Those amazing young men in their flying machines...

F-15 Strike Eagle 2 logo

Distributor: MicroProse Price: £34.99

G ame sequels rarely suffer from the same problem as film sequels. With films, the follow-up is never anywhere near as good as the first - with the odd exception - but games sequels are nearly always an improvement on the original. Luckily, F15 Strike Eagle II is not one of the exceptions. I can safely say that it is a huge improvement over the excellent F15 Strike Eagle that was released absolutely yonks ago. About a year ago Microprose launched the sequel on to the PC but Amiga owners have had to wait until now for their version, in that year the programmers decided to make the Amiga version even better than that on the PC. "Not hard to do!" I hear you cry, but the PC version plays a mean game.

The F15, for those of you who have had your head buried in the sand for the last year, played a critical role alongside British Tornadoes in the Gulf conflict. In fact, the way that Saddam's forces were military disabled and unable to respond to allied attacks was primarily put down to the F15. But, tastefully, Microprose have chosen not to have an Iraq scenario in the game. True, they do feature the Persian Gulf but the Gulf has always been at flashpoint so it adds atmosphere to the game.

F15 II utilises all the roles that this aircraft can play, be it air-to-air attack or attack-to-ground. The plane is awesomely powerful in both roles. Just how well it flies, however, is entirely up to you.

There are six arenas in which you can fly. These are the Persian Gulf (naturally), Vietnam, Central Europe, the Middle East, North Cape and North Africa. Microprose boast of a total playing area of half a million square miles, and after playing the game I wouldn't argue with them. Each of these arenas contains hundreds of missions which differ every time you play them so your chosen tactics in each are vital to success.

There are four skill levels allowing beginners to pick up the basics really quickly or flying aces to have regular dogfights with the best. And for those who can fly the things easily enough but seem to crash every time they even think about attempting a landing there is an easy auto-pilot option that will do all the hard work for you, leaving you free to concentrate on the action.

As with most flight sims these days you can view the action from viewpoints both inside and outside the aircraft. Used properly this can lead to amazing sequences where you can view enemy planes coming into range and see your missiles homing in and blowing them to bits.

Military hardware buffs will freak out at the authenticity of this sim - all the weapons perform exactly as they should, although unfortunately there are no Cruise missiles to watch turn corners.

Everything is so precise and accurate you can hardly believe it's just a game. Even the enemy planes and ground attack crews don't just sit around like Sidewinder fodder - they react intelligently to everything you do, so you will need to be fast and accurate to take them down before they do the same to you.

After signing on the rostor you choose your operating theatre. Then it's time for the mission briefing where you are given your primary targets (those you hit first) and your secondary targets (those you hit if you feel like it). Then you clamber aboard your fighter and get airborne.

As soon as you are up you use a combination of your radar and the waypoint selector to fly as quickly as possible to your next target. Of course, the enemy are not going to just sit there and take it. If you are up too high the SAM sites will fire deadly air-to-air missiles at you, although if you spot them in time you will be able to deploy counter measures. Just what you do depends on whether the missile is radar homing or heat seeking. Enemy airfields also react to your presence, sending up fighter aircraft to bring you down to earth with a bump.

When you are attacking targets, be they primary, secondary or inconvenient enemy reaction forces, you must select the most effective weaponry and tactics to take them out quickly and effectively. Your plane is equipped with a varied arsenal and each weapon is most effective in a particular role - it's up to you to decide when to use which one.

If your plane is still in one piece after all this you can return to a friendly air base - preferably the one from which you started - to collect all the praise from your commanding officer. A brave performance and enough points gathered for wasting bad guys and completing missions will see you being awarded a medal for your efforts.

But one medal doesn't look very nice on its own, you will have to get several to make your chest look good. With the medals come promotions, although the enemy will consider shooting down a major much more worthwhile than shooting down a rookie private, if you get my meaning.

In mid-battle, if you are in trouble and the enemy are taking great delight in taking your aircraft apart bit by bit, you can always pull the handle and eject. Of course, ejecting over enemy territory is not such a good idea and you must remember that too many premature ejections will make your superiors take you off flying and give you a desk job, so it will be game over for you.

To avoid the embarrassment of premature ejection think of football or something to take your mind off it.

