Nighthawk F117-A Stealth Fighter 2.0 logo Gamer Gold

Second time around for MicroProse with the Stealth Fighter, the big question being: is it still healthy to be stealthy?

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.

More recently, Dogfight and the highly popular Gunship 2000 have graced the shelves, and indeed the top of the charts of your local software emporium.

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-ambitious Flying Fortress and the underrated WWI flight strategy Ancient Art of War.

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-life flight of fantasy - Codename Flying Rat: Pigeon Simulator.
MicroProse are guaranteeing that Pigeon' will be able to totally accurately replicate the real McCoy. It'll come equipped with a modern chip-seeking beak, one gammy leg, people-finding guided excretion missiles and completely knackered wings (I'm not sure they all have, but they do where I live).

Beginning as a young chick, you'll start at the flight egg-cademy where you'll learn flight theory. From there it's on to serious missions as a rookie. Starting on single missions you'll begin as a young flying learner. You'll be set such tasks as basic back garden take-off and landing manoeuvres, moving on to land-on-the-garden-fence stunts with enemy ginger Toms crawling all over the area.

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-guided excretion missiles to seek out freshly coiffured hair. Avoid being squashed by the traffic as you waddle around roadsides in an attempt at being the dumbest creature on two legs.

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-link-up with the hen of your choice. Plus, in true MicroProse fashion, all the action can be viewed from a multitude of angles. Some of the most interesting are the external shots, especially the pigeon's bombsight view.

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-fighting. However, on both versions you can toggle through and adjust everything form the ground detail to the skill of the enemy.

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-air dogfight or a target strike mission.

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-minute technology, its realism and the amount of buttons you have to operate make it a tough little cookie to handle.

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-filled sky, which make for that little bit more realism.

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.


What do those flashy lights mean?
Nighthawk F117-A Stealth Fighter 2.0
  1. HUD Mode indicator lights
  2. Head-up display
  3. Angle of attack
  4. Damage
  5. Defence indicator
  6. Electro-magnetic visibility
  7. Left multi-function: satellite, radar, tactical display
  8. Tracking camera FLIR indicators
  9. Right multi-function: tracking, navigation, flight info, payload
  10. Fuel and thrust display
  11. Artificial horizon
  12. Equipment indicators

Tread the boards in all these theatres of war
Nighthawk F117-A Stealth Fighter 2.0
  1. Central Europe, 1986
  2. North Cape, 1985
  3. Cuba, 1995
  4. Libya, 1986
  5. Middle East, 1989
  6. Desert Storm - Iraq, 1991
  7. Persian Gulf, 1984
  8. Vietnam, 1994
  9. Korea, 1997

Nighthawk F117-A Stealth Fighter 2.0 logo Amiga Format Gold

From the deserts of the Middle East to the killing fields of Cambodia, there is only one plane guaranteed to strike fear in the maddest dictator's heart. Stealth Fighter 2.0 is here...

Flight sims, eh? Most of them are about as exciting as watching the M25 video, or a driver's eye view of the rail journey from Aberdeen to Penzance. They come with manuals the size of bungalows and instructions which you need a degree in Physics to understand. Sheehsh! You have to admit, though, that some are rather better than others and MicroProse have earned themselves a fat fortune making games that are just that.

F-117A is the long awaited sequel to the fantabulous F-19 Stealth Fighter, one of the best flight sims ever, and shares Gunship 2000's extremely playable game engine.

For Stealth's second excursion into the world's abttlezones, MicroProse have enlisted the help of some of the world's biggest trouble spots - Central Europe, the Persian Gulf, Cuba, Korea and Vietnam - and supply you with an infinite variety of suicidal missions for you to throw your Amiga at.

To make the gameplay even more interesting, you also get three levels of conflict - Cold War, where you can be penalised for attacking unspecified targets; Limited War, where you can kind of do what you want as long as no-one finds out about it; and Conventional War, where you can shoot jettisoning pilots, napalm villages and cause people to flutter their order papers at the UN and get rewarded for it.

But hang on. You have got to learn to fly the thing first. F-117A also gives you the option to carry out training missions in all the different theatres of war, so you can get used to the levels of opposition awaiting you, with an infinite supply of ammo and parachutes. This is a pretty neat idea since you are not penalised for ploughing into hillsides or flying off in a completely different direction all together and going to visit your mum, or something.

Take off and destroy
If you have never played a flight sim before, the sight of all those controls, hot-keys and weapon ptions can be a bit bewildering, especially when you have just been jumped by a squadron of MiGs and are in full-flight panic mode. Even if you manage to take off and destroy successfully, there is always a tricky carrier landing in the Bay of Pigs waiting for you on your return. Practice like your life depends on it.

Things are rather less sweet when it comes to doing the missions themselves. You usually have two or three objectives to achieve in a single sortie, so weapons and fuel are often at a premium. Waste all your cluster bombs on Saddam's palace and you have nothing left to chuck at the chemical weapons factory down the road.

