon. As each mission is successfully completed you are allowed to progress on to the next – your personal flight log being updated each time.

The in-cockpit views are not terribly interesting unless you buzz buildings and bridges, but the screen updating is fast and convincing. Where the graphics really score is in the ability to go outside the cockpit and view the action and surroundings from all sorts of camera angles. This may not be realistic, but it adds tremendously to the presentation, atmosphere and overall effect of the game.

There is not a great deal of detail or use of colour in the graphics, but they are sharp, clear and functional, giving a very atmospheric edge to the action. This is added to by the engine sound which is a credible roar that sounds most impressive when you are outside the cockpit, and is complimented by sonic booms, explosions, warning beeps, cannon fire and sometimes deathly silence as the fuel runs out and the nose cone starts to tilt ominously earthwards.

You cannot help but be amazed by the graphic sequences that are possible. They are every bit as thrilling as those in films like Top Gun or Firefox, but the big difference is that you are in control. The difficulty level has been set just right so that even a beginner can get plenty out of the game in a short time, but it will continue to offer increasingly difficult challenges as the player improves.

The combat action is fantastic. You will have to work hard to out-fly a hostile MiG that has several missiles with your name on them. The satisfaction of triumphing in a dogfight against a wily opponent is immense. It is a stunningly absorbing game that is impossible to put down once you have taken up the challenge.

F/A-18 Interceptor logo  CU Superstar

Electronic Arts
Price: £24.95

”O F/A-18 Interceptor h wow! Wooaah! Bogeys all over me!” Urgh! What is happening in CU’s computer room? Well, Gary Penn (callsign ‘Mohican’) and myself (callsign ‘Hothead’) are involved in a desperate life or death dogfight with two MiG-29s.
Interceptor will rock you back on your heels when you see it. We have put in quite a few hours flying time and I still get a buzz watching it. As a flight simulator it is no big deal. If you want to know what it is like to fly a jet fighter there are more exacting games around. Where EA’s game scores is with the celebrated look and feel. It looks fantastic and feels great.

The first thing you will notice when you get up and running with it is the beautiful filled-in 3D solid effect. But the real thrill with it is the way you can switch viewpoints both inside and outside the aircraft just by tapping the keys on the numerical keypad. I guarantee you will be darting around watching the action from more angles than a protractor. For some really great effects switch to a rear view as you take off from the carrier, or watch you eject from a stricken jet as the canopy flies off and a man with a swirling chute flies out. That should convince you this is the business.

Interceptor will take you through a series of progressively tough missions. A menu allows you to select from a number of different scenarios, but it is a good idea to kick off with a demo to get your mouth salivating and eyes-a-bulging. You can then take up a trainer and practive a fw manoeuvres yourself but if you are any kind of a cool mutha you will want to get stuck into some serious scrappin’.

F/A-18 Interceptor To get further into Interceptor you have to qualify for mission selection. That means earning some wings, taking off from the carrier (easy) and landing (not quite so easy). Taking off in your steel bird is a breeze, just power up to 90% thrust and pull the nose up as you go off the edge and you are away. A couple of attempts and you will be doing a barrel roll off the flight deck and upsetting the guy in the control tower by making him spill his coffee in his lap. Put some distance between yourself and the ship by increasing your thrust to 100% and tapping the plus key – this locks in the afterburner (nip out to the rear view for a sight of the exhausts, flame on – wowza!).

You may not make it though, because Russian MiGs are pretty cheeky about flying around the bay of San Francisco and you may find yourself involved in a bit of aerial fisticuffs. The dogfights are hot stuff, and whilst they prove Interceptor to be more in the mould of DI’s Fighter Pilot than Sublogic’s Jet, it has got big, shiny brass knobs on. Take her up to Mach 1½ and 40,000 feet and come out of the sun on an unsuspecting Mig. Bang! Suck on that comrade! Old Ivan is no sucker and he will be twisting and turning on your ass before you know it, IR missiles at the ready. Make sure your ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) are on and make ready to spill more chaff than an Okie farmer. Jees! That was an IR missile passing right past the canopy!
Interceptor, as you might have guessed, gets you a bit involved.

F/A-18 Interceptor Landing the jet back on deck is a bit of a swine. Two things to remember her, make sure you are above 145 feet otherwise you will slap right into the carrier (nasty) and make sure you land on the back – it won’t accept that you have completed the task unless you do. The manual does not make this clear, so consider yourself well briefed.

One little moan here. Well actually it is more of a whinge really, Interceptor has a bug. You can land on the sea! And what is more you cannot get out of it, the game locks up and you have to abort. If you do manage to land on the carrier you will be able to go on the qualified missions. The first has you intercepting unidentified aircraft. You take off from the ground this time and you will have to find the airstrip if you want to get back, because neither of the two planes you can fly are carrier-based. No arrestor hook, see? And when it instructs you not to engage unless attacked it means it. This is Visual Confirmation.

Mission Two is a defence operation. Scramble from the Enterprise and take out a couple of MiGs. Other missions (no we have not completed them yet, but Free America is depending on us, so we won’t fail) include intercepting a couple of stolen aircraft, and doing a search and rescue operation. Oh, on the intercept mission ignore the instructions and blow the stealing sons of Stalin out of the sky.

Interceptor really is quite staggering stuff. It is fast, it is a dream to play and just as nice to look at. I can imagine games appearing with more depth, but until then this is my fave. Get one and go gettem!
Mike Pattenden

CU Amiga, June 1988, p.p.67-68

Scale 1 - 10
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9 out of 10
8 out of 10
CU Rating: 9