On the whole F15 II is without doubt one of the best flight sims around at the moment. As you would expect from Microprose the packaging is excellent. The manual is one of those things that you could take to bed for a read. Techy buffs will love it. The action is very fast and covers all the theatres of combat that are relevant at the moment. Without any doubt, F15 Strike Eagle II is an essential purchase for the serious game player.


F-15 Strike Eagle 2 logo Amiga Format Gold

MICROPROSE * 34.99 Joystick, mouse, keyboard and analogue joystick

Strike Eagle ready for take off! hisses through the intercom. You're sat at the end of a runway, fully armed and fuelled, ready to take one of the USAF's finest warplanes up into the fray. The F15 is a classic fighting craft, capable of both air-combat and ground-attack. But with F-16s, FA-18s, F-19s, Falcons, F-16s and MiG 29's already flying, can even an F-15 simulation offer anything new?

Flight dynamics
F-15 puts you in the pilot seat, allocates a mission, dumps you at the end of the runway and then tries to shoot you down: it's an action simulation. It throws you into the fighter jock front line, in six different warzones, over four levels of difficulty. These options are all that lay between loading and the airfield, so after a quick briefing about mission objectives, it's time to climb into the cockpit and hit the burners.

An odd thing happens at the end of the runway. As the screen fades up and you scan for dials, your navigator speaks.
"Strike Eagle (is) cleared for take off". Unexpected and authentic, the end of the message is even swallowed in a mass of static. Cranking up the engines for take off, elicits another sound surprise: the whine increases in pitch as the power and speed increase. Both effects add realism, but have been rarely utilised in flight sims. There's little time to listen to anything, though, as the end of the apron rushes forward and the F-15 hits the sky.

Nature of the beast
Once airborne the F-15 reveals itself to be a smooth flying, highly dextrous beast. It turns tightly, handles well and climbs at a rate few can match.
The cockpit layout is similar to that of F-19 - MicroProse's last flight sim - with map, radar and targeting system sitting just below the canopy. There are no dials to clutter up the display, it's just the three screens and a bank of warning lights. The side views show both (inactive) side panels and the outside world. Behind sits the navigator who, for the moment, is strangely silent.

The Head Up Display (HUD) and weapons' system are clearly displayed and easy to read. Acquiring a target involves choosing a missile - either Sidewinder, AMAMMRAM or Maverick - and then designating a target, by thumping the 'T' key. Once locked the target is highlighted in a white box: when it comes into range this changes to a white hexagon, then red. Red indicates positive lock, the best time to hit 'Return' and fire a clean kill. A whooping roar accompanies the missile launch and good hits are rewarded with your navigator's praise. Smashing a primary target with a single shot, for instance, earns a rather enthusiastic "bullseye" from the boy in the back.

What's the damage?
In combat you are always outnumbered. The difficulty level determines how many foes you will face and how many hits the F-15 will take. 'Rookies' can be hit all day, but 'Aces' had better watch their tail or they will be flying a glider home. Hits directly affect engine power, slowly sapping thrust until you fall out of the sky. Fortunately you've ample supplies of missile-confusing chaff and flares to delay this seemingly inevitable fate.

The flying is filled to the brim with tense, thumb on the trigger, heart in the mouth moments. Is it best to go low to avoid the radar? Or high for a cleaner shot? When will the lock go red? These are the regular thrills of flight sims. F-15 adds fast 3D and good sounds to the mixture, overloading pilots with information. F-15 is at its best when the missiles start to fly, the warning claxons sound and the knuckles whiten on joystick in anticipation of that one good shot at your primary target.

The real deal?
F-15 is an exciting and accurate sim. Realism alone cannot carry the day through, because there are already too many different types of planes in the Amiga airbase. The mechanics of the simulation have to serve the greater purpose of the game.

Prior to F-15, the flight-sim roost was firmly ruled by F-19 Stealth Fighter, which best combined realism and gameplay. MiG 29 was the best 'simulation' but it was hampered by a lack of missions. Falcon had the best all round graphics, but was a bit long in the tooth.

