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|6.8/10 - 5 votes
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|Flying Games, Airplane Games
Right, hands up if you remember Je fighter II. Yes? No? Well I do, for a couple of reasons. The first lis that I'd just bought a brand new 486DX/33 (which unfortunately I've still got), and Jetfighterll ran super smoothly and super quickly even at the highest detail setting. The second reason I remember it so clearly is that it came in a ridiculous box. It was your normal rectangular shape for the most part, but it had a stupid sticky-out triangley bit on the top which made it impossible to stack. It eventually became the guilty party (as it descended further down the pile) in several 'Oh no, my ludicrously tall tower of computer games boxes has toppled over again' scenarios.
Indeed, the Jetfighterll packaging was responsible for (1) a disgustingly full ashtray plunging onto my sofa, (2) a very large teacup emptying its half-finished contents into the 'explodey bit' of my tv, and (3) a domino-effect disaster in which every single thing in my flat fell over (including the washing machine).
So I'm sure you'll understand that the first question I wanted answered was whether or not the Jetfighter III box would have... er, protrusions.
"What exactly do you mean?" asked the US Gold bloke. "Sticky-out triangley bits," I replied. "Or sticky-out any shape bits for that matter. It's very important."
He said he didn't know as the packaging hadn't been designed yet, but did I want to know anything about the actual game? I said that I did. As, no doubt, do you. Read on...
By Jimminy - it's so uncannily realistic!
Jetfighter Ill's massively gigantic playing area is, apparently, uncannily realistic. As with say, Flight Sim 5, the whole game is mapped out from, er, maps. But we're not just talking about the true to life shape of the land below as viewed from 20,000 feet, we're also talking about the true to life shape of the hill you're about to crash into when flying upside down at an altitude of 12 feet. Every single square metre of the game's terrain, the US Gold bloke assures me, is accurate in an uppy and downy direction thanks to data gleaned from zillions upon zillions of Ordnance Survey charts. Aha! I spot a chance to be 'clever'.
"Did you know that Ordnance Surveys were originally commissioned by the military?" I mention as casually as I can! "It was so they'd know the best places to put their cannons."
"Yes, I know," said the US Gold bloke.. "Everyone knows. It's why they're called1 'Ordnance' Surveys. So how come you I thought that was going to be some sort of a revelation? Didn't you do geography at school?"
I explain that geography lessons at my school consisted of 30 boys flicking rolled-up saliva-soaked pieces of paper into the teacher's beard. "We learned nothing from Mr Pottage in five whole years," I tell him, "but we all became excellent shots!" He's not impressed.
But as well as geographical accuracy regarding the landscapes, Jetfighter III stays on the realism button for the structures as well, I'm told.
"If it's there in real life," says the US Gold bloke, "it's there in the game." "What, in exactly the same spot?" I wonder aloud. "In exactly the same spot!" he exclaims. "So, erm, every single building and every single object is in the same place in Jetfighter III as it is in the real world?" "Yes. How many times do you need, to hear it? Like I said, if it's there in real life, it's there in the game."
"I left an empty can of Tango on the very top of a small mountain in Crete once," I say. "Will that be there?"
"Tell me, does your discarded can of Tango appear on any maps you've seen recently?" he counters, curtly.
I tell him that it probably doesn't. He then informs me that it therefore, probably, won't be appearing in the game. (I consider this to be a minus point, but realise I'm maybe just being picky. I pursue the subject no further.)
Warp Factor Zero
Another brilliant thing about Jetfighter III (I'm told), is that unlike most flight sims there are loads of little details: people, cars, goat herds, tractors, sheds and what have you - all those things that are so important when you're just faffing around. A pertinent thought suddenly occurs...
"So you can just faff around, I presume? Without getting shot at?" "Of course," says the US Gold bloke, glowing with pride. "There's a 'Free Flight' option which is great because as well as the phenomenal number of objects to look at - and the fact that everything is fully light-sourced -there's also an extremely good texturemapping system. Rolling pastures, snowcapped peaks, sandy shores, sheer 500 foot cliff faces, and anything else you'd care to mention, all look superb. It's just like being there. And guess what else."
"What?" "There's no warping. Get as close as wu like! Take my word for it. And the prame rate's really great. Oh, and in bad weather the aircraft carrier that serves tyour home base pitches and rolls like jpu wouldn't believe - it's enough to make you seasick, really." "Well done!" "I know. But you didn't ask if it made I landing trickier." "Does it make landing trickier?" "Yup! Sure does!"
I'm sorry, I know I should have more self control, but when he said those two words I just couldn't help it... I screamed. The US Gold bloke seemed genuinely bemused. I told him I'd be alright if he didn't repeat what he'd just said. He paused, scratched his head for a few seconds, then added, in all innocence, that the only thing he'd said was how Jetfighter III, when you weren't in the air, was an interactive movie. I cried out in pain for a second time. "What's on earth's wrong?" Again he seemed genuinely bemused. I mouthed the offending words, slowly. Twice. He caught on. "Interactive movie???"
"But it's really good. Three decks of the carrier are fully explorable. You can go all over the place. You meet people, look at things, read things, get involved in the story. You know? It's really good. Honest. The acting's superb, and the script's great too. It's non-linear. If you go out on a mission and stuff it up, it can change the plotline. There are multiple endings and everything. It's along the lines of, er... let's see... did you like Wing Commander IV?"
