48K disk £12.95
48K cassette £9.95
Already a huge hit on the Spectrum,
FIGHTER PILOT from Digital Integration has now been converted to
the Atari. Normally, this wouldn't be anything to get excited about
- conversions from other computers are usually pretty naff - but
the programmers have obviously taken the trouble to delve into the
inner workings of the Atari to produce a truly excellent software
First a quick word about the 'Lens-lock'
- a software protection device which comes with the program. Lens-lock
is a plastic lens which is folded and placed against the TV screen
in order to read a security code which you must then authenticate
to play the game. As a security device it is quite novel. I found
it easy enough to use but if your TV picture is fuzzy or your eyesight
less than perfect, you may well experience a few problems. It definitely
serves it purpose though as the program is totally useless to anyone
FIGHTER PILOT is a flight-simulator
based around the F-15 EAGLE, USAF air-superiority jet-fighter. A
colourful 'Options' screen kicks things off and gives you the choice
of various game options ranging from Landing Practice or Flight
Training right through to Air to Air Combat. Other options such
as Crosswinds & Turbulence and Blind Landings help to make the simulation
as realistic as possible and you can even change the ratings of
the enemy pilots - trainee, squadron leader, instructor or ace -
in order to test your combat skills to the limit.
Once into the simulation itself,
the top three-quarters of the screen is taken up by the view from
the cockpit window with the remaining quarter representing the instrument
panel. The panel is clear, well laid out and contains all the instruments
you'll need to pilot the plane successfully - airspeed, fuel, thrust,
roll, pitch, altitude, flight computer, ammo, etc.
You fly the plane using the joystick
but keyboard inputs are required for the more important aspects
of flight control. You can even call up a detailed map of the ground
terrain by pressing the appropriate key!
In combat mode it's your job to
defend four airfields from enemy attack. A target cursor is super-imposed
on the screen to help you line up the enemy aircraft, but shooting
them down is no pushover. In this simulation the emphasis is on
'Speed' and your jet fighter responds quickly and instantly - sometimes
too instantly - to the controls and a delicate touch is needed at
all times it you wish to avoid rolling upside down! It takes some
getting used to.
The graphics are superb and the
whole simulation has a tremendous feeling of both speed and realism.
It beats the heck out of all those boring 747 simulators which give
the impression that you're at the controls of a flying tortoise
and are good only as a cure for chronic insomnia. Once you've flown
an F-15 you won't look at a 747 again!!
Inevitably, this program will undergo
comparison with Microprose's STRIKE EAGLE as they are similar in
concept. STRIKE EAGLE is the slightly more complex of the two but
it concentrates more on the combat side of things and is, therefore,
more arcade-orientated than FIGHTER PILOT, which is a true flight-simulator
in every sense of the word.
Looking at FIGHTER PILOT purely
as a flight-simulator alone, there is no question that it is the
very best available for the Atari so far (and a good deal cheaper
than most of the others). Digital Integration are to be congratulated
for getting it right first time. Let's hope there's more to follow……..