Fighter Sim
F-19 is a strong aircraft simulation that's bonded firmly with a tense aerial game of hide-and-seek. F-15 Strike Eagle brings its gaming muscle to bear in the form of speed. The fast 3D enables high-speed dogfighting against multiple foes, giving F-15 a shoot-em-up edge. An edge, further sharpened by the relationship of damage to thrust. F-15 could even be considered a 3D jet fighter shoot-'em-up that replaces the life meter with an engine gauge.

Such comparisons with F-19 are unavoidable. Both games share a similar mission-selection process, many similar warzones and similar foes. The 3D environment, as seen from the cockpit, looks familiar, as do the tactical screens. They are however, two highly different games to play. Stealth Fighter is a strategic simulation that stresses the avoidance of combat. While F-15 actively encourages battle and places action before tactics. To this end F-15 sports fewer controls than F-19, because the test here is not flying but fighting.

Combat rock
F-15 packs a swift, action-packed punch. The power is supplied by the frequency and ferocity of the combat, while the speed comes from the excellent 3D. It sports the best graphics of any simulation to date, and uses sound well to create atmosphere. F-15, though, is a new style of flight sim. Ere the ability to accurately model an aircraft is implicitly accepted and it's what you do while out flying on the missions is what matters.

And if it's combat you're after - with slightly less emphasis on control and more on action - then F-15 could prove an ideal sim. Its not the authenticity of the aircraft's feel that make it special, but the quality of the airborne, roller-coaster thrills. And there are plenty of them, 12 o'clock high, in six different skies, eager to do battle with the Strike Eagle.


Where Strike Eagles dare!
How difficult?
  Mission briefing
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Select Pilot

Your choice here, Rookie through to Ace, determines how tough the opposition will make life for you. Rookies are ten a penny, but a living Ace is a rarity indeed.

Before hitting the skies you're briefed on the mission's specific objectives. It tells you where to fly, what targets to expect.

F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Identify Targets
Ground control   So what happened next?
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Input device

Four different control methods are offered. A joystick is OK, but the mouse is more accurate. Best though is an analogue stick.

After a flight you get a detailed run down of what happened. This usually concerns what you shot and where exactly you died.

F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Review Mission

F-15 Strike Eagle 2 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Als diese Simulation 1989 für den PC herauskam, hieß es noch, dass eine Umsetzung auf den Amiga so gut wie unmöglich wäre. Und was haben wir gerade exklusiv für Euch getestet? Eine mustergültige Konvertierung!

Den Adler dazu zu überreden, sich letztendlich doch am Amiga heimisch zu machen, war schon ein kleines Bravourstückchen - schließlich hatte er in seinen angestammten PC-Gefilden VGA-Grafiken vom Allerfeinsten im Nest. Aber die Jungs, denen wir schon die Amigaversion von "F-19 Stealth Fighter" verdanken, verstehen halt etwas vom Konvertierungsgeschäft: sie haben einfach dasselbe Grafiksystem wie beim "Tarnvogel" benutzt, weshalb die neue Fassung mit dem Original auch nicht hundertprozentig identisch ist. Das ist aber alles andere als ein Nachteil, denn die Grafik ist um ca. 50 Prozent schneller als bei "F-19" (bei gleichem Detaillevel), und sie sieht dabei insgesamt besser aus als auf dem PC! Alle Achtung, kann man da nur sagen...

Aber das ist längst nicht alles, ein weiteres Bonbon ist die enorme Auswahl von Kampfgebieten. Beinahe die ganze Erde dient hier als Szenario, naja, zumindest die klassischen Krisenherde sind in den sechs (riesigen!) Misionsgebieten ziemlich vollständig enthalten: Libyen, Persischer Golf, Mittlerer Osten, Vietnam, Notdkap und Zentraleuropa. Bei einem derart umfangreichen Betätigungsfeld verwundert es kaum, dass es auf unserer "Freundin" natürlich auch mehr Missionen, mehr Ziele und mehr Gegner gibt als zu PC-Zeiten. Kurz und gut, wer als Amigianer einen Ausritt auf dem Adler wagt, hat über mangelnde Abwechslung bestimmt nicht zu klagen!

