When you think of flight simulations, the first company that springs to mind is MicroProse, purveyors of such quality products as Knights of the Sky, F-15 Strike Eagle, F-19 Stealth (F-117A's forerunner) and the legendary Gunship.
When you glance at that list it makes fairly impressive reading. In fact, the ony two products that have come out of the MicroProse stable and gone slightly lame on take-off were the over-
It seems that for quite a while now MicroProse have churned out nothing but extravaganzas in the air, and they appear to have approached every conceivable flight simulation feasible. What could they possibly simulate this time? They've done them all - modern warfare in the skies, old-style dogfighting, fighter simulations, bomber simulations - the lot.
What could be next? After several hours of rocking my brain, thinking of every conceivable type of military and commercial jet known to mankind, I finally hit on what it was that MicroProse were going to simulate this time around.
Yes indeedy folks, MicroProse are proud to present their latest true-to-
MicroProse are guaranteeing that Pigeon' will be able to totally accurately replicate the real McCoy. It'll come equipped with a modern chip-
Beginning as a young chick, you'll start at the flight egg-
Pass these basic tests and you'll be sent into action in one of the many town centre zones. Fly dangerous bombing missions around national monuments such as Trafalgar Square, using your laser-
Fly life-threatening sorties into political hotspots around the world. Flap your way into the Far East and avoid ending up as Bombay Duck. Enjoy the carnal pleasures of reproduction and push your flight skills to the limit. Flap carefully as you attempt the highly risky mid-air-
Actually, imagine my surprise when their new product turned out to be not a pigeon simulator but in fact F-117A Stealth Fighter. Envisage my immediate disappointment at finding out that there would be no emu, duck or owl data disks, just another aeroplane sim.
However, the Stealth Fighter or Nighthawk (sounds like one of the Gladiators) is no ordinary plane. During the Gulf War it proved it was entirely worth the massive investment by its manufacturer, Lockheed.
Although there were only a handful of them involved, within hours of the first day of war they had completely crippled the Iraqi air defence network. Having flown invisibly through hundreds of miles of electronic enemy eyes the F-117As had paved the way for the rest of the coalition airforce and given the allies almost total air supremacy.
With this type of success it now comes as no surprise that MicroProse opted for Stealth as opposed to the pigeon simulator.
As is usual with MicroProse products, Stealth comes with a manual absolutely crammed to the rafters with information about the plane, its equipment and armament. After this spurious form of training it's time to embark, and march in hob-nailed boots down to the main roster room.
The first thing to say is that F-117A is not one, but two simulators in one. The main MicroProse simulator has a bias towards action, combat and missions. Conversely, the Lockheed version is much truer to reality, but features less dog-
Once you have decided whether to take realism or action, you can take a stroll into the commanding officer's office (having knocked first of course) and choose a theatre to operate within.
Now, the interesting thing about F-117A is that unlike most sims, it has different dimensions to its level of conflict. You can operate in a cold war state or go for full-blooded, all-out conventional warfare.
What this means is that there are far more mission types at your disposal. For example, in a cold war scenario you will be sent on more surveillance missions where the emphasis is on discretion.
You can also select more specific aspects to the mission, like whether it is an air-to-
As you've already probably gathered, Stealth has a million and one options to choose from, and every conceivable stetting to place yourself in. There isn't really space to go through all of the choices available, but rest assured you have every type of rocket, missile and munition to ponder over.
We've been assured that this time the interior of the Stealth is as accurate as can be achieved on a computer screen. This is because the programmers actually got the opportunity to climb aboard the real McCoy and study it at close range.
Playwise, F-117A has all the features you've come to expect from MicroProse. Internally all of the advanced technologies you'd expect are included on Stealth. It has state of the art HUDs, radars and armament facilities for you tp play with an practise on.
To fly successfully you're going to need all your flight sim skills. While the Nighthawk has all the up-to-
During the missions the action comes thick and fast, with you up against some of the top strike aircraft in the world like the dreaded MiG-29.
The graphical world of the Stealth fighter is vast, detailed and very cleverly blended into the missions. For example, when your mission brief is to destroy the palatial residence of Saddam Hussein, you get a full view of Baghdad as you fly towards it. On all machines the graphics are pretty slick and well define. While Stealth obviously performs a lot quicker on the A1200, the standard Amiga handles it pretty well. This is no mean feat as the amount of ground detail is high.
There are some really nice touches within F-117A that warm you towards it, especially the attention to detail. For instance, when flying in one of the all rich nations, don't be surprised to see rigs scattered left, right and centre. Also, on night missions you'll see an extremely picturesque moon and star-
Over the years there's been a whole squadron of flight sims, some good, some bad and some indifferent. Stealth Fighter definitely comes under the heading of good, because it contains that little bit extra.
Graphically the engine is reminiscent of Gunship 2000, which can't ever be a bad thing. The difference is that Stealth is a more polished product.
On a personal level, I prefer Gunship 2000, but that really is a slightly unfair comparison as it is the top sim on the Amiga. For Stealth to have even entered the same runway as GS 2000 is saying a lot.
Stealth Fighter really is a quality product, and will thrill jet flight sim enthusiasts all over the globe. I suggest that all you budding fighter pilots don your cloak and stealthily step out to buy this excellent flight simulation.