F-16 Combat Pilot (Digital Integration) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

F-16 Combat Pilot
By Digital Integration
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #68

F-16 Combat Pilot

The alarm sounds and the corresponding warning light starts to wink on the control panel. There's an incoming missile locked onto your afterburners. Pull back on the yoke and climb, spiraling to try to break the lock, dropping flares to try to confuse the missile. Now you see the cause of your problems - a Mig 29 a couple of miles distant, and he's in your sights. Now it's your turn to watch him try desperately to avoid your sidewinder...

Modern air warfare is the name of the game. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a modern single-seat fighter plane. It excels in dogfights, and is also capable of bombing missions - taking out ground targets with its 'intelligent' weapons system.

You are that pilot. There are a variety of missions waiting for you, so it's chocks away! You could be downing incoming Migs, destroying advancing enemy artillery or taking out strategic targets. In fact, you may choose the mission. Five are available initially.

A sixth, Operation Conquest, is only available to those who have successfully completed all the other missions. It puts you in an all-out war scenario against the enemy. The idea is to force them to surrender by reducing their operational capability and morale. But while you're taking them out, they'll be after targets on your side of the fence...

The other options available are quickstart, for those eager to get off the ground, and training, where the enemy don't shoot back.

The next thing to do is set waypoints. These aid you in directing you to your targets. The targets' co-ordinates are punched into the navigation computer. In flight this information is translated into a bearing to fly on, as well as telling you the range and your estimated arrival time.

Many weapons are available. For air-to-air combat you have heat-seeking Sidewinders and Amraam radar-guided missiles. Ground targets can be taken out with a variety of laser guided, infra red and anti radiation missiles, depending on the target type. If you're unsure, you can ask for the Crew's Choice, which gives you a suggested set-up.

Then it's up into the big blue yonder. You're sat on the runway... open the throttle... pull pack on the joystick... and you're away!

There's no time to admire the scenery, though. You're on a mission, and it's down to you to carry it out successfully. Help is at hand, though. The F-16 is one of the world's most advanced fighter planes, offering Head Up and Multi Function Displays (HUD and MFD), as well as an Up Front Control Panel (UFCP). Basically, this means that all the information you need can be displayed conveniently, without it all becoming too much of a muddle.

It's unlikely that you'll reach your target without incident, though. Enemy fighter patrols are likely to intercept, and you've no choice but to blow 'em out of the sky. You're alerted to their presence via the radio, and will see them as a dot on your radar. Switch the MFD to Air Combat mode and select your air-to-air missiles. Swing towards the target. When the missile 'locks', let it go and get the hell out before a missile is launched at you.

Targeting is fully automatic, thanks to the intelligent weapons system. Point the plane roughly in the direction that you want to fire in - if the target is visible and you have the correct missile type selected, a 'lock-on' diamond appears. Stab the Fire button and leave your weapon to do the rest. It's seldom necessary to get closer than a few miles from the target, be it ground-based or airborne.

Landing is one of the trickiest things in any flight sim. We've all felt the disappointment of completing a mission, downing several enemy aircraft en route, only to total the plane on the runway. F-16 allows you to cheat. As long as you line yourself up on the correct approach so that you're inside the ILS beam, the computer can be made to 'take over'.

You're given a rating on how well you flew at the end of each mission. Mission Effectiveness is judged on how many of the mission targets were destroyed. Your Kill Rating is calculated on the number of missiles fired over the number of enemy taken out.

Your view is from inside the cockpit. The bulk of the lower half of the screen is taken up by the MFD instrumentation, along with banks of warning lights and indicators. The top half depicts the wireframe outside world, with your HUD superimposed on top. The scenery moves around quickly, and though not terribly interested to look at, is slick enough to be believable.

There's a lot to learn. Simply strapping your-self into the ejector seat and taking off is likely to result in a quick death. The accompanying manual is comprehensive, though, and gets you used to the concepts and controls without too much pain. It contains much information about attacking and defensive manoeuvres too. A quick reference sheet is also included and gives you an at-a-glance overview of the controls and instrument layout.

Once you've got to grips with flying the plane, F-16 Combat Pilot is great fun! It's easy to become engrossed in the mission, and when the alarm sounds the arrival of an incoming missile, a true sense of panic overtakes you.

Flight sims are not everybody's cup of tea, but F-16 Combat Pilot is the best there is.

Second Opinion

There is very little competition on the flight sim scene on the Amstrad, and so this is a polished and accurate addition to the genre. Very good indeed, Chocks away Ginger!

First Day Target Score

Complete the scramble mission.


Graphics 68%
Very fast, but unsophisticated wireframe graphics.

Sonics 50%
Little to listen to, but engine noise and the occasional warning signal.

Grab Factor 82%
Plenty of manual-reading is necessary before you can play properly.

Staying Power 96%
There's always going to be one more mission to fly.

Overall 92%
F-16 Combat Pilot is fast and fun. It must be one of the slickest flight simulators around!

Adam Waring

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