Dabei gibt es noch etliche andere Dinge, die F-15 Strike Eagle II aus der breiten Masse der Flugsimulationen herausheben. Beispielsweise wurde eine Option eingebaut, mit der man den Kampf automatisch immer aus der jeweils "interessantesten" Perspektive zu sehen kriegt. Wenn also etwa gerade ein feindliches Flugzeug startet oder eine Rakete einschlägt, bekommt man das sofort auf dem Bildschirm gezeigt. So eindrucksvoll das auch sein mag, allzuoft dürfte man diese Option wohl nicht benützen, denn F-15 II ist eine Simulation mit deutlichem Actioneinschlag.

Es wimmelt nur so von Gegnern, man hat hier eigentlich weniger Probleme mit der Beherrschung des Fliegers als mit der Feindes! In dieser Beziehung erinnert das Spiel etwas an "F-29 Retailiator, was aber nun keinesfalls heißen soll, dass die F-15 eine Maschine für Sonntagsflieger wäre. Im Gegenteil, trotz Autopilot (zum Landen) und dergleichen komfortablen Einrichtungen mehr, kann es der Adler vom Fluggefühl her locker mit einem Falken aufnehmen - in manches Beziehung lässt das Game in punkto Realismus nämlich sogar "F16 Falcon" hinter sich.

Beinahe überflüssig zu erwähnen, dass es hier selbstverständlich auch den ganzen üblichen Klimbim, wie Missionsbesprechungen, Ordensverleihung, Highscores, etc. gibt. Viel wichtiger ist da schon, dass die Konvertierung wirklich in jeder Beziehung geglückt ist: Die Landschaften sind einfach traumhaft, die Vektorgrafik bewegt sich im Vergleich zu solch lahmen Enten wie "Blue Max", "A-10 Tank Killer" oder "Dragon Strike" geradezu mit Lichtgeschwindigkeit, und sogar die Zwischenscreens wurden komplett neu gezeichnet. Auch der Sound kommt auf dem Amiga um einiges fetziger als am PC und kann dabei sogar noch mit einer Sprachausgabe aufwarten.

Die Handhabung ist über all Zweifel erhaben (wie sollte es auch anders sein?), wobei man dazu sagen sollte, dass die Amiga-umsetzung gegenüber dem PC-Original etwas schwerer geworden ist. Besonders lobenswert ist das informative Handbuch, das z.B. auch die interessantesten Sehenswürdigkeiten jeder Gegend auflistet - falls einem die Feindesschar tatsächlich mal Zeit für Sightseeing lassen sollte...

Ein einziger Punkt hat uns bei diesem Spiel gestört: Es gibt nicht übermäßig viele Waffensysteme - was aber anderseits kein Beinbruch ist, weil das in der stressigen Hektik der Gefechte gar nicht so richtig ausfällt. Bleibt eigentlich nur noch zu hoffen, daß sich diese Spitzensimulation auch spitzenmäßig verkauft, denn in diesem Fall will Microprose noch eine Datendisk nachschieben - also haltet Euch ran, Leute! (mm)



F-15 Strike Eagle 2 logo

The trend for flight simulations shows no sight of stopping. Now MicroProse have released what could just be the best, and friendliest, flying thrill yet.

Y' know, when I was a kid, my one big dream was to join the air force. I yearned for the thrill of launching jet fighters from aircraft carriers, pulling stunts at several thousand feet, zooming into dog fights and so on. Now, after playing F-15 Strike Eagle II, I'm glad I didn't enroll. There's no telling how many of the RAF's very expensive planes I would have destroyed by now (or how many bones I would have broken). Going by my performance on the Amiga, it'd be quite a few.

Mixing the speed and playability of F/A-18 Interceptor with the depth of more contemporary airborne blasts such as Falcon and F-19 Stealth Fighter (which bares more than a passing resemblance to this program, and was actually programmed by the same team), F-15 II is a very serious attempt to bring the art of flying to the masses. The phrases 'user friendly' and 'fun to play' were obviously etched into the programmers' brains from the very beginning, as F-15 II offers the most accessible route to the skies yet given to Amiga owners.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. There have been oodles of flight sims already - just what makes F-15 II different to (and supposedly better than) the rest. And, more particularly, just what makes it so different to F-19? After all, they both look quite similar and they were programmed by the same team. What's in it for the games player? Well, the answer is 'quite a lot actually', as we shall see.

