Amstrad Action

Advanced Tactical Fighter
By Digital Integration
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #31


Advanced Tactical Fighter

Only two months ago DI slid into the Mastergame slot with Bobsleigh and now they're flying high again with a combat simulation set in the near future. You're the pilot of the ATF and must seek and destroy enemy targets. It's a combination of flight simulator, arcade game and tactical wargame and you'll need to perfect all three before you become victorious.

The screen is split into two main areas: a large 3D view of the terrain from slightly above and to the rear of the aircraft, and around this the instrument panel. The 3D view also has a Head-Up-Display (HUD) at the top. which shows your thrust, speed, altitude, missile type, range and bearing of target and your bearing. Any other land, sea or air forces in view are shown as well as any targets.

The instrument panel has a short range scanner, computer, fuel gauge and message window. The short range scanner shows your position and the direction that you're flying, as well as any friendly or hostile military hardware in the vicinity. The fuel gauge warns of low fuel and any messages that crop up are displayed in the message window. Last, but by no means least, is the computer.

ATF: Advanced Tactical Fighter

The computer has four operating modes: world map, database, weapon status and ATF status. The world map shows your position and whatever your computer is locked on to. The weapon and ATF status modes show how much weaponry you have left and the efficiency of the important ATF functions. Database mode is probably the most important because without this you can't find your friends and foes.

Your ATF can be armed with any combination of three types of weaponry and also you need to keep it fuelled up. The three weapon types are: cannon, asraam missiles and maverick missiles. Cannon fire is only of use against enemy interceptors. Asraam missiles are joy-stick guided missiles and maverick missiles hit the target that they're locked onto, providing you're roughly facing the target and with-in range. Sometimes the targets take a couple of missile hits before they're destroyed.

There are two armies out there: your's and your enemy's. Battle between the two continues in addition to your own personal effort, but you're the one that can change the fate of the war. This is done by undertaking missions deep into enemy territory, avoiding, or better still destroying, enemy interceptors and unleashing a missile on the enemy target. Watch out for SAM missiles too because one hit from them brings you crashing to earth.

ATF: Advanced Tactical Fighter

You have three ATF and therefore have three lives. The five types of targets that need to destroyed are bases, tanks, ships, comms bases and factories. Bases are where aircraft are launched from, land and sea forces are blasting away at your allies, lack of communications means that the enemy forces are less well coordinated and industrial targets must be destroyed so that your enemy doesn't produce many new pieces of military hardware. You also should try your best to defend your allied targets for exactly the same reasons. After every mission you receive a war report which shows gains and losses for both sides, intelligence reports gathered using communications and a bar chart to show the balance of power. If the red bars are generally longer than the green then things aren't going too well for you.

Control of the ATF is much simpler than you'd expect for a simulation. There's automatic landing when you're close enough to an allied airbase, but you do have to manually put down the undercarriage. Another nice feature is the terrain-hugging option to keep you below enemy radar, although if you travel too fast in this mode you are likely to fly straight into a hill and destroy the aircraft. A beeping sound warns of incoming SAM missiles and you have to jam them quickly or be blasted from the skies. The 3D scrolling graphics are magnificent and the perspective is excellent. Colour is used to good effect, with different types of terrain being coloured differently. A pleasing tune greets your ears when you're not flying around, and the effects are snappy.

I was pleasantly surprised by this because I expected a flight simulator like Fighter Pilot. Instead there's much more of a game element. Strategy and arcade style action have been combined to give a game that has more to offer than a standard shoot-'em-up. Thought and tactical planning are essential for you to do well and there are eight skill levels, ranging from a rookie pilot up to an ATF ace. If Digital Integration keep on producing games like this then you've get a bright games playing future ahead of you.

First Day Target Score

ATF: Advanced Tactical Fighter

Win at rookie level.

Second Opinion

There aren't many games which you just have to have, but this is one of them. To start with you'll be wowed by the graphics, reminiscent of Combat Lynx, but with great speed. Then you'll be hooked by the amazing gameplay as you fly a few missions. Finally you'll start picking up on the tactics needed to achieve victory in this awe inspiring masterpiece. This isn't a one-day-wonder; it's a game you can play solidly for weeks, if not months.

Green Screen View

The action is as easy to see in green as it is in colour with the exception of the world map. It's colour-coded and as a result it's difficult to tell your enemies from your allies.

The Verdict

ATF: Advanced Tactical Fighter

Graphics 82%
P. Smooth, fast and flicker-free 3D scrolling.
N. World map is a little tricky to interpret.

Sonics 63%
P. Lovely tune on menu screens.
P. Cracking in-game effects too.

Grab Factor 93%
P. Simple control of the plane makes it an easy game to get into.
P. Elements of arcade action and strategy, combined to appeal to most players.

Staying Power 95%
P. Eight skill levels to play on.
P. Missions are always long and eventful.
P. Winning the war is an immense challenge.

Overall 94%
Digital Integration do it again with yet another piece of superb software.


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