Here's one for all of you "flight and fight" simulation fans. It's Air Combat from Namco! This coin-op flying game is about as cool as they come. From the moment you seat yourself in the realistically-styled pilot's seat, you know that you are in for some serious action. The audio system of this game has to be heard to be believed! Cranked up, the bass will literally go right through you!
The graphics are also extremely well done. This game is a good example of just how far vector graphics have come in the last five or so years. A great attention to detail is also apparent here!
The game play is cool, consisting of various missions which pit you against all manner of enemy aircraft. As the missions progress, so does the skill of your computerized adversaries. Take it from us, gang, they are definitely some of the toughest hombres to take to the skies! To help you along the way, you are given a full compliment of super-advanced weapons systems like a stock-issue automatic cannon and a battery of heat-seeking missiles!
To give your missions an added sense of urgency, there's a mandatory time limit set which you must meet to complete each mission. If you exceed this time limit, needless to say, your wings get clipped and your flying days are over!
With a great level of complexity, a high degree of challenge, truly intense audio, and some of the coolest use of polygon graphics around, Air Combat by Namco should prove to be a big hit in the arcades.
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Air Combat's generic graphics and initially tame missions won't earn top-gun honors for the PlayStation's first aircraft shooter. The later stages, however, reel you in with tense, strategic action.
Air Combat offers two flight paths: As a mercenary flying for cash, one player sets out on missions to obliterate targets like oil refineries and factories. Two players, on the other hand, duke it out in decent split-screen dogfights.
The generous selection of planes includes the F-16, F-117 stealth bomber, and A-10. All 16, however, are sparsely equipped with only missiles, bullets, and radar - standards like bombs and countermeasures were left on the runway.
This simplicity continues in the first few missions, which involve ho-hum air-to-air objectives that are spelled out on the maps. The pace picks up as the later missions demand a strategic, careful approach to daunting air and ground forces, as well as a probing eye for exploring uncharted territory to locate targets. The responsive controls won't fulfill flight-sim fanatics, but they work fine for the arcade-style action.
The bland graphics don't pull their weight. Despite some decent cityscapes, the plain backgrounds and explosions lack the usual PlayStation detail and polish. The sound effects compensate with realistic engine noises and lock-on tones.
Despite Air Combat's substantial flaws, patient arcade-shooter fans will gradually get caught up in the gripping gameplay. This disc's worth an exploratory test flight.
- When tracking ground targets, keep an eye out for tracers from ground-based antiaircraft defenses.
- Spin and climb to evade incoming missiles.
- When you get a lock on a distant target, fire two or three missiles to Increase your chances of connecting
Namco gets an "A" for effort, but still fails to deliver an enjoyable game. Air Combat is a jet-fighter simulator in which you can choose from the world's most elite fighter planes (and a few imaginary ones as well). When you select a plane (my choice was the ever-popular F-14), you must tackle a mission that might have you rescuing stranded comrades or blasting bogies from the sky.
Technically speaking, Air Combat is an excellent game. Many on-board options allow you a great deal of latitude and information concerning your plane. From radar to different views to plane statistics, Air Combat isn't lacking in the complex flight simulator department. Also, the textured backgrounds and enemies look beautiful. What is lacking is excitement--I want my dogfights fast and furious with lots of fire. Unfortunately, you won't see that in this game. Turning and tracking the enemy is painfully slow, and you have to worry about stalling if you fly too high, and crashing if you dip too low.
In two-player mode, you must track your opponent down and terminate him. Using a split screen, it's really hard to figure out what the hell's going on. The backgrounds are so bland, and your prey so elusive, that two-player mode becomes more tedious than anything else.
Air Combat looks pretty and has all of the elements required for a simulator, but that's all it is. When I want to see firemen in action I watch Backdraft, not the Learning Channel. When I want to see planes in a dogfight, I'll stick to Afterburner (or Blue Lightning, reviewed in this issue). I don't want realism, I prefer flashy excitement.