For a start let's take a brief look at F-15 II's history. Released nearly two years ago on the PC, it was originally programmed in C. Now C, while being a perfectly respectable language, can never compete with the sheer bat-out-of-hellness of machine code. And so when MicroProse UK got the source code from their Stateside buddies, a rethink was in order. A simple port onto the Amiga would leave the program with serious speed problems. To get the whole thing flying around as fast as the PC version, a complete re-write was needed.

And that's what happened. MicroProse UK got Adrian Scotney and Tim Walters (the guys responsible for F-19) to take the game design and re-write it specifically for the Amiga, in machine code. The result is nothing short of astounding. Even with several bucket-loads of ground detail and the odd plane on the screen things still move quite respectably fast. Couple this a genuine 'feel' of flight, and some remarkable action sensibilities and the result is at least as good as, and in many ways better than, anything we've seen so far. Well, that's the idea anyway.

Before I continue with this review, I just want to emphasise that I am writing from a game player's point of view, not that of an aircraft fanatic. When I load up a game on the Amiga I want to enjoy it - real life authenticity is not really my concern. If that's in there too, all the better, but I need a high degree of arcade-style speed and thrills to get my kicks.

How nice, then, that the programmers seem to have catered directly for me. They've gone all out for speed and smoothness with the graphics, which (while great) does mean that F-15 II sacrifices more of the realism of flight than some other sims. Whether this is a good idea is open to debate - I've heard arguments both for and against - but I'd tend to side with the idea that, at the end of the day, an Amiga flight sim is a game, and so should play accordingly.

The argument against says that the sim should be made as realistic as possible, and then tweaked to make it more playable, but that the actual realism should be enough to make it enjoyable. Clearly, because a humble machine such as the Amiga could never reproduce both the graphics and the flight mechanics of half-million quid simulators, there's going to have to be some compromise somewhere along the line, and I know where I'd like to see it made. (And anyway, I've never flown a real F-15, and so probably wouldn't know if it was super-realistic or not anyway).

The core of F-15 Strike Eagle II is a very rigid mission system. Once you've selected your arena (from Vietnam to the Middle East, the choice is yours) and the level of difficulty, the game will dream up a new mission for you. These consist of a take-off point, a primary target to neutralise (i.e. blow the hell out of) and a secondary target to duff up. Complete these objectives, get your plane back to base intact, and bob's your uncle. One completed mission, lots of praise, and more girls than you can handle (sexist, moi?). Then it's just enough time to shout 'Smoke me a kipper', before taking to the skies once more. It's the perfect channel of aggression for all Amiga pacifists.


What it really offers is lashings of hit-and-run missions

In addition to the usual bits and pieces to make you 'feel you really are there' (or something), F-15 II also includes a number of handy features which are great to muck around with - some of them even has a use too! In addition to the four cockpit views and there's also enough external camera options (each with a zoom facility) to keep David Putnam happy. Both the radar and map detail can be enlarged or reduced, and of course there's the usual range of missiles to choose from (well, short, medium and long range actually). Chaff, flares and afterburners are also fitted as standard on the MicroProse model of the F-15, as are target and waypoint selectors (the HUD system helping out with locating the things in question).

There's also a number of options to make life just that little bit easier for the beginner. The auto-pilot comes in very handy for instance, especially when landing is still a bit of a hit-and-miss (or should that be crash-and-burn?) affair. And there's no need to worry about such banalities as flaps. Even landing gear control is optional. This is just a game after all.

Selecting the Rookie difficulty setting even eliminates the hassle of taking off (not that it was particularly had in the first place). Some top guns out there may miss these little elements of realism, but I certainly don't - remembering to retract my landing gear immediately after taking off has never really seemed like the most essential or exciting element of a flying game to me anyway. To my mind F-15 II has a perfect balance.


A damn fine flight simulator. Perhaps the best yet.

Of course all these features are almost standard in the field of Amiga flight sims these days, it's the look and feel department which can make or break a sim. F-15 II triumphs here, with the by far and away the best graphics, and as close a representation of flight as I could ever want. Even the sound is impressive, with an engine whine which reacts perfectly to the movement of the plane, and some satisfying samples. I particularly loved the shout of 'Bullsye' when a target is finally destroyed.

