F-29 Retaliator (Ocean) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


F-29 Retaliator
By Ocean
Amiga 500

Published in Zzap #57

F-29 Retaliator

Flying high with Ocean's debut flight simulation

Ocean's first flight sim is certainly ambitious, simulating not only the next generation of fighters, but also the jets to replace them.

Retaliator begins with the pilot entrolling in the Air Force at any of five ranks (1st Lieutenant up to Colonel). Once cleared for pilot status by a retina-scan security routine your military career can begin. You can either go direct into war with the arcade-style Zulu Alert, starting in mid-air with unlimited weapons, or pick a scenario. Serious pilots will start at the Arizona Test Range, but there's also three warzones to visit. You can choose either an F-29 or an F-22, and must stick to it through your saved career.

The Test Range is your best bet if you want to get the feel of your new aerial 'office'. Various remotely-controlled targets and drones are scattered throughout the 1,000-old miles making up the Range. Tanks, trucks, bridges, industrial plants, command centres, airbases, SAM sites and more provide target fodder for ground attacks while drone MiG-29 Fulcrums practice patrols around the Range skies, eager for an air-to-air to take them out. Get the plane up into the wild blue yonder and you'll immediately notice the smooth control and incredible agility of the aircraft.

But thankfully you don't need to be a genius to fly the planes. Three console monitors provide all the data you need to perform your mission, selecting through the display brings up an amazing array of radars, indicators and moving maps. External views are also available for you to admire yourself from, as is a view from a satellite. Auto-pilot is provided, with electronic countermeasures (ECM, which jams radar), plus chaff and flares (to distract enemy missiles).

While you're in the States, it's a good idea to put the aircraft's weapons to the test, there's five types of air-to-air missile to choose from, and four types of air-to-surface missile, all highly advanced and 'smart' with it. Load up with whatever weapon you want and use them to the full on the test range.

In the warzones you may well experience weapon shortages, so this may be the best chance you get to play around with AGM-10H Cruise Missiles, Back-Winders, Conventional Stand Off Weapons and the rest.

In the 21st Century, the future of air power will be a mixture of superlative fighter agility and stealth tactics which is where the ATF fits right in. Shut down all the radars and the aircraft enters 'Stealth' mode, vital for passing through defence zones crammed full of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and heavy radar coverage. For high speed, high level flights kick in the Super-cruise to thrust up to 100%.

Right, enough of this introductory talk. It's time to get into combat. Through the main option screen you can select the theatre of conflict. The three warzones are all hot spots for the US in the next 20 years and you're in the thick of it. Choose from the Middle East, the Pacific Solomos Islands (a USA colony rich in oil deposits but under threat from enemy naval attack and invasion) and the Big One - conventional war in Central Europe.

Once a warzone is selected you find yourself in Mission Control. From here you can select the type of plane you want to fly, the base you want to start the tour of duty from, the armament and finally the mission to undertake. The ten Arizona Test Missions were merely the beginning because now you've got an enemy going all out to conquer, and ready to fire back at you with extreme prejudice!

Like real life, you can't tackle a mission that theoretically occured towards the end of the war; after all, you've only just started! Only by completing missions and surviving the air way do more missions come to light (in the form of War Updates). For instance, in the Pacific warzone the first few missions aren't too demanding at all (down a few MiGs, hit a small enemy oil depot, and so on) but with time the war situation changes, new War Updates appear, and ever harder different missions crop up (ranging from crippling a Super Tanker to defending the New Jersey from all out attack, or even taking on an Aircraft Carrier!).


In the good few years that I've been into flight simulations I've seen quite a bit of bad but more often than not quite a bit of good. So too was the classic Project Stealth Fighter on the C64. Up until today, this was my all-time favourite: now F-29 Retaliator is the way forward. When you take the superlative flight handling and realism of Falcon and couple it with the outstanding mission depth of F-16 Combat Pilot you suddenly find yourself with what I must regard as the best flight simulation I have *ever* seen (and there's nothing on the visible horizon that looks set to come close).

The realism of flight is extremely fluent and convincing (made all the more exciting considering the current lack of ATFs to compare it with). Then there's the graphic quality which inches the whole flight simulation field ever nearer to those multi-million pound Rediffusion full-blown flight sims.

Throw in infinite depth, with a mind-blowing number of missions, four totally different warzones, masses of enemies to fight, and first class presentation at every point in the game and you have a program that is everything I could possibly have hoped for in a flight simulation.

In fact, it's not a simulation, it's an experience.


Ocean have always been known for their fun, arcade-style games and apart from Top Gun haven't come within F-29 range of a flight sim.

Since I'm normally bored stiff by flight sims, that hasn't bothered me, but now they have and... it's great. Like Interceptor a few years back, F-29's got the incredible graphics, presentation and 'idiot/arcade' skill levels to get absolute beginners involved.

The 3D effect is extremely attractive and unbelievably fast (embarrassingly so when it comes to flying the plane). The plane alone boasts a very large number of polygons, plus highly convincing shading as well.

Fly around the warzones on a sight-seeing trip and you may well spot tanks engaged in fierce combat, SAM sites moments before they fire at you (Gulp!) and cooling towers with nuclear reactors nearby to bomb (Double gulp!). The islands in the Pacific scenario are wonderful to see, with sandy beaches and shallows all around - I haven't played many flight sims in my time but this is undoubtedly the best-looking one I've seen.

In fact, I've had such great fun in the arcade option, where I don't have to bother with the engines, landing, radars, etc, that I may well start on the serious stuff.

Biggles Hogg, here I come!


While I, like Robin, am a great fan of military aircraft, until now I'd never been hooked on a sim. F-16 Combat Pilot had the depth, but its realistic toughness could be irritating while Falcon still lacks any real depth of scenario even with the Mission Disk.

First impressions of F-29 are set by a great rock track and some utterly mouth-watering graphics. To plane buffs like me the futuristic aircraft are exciting, while to others the hi-tech displays and superlative performance are a great jump over the ancient F-16.

For the first few hours you just whiz around admiring the graphics at 'idiot' level: the massive aircraft, the amazing battlefields with battalions of tanks skirmishing, and the superbly contoured islands. Ocean have provided the easy accessibility of Interceptor with state-of-the-art graphics and an amazing depth of play. It's going to be a lot of late nights with this one, I'm afraid!


Presentation 92%
While the manual isn't anything like MicroProse War And Peace efforts, it is still very informative and matched by the wealth of options and peripheral screens.

Graphics 96%
Beautifully detailed, fast moving polygon graphics together with immensely varied ground detail.

Sound 94%
Great rock track, plus amazing sound FX from gunshots to the groan of the pilot during high-G turns!

Hookability 94%
Flight sim enthusiasts will go for it instantly, while novices will be tempted by the outstanding graphics.

Lastability 98%
Complete a scenario on the lowest of skill levels and you've still got a long way to go before tiring of this beauty.

Overall 97%
Ocean's first flight sim is the best out, and an incredibly fun game!