Some missions do not call on you to use any weapons at all, you just have to fly over specified targets and photograph them for the boffins back at base, while avoiding all the radar-guided missiles homing in on your tail. You can also choose whether to play air-combat or ground strike missions, though most seem to be a mixture of both.

F-117A is the kind of game you are either going to love or loathe. MicroProse seem to churn these things out with alarming regularity and most of them are pretty top-notch, state-of-the-art stuff. This offers you some extremely nifty graphics, night-flying options - complete with twinkling stars and moon - and all the usual slot and remote camera views you expect.

The missions are varied and become increasingly complex as your skills as pilot and tactician progress, but the Stealth proves to be extremely easy to fly and you are soon zooming around the enemy's airspace like the fighter ace you secretly know you are.


The plot hardly captures the innocent charm and fun of the film

Take off and destroy
F-117A's many missions will have you hammering the baddies until the next real world war starts.

Getting yourself safely back to base is a much trickier proposition, especially when you are expected to land on the narrow deck of an aircraft carrier. It takes a fiendish amount of practice to get it right and it is often easier to just bail out or ditch into the sea. Total cowards can opt for the No Crashes option - which at least gets you back on the ground in one piece - but an Autopilot Landing option would have been a much less messy proposition.

Despite these drawbacks, F-117A is very, very good. The 3D graphics are marvellous, the sound effects realistic and the missions will have you hammering the baddies until the next real war starts. This won't be an essential buy if you already own loads of flight sims, but it is a cracking game nevertheless.



Nighthawk F117-A Stealth Fighter 2.0 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Nach einer fast zweijährigen Konvertierungsphase kommt nun die große Überraschung aus dem MicroProse-Hangar gerollt: Eine Umsetzung des Mega-Flugis, die das PC-Original tatsächlich noch überflügelt!

Chronologisch gesehen, ist F-117A der nachfolger zu "F-19 Stealth Fighter", von der Sache her handelt es sich eher um ein Quasi-Update. Wie beim Vorgänger kann man wieder zwischen zwei verschiedenen Varianten des Tarnkappenbombers wählen: einer "MicroProse-Version", die auf den im Vorfeld gesammelten Informationen der Programmierer beruht, un dem tatsächlich von der U.S. Army eingesetzten Modell. Letzteres ist natürlich realistischer, der andere Entwurf läßt sich dafür besser bewaffnen.

Die neun Szenarios heißen Kuwait ("Wüstenstorm"), Mittlerer Osten, Persischer Golf, Libyen, Nordkorea, Vietnam, Zentraleuropa, Nordkap und Kuba im Jahre 1995. Zudem wurde der Missions-Generator für den Amiga extra nochmals aufgebohrt und ermöglicht jetzt Tausende von Aufträgen, die unter Zuhilfenahme von 18 Waffen-Sorten absolviert werden - man kann das Feuerwerk dabei selbst zusammenstellen oder en bloc vom Programm übernehmen.

All die Standard-Features wie Innen- und Au"enansichten, tag- und Nachteinsätze, Zeitraffer, Bordkamera, Ersatztank, Einsatzbesprechungen und abschließende Manöverkritikgibt es natürlich ebenfalls; dazu ein ganz neues, wiederum speziell für unsere "Freundin": Neben dem Trainingsmodus und der "Resupply"-Option erleichtert nun eine Teleporter-Funktion unerfahrenen Piloten den Umgang mit den komplexen Feuervögerln.

Bei der Wertung kann man sich hier wirklich kurzfassen, denn F-117A dürfte derzeit schlicht die beste Flugsimulation für den Amiga sein. In Sachen Spieltiefe schlägt das Programm "Combat Air Patrol" um Längen, die Steuerung (vorzugsweise per Stick, Maus, und Tastatur gehen auch), funktioniert tadellos, und der explosive Begleitkrach kmmt auch ganz ordentlich aus dem Lautsprecher.

Aber der wahre Knaller ist die wesentlich detailreicher gewordene Grafik: Vor allem nachts wirkt die Optik realistischer als alles, was diesbezüglich bisher am Monitor zu sehen war! Stellt man den Detailgrad ungefähr auf "F-19" Niveau ein, bewegt sich die Graik schon am 500er flüssig und flott - auf der allerhöchsten Detailstufe ruckelt sie dagegen selbst auf einem 1200er leicht, aber auch damit kann man leben. Zumal als zusätzliches Bonbon ein von knackiger Heavy Metal-Musik untermaltes Intro geliefert wird.

So weit, so hervorragend, bloß hat F-117A gegenüber dem Vorflieger halt letztlich nicht sooo wahnsinnig viel Neues zu bieten. Eine Umtauschaktion für "F-19"-Besitzer wäre sicher die fairste Lösung gewesen, aber es hat wohl nicht sollen sein. Daher muß schon jeder selbst entscheiden, ob ihm der neue Renommier-Flugi ami Amiga die Investitition wert ist - enttäuschend wird das Spiel Gewiß niemanden! (mm)



Nighthawk F117-A Stealth Fighter 2.0 logo

Yet another flight sim - another stealth one, too. Déjà vu, but it is quality stuff.