"Yaaaaaaargh!" "Oh. So, um, name me an interactive movie..." "Yaaaaaargh!" "...That you actually liked." "Top Gun was along the right lines." "Well, hey, in that case you might find that Jetfighter III is even better. Be open. Be positive. Are you always like this? For god's sake will you stop being such a bloody pain in the arse!" I reluctantly concurred. After all, it sounds good in theory, doesn't it? And the screenshots bear it some witness. But for me - at the end of the day - it all comes down to whether or not the packaging has a triangley bit sticking out of the top. Let's wait and see, eh?
Download JetFighter III
It's early morning aboard the INS Peacekeeper and you're waiting for your turn to launch. You are part of an elite United Nations strike force, leading a team of the world's top pilots with the motto: "Global Peace through Deadly Force." Your wingman is already in the air, waiting for you to join him. Your mission this morning is to destroy a power plant deep in Argentina, but getting there will be the tough part. In your way are numerous SAM missile sites and half the Argentine air force. It's up to you; will this be a successful mission or will you go down in flames?
The basic plot in Jetfighter III is engaging enough, although fighting for the U.N. lacks some of the appeal I find in other games where you fly for the USA or Soviet bloc. But the new villains are a challenge and in many cases the planes they use are Russian-made. There are also plenty of them -- you will be hard-pressed keeping track of everyone during the larger engagements. All your skills will be tested as you fly a F-22N Lightning IIs or F/A-18 Hornet on missions to preserve world peace against threats like Argentina's invasion of Chile or Cuba's sinister alliance with the Colombian drug cartels.
Many gamers shy away from flight combat simulators -- they often have huge manuals, complex control setups, a steep learning curve, and just aren't much fun to anyone but a dedicated fan. JetFighter III (billed by Mission Studios as "the easiest-to-use flight simulator") is much different. If you're looking for a hyper-realistic flight model or military accuracy, it's probably not the game for you. But if you want a fun combat game that's reasonably accurate but still easy to play, then grab a joystick and settle into the cockpit. Don't worry if you've never flown before: JetFighter III includes an exhaustive set of training missions that will teach you how to handle your aircraft.
Once you have completed training, the gameplay follows two campaigns, one based around Argentina's invasion of Chile and the other based around Cuban-backed drug lords. Unlike other flight combat simulators, there is no custom mission builder -- but Mission Studios has released several add-on missions to their web site and an expansion pack is due out soon.
The missions are a mix of stand-off air-to-air engagements, close-in dogfights, and ground strikes with dumb munitions and air-to-ground missiles. One nice feature is the dynamic campaigns -- even if you fail a mission, you can continue playing and the campaign adjusts, changing the final outcome (after all, no one wins every time).
In addition to time in your plane you also spend time aboard INS Peacekeeper. You can walk around the ship (much like you would in an adventure-style game) or use a menu to get you from place to place quickly. You can visit the briefing rooms, control and hangar decks, and even your own cabin where you can admire your medals and awards or check for email from your family. You can also view an extensive database that includes specs on all the military hardware you will encounter, as well as a dossier on each pilot you can select to be your wingman. Each pilot has different skills and personalities -- selecting the right one for the mission at hand is important. You can even design a personalized insignia for your plane -- a very nice touch.
JetFighter III is a DOS-based game and it doesn't play well in a Windows 95 DOS box -- if you normally run under Windows you'll want to reboot to DOS mode before playing.
JetFighter III is easily one of the best-looking fighter sims available. The terrain in the game was generated using data from U.S. Department of Defense, FAA, Defense Mapping Agency, USGS and NOAA maps, and it looks great. The mountains tower around you, the rivers and other scenery are accurate and lifelike, and the atmospheric effects (which include transparent clouds, smoke, fire and dynamic lighting) add to the realism of this flight experience.
While the graphics are impressive, most users will probably not be able to enjoy the full effect -- running at the game's highest resolution (640x480) with all the detail options turned on takes a top-of-the-line Pentium or Pentium Pro system. Gamers with less powerful systems will need to toggle off some graphic features, such as clouds and mountain shading, or select a lower resolution. If you run at 320x200 and switch off some of the atmospheric effects, JetFighter is very playable on a 486 system.
Sound in the game is only fair. The sound effects are sparse, no engine noise to speak of and fairly minimal effects for the weapons and explosions. Particular music tracks are annoying; I turned them off after playing a couple of times.
The JetFighter III manual includes lots of information, including detailed specs on the planes, a background story for the campaigns, extra tutorial information and more. It's worth the time to look through it. However, the game is easy enough to learn, so if you hate reading manuals you won't need to open it at all.
Minimum Requirements: 486/DX4 100MHz or better, 8 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, MS-DOS 5.0, 256-color VESA-compatible SVGA (640 x 480) video card, 30 MB free hard drive space
Recommended : Pentium 133MHz CPU or better, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive
JetFighter III is a great game, although it's not a realistic combat simulation. It has fantastic graphics, an easy-to-learn interface and absorbing gameplay. It does require a powerful system, especially for the higher resolution modes. Overall I enjoyed playing, and I give JetFighter III a score of 83 out of 100.