Forget any pretensions to recreating the total flight experience (although F-15 II really is quite remarkable in this respect). What it really offers is lashing of hit-and-run missions, with a fair old number of dogfights in there for good measure. This balance of air-to-air combat and destruction of ground targets, coupled with the enormous play area, makes for a game with real longevity. Despite that fact that at first the missions may not seem particularly varied (all missions I've played so far adhere to the formula of knocking out two ground targets), it's only when you actually get up in the air that you fully appreciate the feel and variety of this game.

It really is impossible to experience the same mission twice. Had F-15 II concentrated solely on the air-to-ground strikes the I would have probably tired of it fairly quickly. As it is, I always find my blood lust getting the better of me, and seem to get totally wrapped up trying to shoot down MiGs.

Don't get me wrong though. Despite the more arcade-based nature of the thing, it's still bloody hard. It took me nigh on an hour of flying before I actually made a kill (unless you count one occasion when I accidentally had the auto-fire on, and knocked out a whole of load of allied planes). Okay, I admit it, I'm probably just crap at these games, but they, you've got to begin somewhere.

Still, a little practice goes a long way, and as the hours tick by, the old flying instincts come to the fore. It's not long before the most spectacular manoeuvres become second nature, and knocking out a radar base without even resorting to missiles doesn't seem quite so daunting after all. The learning curve can be all important with these flight thingies, and thankfully F-15 II gets it just right.

Having played the game quite some time now, I still haven't gotten anywhere near proficient at it. Sure, I can take out the occasional enemy fighter, and bomb the required targets at least fifty percent of the time. But I still find it a challenge (and I haven't even dared move up to the harder levels yet). While I wouldn't rate it as the best game I've ever played, it could well be the one I come back to most. And I wouldn't hesitate in recommending it as a damn fine flight simulator. Perhaps the best yet.


TOTALLY OUT OF YOUR HUD
No simulation of the F15 would be complete without the Heads Up Display. This wonder of modern technology is a computerised overlay on your cockpit view, providing essential information for the pilot about town (or air-space even).
INSIDE THE COCKPIT
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
1. FRONT VIEW (with or without cockpit)
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
2. LEFT VIEW
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
3. RIGHT VIEW
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
4. REAR VIEW
AND OUTSIDE THE COCKPIT
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
5. SLOT VIEW
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
6. CHASE PLANE VIEW
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
7. SIDE VIEW
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
8. MISSILE VIEW
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
9. TACTICAL VIEW
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
10. REVERSE TACTICAL VIEW
WHAT DOES WHAT
F-15 Strike Eagle II offers six playgrounds of war. Each scenario challenges the pilot in a different way, from the overt dogfighting of the Middle East, to hit and run tactics in the North Cape. Here's a selection of example missions, and an accompanying mid-flight shot, just to give you an idea what to expect.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Explanation interface
  1. This is the waypoint indicator. It simply shows the correct direction to the next target.
  2. The circle on the HUD display is the missile envelope. To target a hostile it must be contained in here.
  3. The rolling compass shows the current heading in degrees (of course). This, coupled with the waypoint indicator and maps, is all a pilot needs to navigate the world.
  4. The altitude indicator is always one to watch. Don't go below 200ft!
  5. Any bar above or below the centre line indicates the angle of elevation.
  6. Check your thrust here. Max can only be achieved with the use of afterburners.
  7. The ever-so-clever F-15 computer displays a constantly moving 3D model of what is currently targeted, and even gives you its bearing and range.
  8. This little row of icons indicates what tracking systems any incoming missiles are using, and consequently what action should be take (e.g. letting a flare or some chaff fly).
  9. The weapons level indicators. Plenty of short, medium and long range missiles here, as you can no doubt see.
  10. The main map displays major land forms, plus friendly and enemy bases etc.
  11. The close up map offers zoom and also indicates major tagets etc.
THE MISSIONARY MAN
F-15 Strike Eagle II offers six playgrounds of war. Each scenario challenges the pilot in a different way, from the overt dogfighting of the Middle East, to hit and run tactics in the North Cape. Here's a selection of example missions, and an accompanying mid-flight shot, just to give you an idea what to expect.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Libya LIBYA
Across The Line Of death.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Libya
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Libya
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Persian Gulf PERSIAN GULF
Keeping The Sea Lanes Open
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Persian Gulf
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Persian Gulf
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Vietnam VIETNAM
The Longest Air War
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Vietnam
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Vietnam
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Middle East MIDDLE EAST
Eagles vs MiGs
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Middle East
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Middle East
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: North Cape NORTH CAPE
Into The Soviet's Backyard
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: North Cape
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: North Cape
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Central Europe CENTRAL EUROPE
Red Storm Raging
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Central Europe
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Central Europe