The Gulf War, eh? The ultimate showcase of American military supremacy on land, sea and air. And although we did not get too much hard and fast logistical information at the time, it soon became apparent that the stars of the show were the Lockheed stealth fighters.

They neutralised the eyes and ears of the enemy with short succinct surgical surprises. Lightly armed but practically invisible to enemy radar, the stealths emasculated the might of the fourth largest army of the world. Whether you are a pacifist or an out-and-out supporter of the forces of capitalist pig imperialism, you could not help but be impressed by the precision and effectiveness of the laser-guided missile strikes.

So with that out of the way, let us F117A from MicroProse. As is openly admitted in the manual, the sim is basically an upgraded and overhauled version of F19 Stealth Fighter. In fact they are so similar that owners of F19 can just jump into the cockpit, so to speak, and start fluing. The sim starts with the usual natty intro animation of tae off, flight, then a super-exciting targeting and laser-guided bombing sequence.

So what is it that is so exciting about the F117A? For a start, it operates on a system known as fly-by-wire. In other words, your plane is not directly controlled by the pilot. His joystick and switch controls are interpreted by the on-board computer and translated into servo ction of the plane's flaps, weapons systems and so on. Here comes the surprise, though - on its own, the F117 would be aerodynamiccaly unflyable.

The computer continually updates incoming data and thus keeps the plane in the air. You could be forgiven for thinking that this would make a difference to the actual feel of the simulation. Unfortunately it does not. The plane feels and responds much the same manner as any other flight sim from MicroProse; there is a slight delay before any action is implemented.

STICKY FINGERS
MicroProse consistently support analogue joysticks in flight sims, so I tried the Freeflight Analog from Spectravideo. 'Ha ha,' you may be thinking, 'the Freeflight is configured for the PC!' (I do not think many of our readers will be thinking that, Steve. Let it go. - Ed). Cunningly, I also used a Suncom Analog joystick adaptor which lets you use most PC joysticks with the Amiga. The pair work well, and there is even a noticeable difference using different sensitivity settings (configured from a panel within the sim software).

MicroProse always understate the difference that using analogue can make the difference this makes when banking and turning could be a positive life-safer. But anyway.

So what is the big difference between between F117A and F19? For a start, F117A has many more missions set in a wider range of world theatres: Persian Gulf, Europe's North Cape, Libya, Central Europe, Middle East, Desert Storm, Vietnam 1994, Cuba 1995 and Korea 1997.

The futuristic ones are positively exhilarating. Just think - Korea 1997! Already, the Chinese have told President Clinton where to go when he complained about them testing nuclear bombs. The North Koreans are getting up to mischief with their present nuclear program. Considering that the North Koreans and the Chinese are pals, it augurs well for a pretty stimulating conflict scenario. Education through destruction, diplomacy and paranoia, I say.

The most strategic targets are discussed in a clinical 'level of importance' type manner. Geography lessons would be much more fun if they were taught this way at school. "Pýongyang? Yes, sir. I blew up several of its prime SAM radar sites in my F117A stealth fighter, you know. It is the capital of orea. They will think twice before they carry on with their Communist expansion programme".

In general, the location decides the type of conflict you can enter into; Cold War, Limited War and yer normal Conventional War. Cold War scenarios are probably the least exciting, except to those of you who prefer a really difficult challenge without shooting or blowing anuthing up. Lmited War is a constrained series of tit-for-tat retaliatory measures. You have to follow orders to the letter and have limited freedom of engagement.

Conventional War is probably the most fun. You you're your prime objectives, but anything else I the way can be considered fair game. And that brings us nicely to the plane itself.


Lightly armed bu practically invisible to radar.

DOUBLE STEALTH
MicroProse have implemented two types of F117 - the original Lockheed and the MicroProse version. The Lockheed has a smaller payload, you do not have a front-mounted cannon, cannot carry air-to-air missiles and you can only fly at night. This option is for the real buffs. You cannot affor to make a mistake. One target, one bomb and you cannot even arm yourself with the Texas Instruments Paveway III; responsible for only five per cent of the total ordnance expended during Desert Storm but accounting for 50 per cent of targets destroyed.

Most of us will settle for MicroProse's compromise stealth fighter. It has a slightly larger radar signature area but more than makes up for this with its larger payload and ability to engage in air-toa-ir combat and fly during daylight hours. The disconcerting part of air-toa-air combat in this sim is the fact that you do not have a radar yourself with which to track bogeys (radar gives you away immediately). Reliance on visual sighting and tracking cameras is essential if you wish to survive.

Navigation, planning and a good memory are crucial if you want to live. The briefing room displays the plans of enemy radar footprints. In an operation known a 'threading the needle', you have to negotiate these siteswithout giving yourself away. Manage this, and the rest is not as easy as pie.

This is, as usual, a slick, competent, technically excellent sim from MicroProse. It is just that apart from some of the extras such as the futuristic missions and the in-depth discussion of radars and things, we have seen it all before. Flight sim fans will still love it, though, as will those new to the Amiga-owning fraternity.