Amstrad Action


Fighter Bomber

Author: Trenton Webb
Publisher: Activision
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #59

Fighter Bomber

Happiness is a laser-locked target. Fear is a locked SAM. Trouble is they tend to coincide. Fighter Bomber gives desktop-pilots a taste of both with an adventure in techno-war, as four nations try to bomb each other out of contention for the Curtis Le May Trophy.

Four classic Fighter Bombers sit armed, fuelled and ready to rock South Dakota. A McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom, a Panavia Tornado IDS, A Saab AJ37 Viggen and a MIG-27 Flogger D are yours to try and fly. State of the art low-level weapons delivery systems, they're all capable of incredible performance. Which is just as well, as somewhere out on the test range are ground forces with the latest anti-aircraft systems primed, ready to blow you out of the sky.

Fighter Bomber

Bomber pilots have eight missions and a practice mode - the latter lets you get the feel of how each plane handles, how fast it can fly, how quickly it turns. In combat, you must assess its suitability for the mission and each weapon's effectiveness.

Bomber's missions get progressively tougher, the exercises simulating modern aerial warfare. The war zone is South Dakota and the missiles don't carry explosive warheads, but don't let that fool you, this is no pushover. The difficulty increases at the perfect pace to keep pilots on the edge of their ejector seats and scrap metal merchants stocked for months.

The emphasis of each mission is not - surprisingly - bombing things. Tents, tanks, buildings and people all get the treatment. Nowadays there's very little bomb aiming to be done, it's a case of arming weapons 25 miles out, 'locking' them on a target and letting rip with a video guided missile. At that range, though, it's hard to know whether the little white 'locked' target cursor is actually on that tank, or the office block behind it. And to dissuade cocky pilots from shooting everything 'just to make sure', blasting the locals earns a taste of their SAMs as well as the enemies.

Fighter Bomber

It's the logistics of the game that make Fighter Bomber such a challenge. You've got to select instrument layouts. The Viggen, for example, is the fastest but falls like a brick if a climb's too steep. And instruments in odd places can be fatal if you don't spot that an infra-red missile's locked on to your afterburners.

The variety of weapons is limited but is all that is needed for the missions involved. Initially you're limited to a few air-to-air Sidewinders, a bunch of video guided Maverick air-to-ground rockets and a 30mm cannon. If the mission's incomplete and all you've got left is the old pop gun, you know you're in trouble!

Modern warplanes are fast - stunningly fast - and to be a successful simulation Bomber had to convey the dangerous thrill of Mach 1 at treetop level! It's quick, and the screen updates with a smooth speed unknown to its forerunners. There's little real scenery, with no trees, few buildings and mountains that look like Egyptian leftovers, and the targets are simple blocks until you get real close.

Fighter Bomber

This lack of landscape detail is balanced neatly by the amount of crammed in everywhere else. Numerous views of the plane are available for the pilot - although they're of little use apart from checking your wheels are down! Only the view from the airbase control tower is any help, because using its zoom function you can check which way home is!

Bomber succeeds as simulation but it has its puzzling points as a game. The missions, are varied in theme and target, but can only be accessed sequentially. So, if you don't finish your current challenge, there's no chance to try a new mission. Which means if you hit a problem, you're stuck until you solve it.

Vektor Graphics will amaze you with what they've managed to crammed into Fighter Bomber. It's crisp, clear, colourful and moves at speed which makes it the undisputed air ace. The sonics leave a lot to be desired with a few cursory whines, whistles and explosions. But then, that's what the volume control's for!

Fighter Bomber rules the CPC skies, it's quite simply Chuck Yeager with the added bonus of things to kill. To begin with, the challenges are easy enough, but soon the difficulty escalates to an exceptionally realistic degree. Annoyingly, there aren't enough missions to last really good pilots, and beginners could well get get stuck on the earlier levels.

Fighter Bomber gives you the chance to play with the high-tech toys normally reserved for military personnel. Once mastered, little beats the thrill of an expertly executed manoeuvre that tests every inch of the plane's design.

Second Opinion

Easier to fly than most flight sims - and fast! You get to shoot things too, and that makes a good game great!

First Day Target Score

Complete level two.

Green Screen View

Some instruments are harder to read, but the game is still playable.

Verdict

Graphics 91% P. Brilliant, high speed 3D. P. So many views of so many planes!

Sonics 51% P. Tolerable tunes. N. It's whine time.

Grab Factor 69% P. Early missions are real easy. N. A toughie for new pilots.

Staying Power 89% P. Six very hard missions. N. Only six!

Overall 89% It's war and it's brilliant!

Trenton Webb

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