EARNING MY WINGS
One hour into my training, and I've decided to embarrass myself in front of the world. Take a trip with me and my trusty chunk of steel they call the F-15, on a peace-loving mission to reduce several things to dust. It's a dirty job, but you know the rest.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2: Pilot Level selected Okay, here we go. I've selected pilot level, which means I get the opportunity to take off. Any hostiles encountered will be pretty aggressive. F-15 Strike Eagle 2: North Cape selected I've selected the North Cape as my battleground. This means lots of snow in them there hills. Onto the missing briefing, and then time to fly.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
Here're the mission details. Knock out an enemy airbase at Polyornyy (wherever the hell that is), then take out a cargo ship at Kandalaksha. No problems.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
Here we go then. Start her up, taxi to the end of the runway and wait for the word from the tower.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
You are cleared for take off. Yahoo. Let's go. Rev the engine and burn that fuel (or something).
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
Wow, that was a perfectly executed take off! (I was destined to be with this aircraft).
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
And we're away. Time to lock onto that waypoint, and arm those air-to-ground missiles.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
Closing in on the enemy airstrip. Missile locked in. Time to launch. (Exciting, isn't it?)
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
Bullseye! One less enemy post to deal with. The smoke rises, as I prepare myself for the next target.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
That didn't take long. The ship is in my sights. Time to arm a missile, and blow that sucker away.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
Mmm. There's nothing quite like a nice external view to make your heart skip a bit. (How's that for a cool view?)
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
Oops. I got a bit carried away, and forgot to launch a missile. Better turn round and try again.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
Right, here we go. This is the big one. I'm going in nice and low, I can't possibly miss. (What a hero).
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
Yikes. I had the wrong missile type selected. It cruises off into the sunset.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
The shock is all too much, and I, well sort of crashed the F-15 into the sea. Whoops.

DEBRIEFING SCREENS
Time to review my performance. Not the most accomplished mission ever, but I guess you've got to begin somewhere.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
That's where I launched from. A perfect start to a bad day. On to incident two.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
That's the bit where I annihilated the airbase. What a guy. The pride of the air force. Top Gun, etc.
F-15 Strike Eagle 2
And, that's where I crashed. Whata schmuck. (Anyways, I always wanted to be a lumberjack).

F-15 Strike Eagle 2 logo CU Amiga Superstar

Microprose have again drawn inspiration from a PC game by their American branch. F15 II places you in the cockpit of the USAF's mainstay warplane, the Strike Eagle.

The first notable feature of F15 II is its speed. It's very fast. The horizon scrolls smoothly and at a speed, a feature which is rarely found in Amiga flight sims. The graphics on the external views are also good, the 3D is detailed and moves well. Although the graduated tint had to be cut from the main screen it does appear on the external views, and this adds to the overall effect. A director mode allows you to play in 3D mode with the computer automatically selecting the best view point from which to see the action.

The instrument panel is uncluttered and easy to understand. A radar in the centre shows all air and ground targets in your vicinity, a map helps guide you to your target, and a series of warning lights let you know how close your plane is to being knackered by an enemy missile.

Flying a multi-million pound warplane isn't as difficult as you might think, at least in this game it isn't. The keyboard is used to raise and lower the landing gear, select targets, change between weapons and set the engine power. The joystick fire button is used to fire the plane's machine gun, with the return key launching missiles, a system which is employed in nearly every flight sim and which can often prove awkward when you need to react in a split second.

Involve the plane in one of six scenarios: Libya, Vietnam, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, or Northern or Central Europe. The colour changes to suit each of the areas, the difficult level and the types of enemy you face.
After the scenario and difficulty level have been selected, the computer generates a random mission. A mission always consists of two targets, primary and secondary, both of which have to be destroyed if you don't want to return to base as a failure.

earn medals and promotions if a mission goes particularly well. These serve no purpose other than to demonstrate how well the pilot's doing - but reach a certain rank and yo could find yourself pensioned off.

The F15 comes with four different weapons: Sidewinder and Amraan air-to-air missiles, Maverick air-to-ground missiles and a 20mm cannon. The only defences against enemy fire are flares, which decoy heat-seeking missiles and chaff which confuses radar guided weapons. The last resort is always nifty manoeuvring. Personally I would have liked to have seen a few more weapons, but then again I've probably got some sort of gung-ho personality disorder.

The gameplay's very fast. From the moment you take off, SAM batteries open fire, and their fighters scramble. This pacing works a treat.

Without a doubt, F15 II is one of the most action packed flight sims on the Amiga. The gameplay resembles the arcade version of F15, and that can't be bad. A must for the collector.


EASE OF USE
Targets range from oil installations, which are easy targets as they don't fire back, to SAM sites which open fire the second they pick you up on radar and don't stop until you - or they - are destroyed.
On the harder levels the enemy pilots become more intelligent. They start taking evasive action against your missiles and outmanoeuvring your plane. Enemy equipment is also improved, so they start attacking at longer ranges with more accuracy.
Navigating is simple. An arrow at the top of the HUD points the way to the next target. Landing, as with most flight sims, is difficult. Fortunately, an auto-pilot feature has been included which guides trainee pilots down to Earth, without any embarrassing nose-dives...

F-15 Strike Eagle 2 logo Zero Hero

MicroProse/ £34.99/ Amiga out June/ ST out August

Amiga review Duncan: Hands up who wants to be a pilot? Hmmm. Quite a lot of you apparently. And some of you seem to have both hands up. Does this just mean that you're extremely keen to be a fighter pilot and what to emphasise the point, or does it mean that you want to be two fighter pilots Yes? Well, stop being silly and put one of your hands down because it's impossible to be two fighter pilots at the same time (although it is possible to be half a fighter pilot, just look at Douglas Bader). Anyway, so we all want to be fighter pilots do we? Good, because we're about to move into the realms of fast-moving modern air combat (yet again). In fact, in as far as flight sims on the Amiga go, you're about to witness the fastest one you've ever seen - in terms of both frame update and action.

The layout of the cockpit is instantly recognisable to anyone who's familiar with MicroProse flying games. It's got a good formula and it's sticking with it. You've got your zoom-in-and-Outable satellite map on the lft, your target module in the middle and, well, for want of a better word, your 3D-radar-cum-target-ID-doobrie in the box on the right.

Toggle the keys and you can cycle through any air or ground targets (if they're within range). And the HUD - that's the same as other MicroProse HUDs too. Well, almost. In fact, you may be thinking that it's all just like F-19 Stealth Fighter. And yes, to a certain extent it is. But only to a certain extent. Where F-15 II starts to break away from the mould is in the gameplay stakes. It's more arcadey.

Rather than taking off from A, flying for ages to B, flying for ages to C before being chased (for ages) back to A, it's more a case of taking off from A and instantly being in the middle of a frenzied dog-fight. B and C are still there to be destroyed of course, but the emphasis is on frantic action rather than time-consuming realism. (Unless you don't want it to be, in which case you can always piddle around on the options screen). Are you into landing planes? Great, you have control. Hate landing? Let the auto-pilot do it. And so on.

As usual, MicroProse has included a bevy of external views - 10 in the case of this game - including a rather brill 'director' option which flicks from view to view, but always keeps your plane in the centre of the action. That's the stuff!

Something else that's new is the number of scenarios. Four? No. Five? Guess again. 30? Now you're going over the top. There are six. (The Persian Gulf, Central Europe, North Cape, The Middle East, North Africa and Vietnam; and as you may know, MicroProse 'worlds' are massive). There are literally hundreds of different missions, but that doesn't mean that you can complete one and say "been there, seen it, done it". Nothing of the sort. The artificial intelligence routines of the enemy pilots have been zapped-up you see, meaning that a mission will play totally differently if you try it a second time around.

What with the difficulty levels catering for beginners and experts alike, the enormous size of the scenarios, the beautiful graphics and the super-fast animations, this incarnation of Strike Eagle II is... well, suffice to say that a male Alsatian would find them wobbling between it's rear legs. It's the dog's ... er... it's GOOD!