And Now For Something Completely Unrealistic!
Flight Simulators have taken many different forms since the time of their 1979 inception. That was the year in which computer game pioneer Bruce Artwick designed the first "Flight Simulator," which he promptly sold to Apple Computers for use on their first home computer. There were also some other minor events, such as the Revolution in Iran and the subsequent hostage crisis, as well as this reviewer's first year of Pre-School. That version of the product, whose simple lines and pixels would soon appear on IBM screens as the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2.0
, would be the first of many.
Today, we have all seen
the true flight simulators with their painstakingly recreated cockpits that
enclose screens of brilliantly bit-mapped terrain and structures. These programs
normally have instruction manuals the size of textbooks and pride themselves
on their ability to bring the danger and adrenalin rush of real air combat to
the personal computer for the armchair pilot.
However, we have also seen the arcade flight simulators, like the old Nintendo game 1943
and the Desert Strike/Jungle Strike
genre, in which the player flies in a straight line shooting hordes of enemy planes, bunkers, and ships. Power-ups that appear after destroying the enemy are readily available as icons which float in the air until the player flies into them and picks them up. These icons restore ammunition, add new armor and health points, or give the player added "secret weapons" and new destructive firepower. All of this is directed towards the final downfall of one big boss character, after whose demise the world is saved and the player goes home as the single greatest American hero of all time.
Now, imagine if these two types of flight simulators could be combined into one game. That is the best possible description that this reviewer can give the potential owner of Agile Warrior F-111X
This game is taken from a traditional simulation perspective: looking out of the plane's windshield towards the gameplay field. With its small control panel and few buttons, the cockpit is not the most graphically detailed of its kind, but only the most hard-core realists will take offense. What is shown is mainly what weapon is currently available, how much damage the craft has sustained to its outer armor, and how much fuel the player has consumed.
Let's talk about gameplay.
The mission, if you and your trusty joystick choose to accept it, is to fly
around a mapped area at high speeds in search of ground targets such as bunkers,
tanks, artillery emplacements, and actual troops with hand-held surface-to-air
missiles. The primary weapon is a trusty vulcan cannon which never seems to
run out of ammunition, as well as a plethora of assorted missiles, from Sidewinders
to AMRAAMs to Mavericks, and finally to some sort of nuclear device (YeeeeHa!).
Your plane is capable of taking many gunshots and missile blasts, each one only
subtracting slightly from the overall armor level. Once enemy planes are destroyed,
large power-up icons appear in the sky which will aid the player in his or her
mission if they are picked up.
There are (as mentioned before) many targets of opportunity on the ground. And, as it is nearly impossible to crash the plane, one can soar over the ground at the lowest possible altitude, turning everything in his or her path into a fiery trail of destruction. Bunkers detonate into smoking bubbles of ruin, towers explode and crash to the ground, and people combust into flaming clouds of blood and entrails. Generally, you become nothing short of a one man apocalypse.
All in all, Agile Warrior is a fun game if the player does not mind the extraordinary lack of realism and is simply out to have a good time at his computer screen. It is also fun if one has the hardware necessary to support it. While this reviewer was able to make the game run in an 800X600 resolution with high detail, the movement of the program was exceedingly choppy. Only in the 320X200 mode was the game reasonably smooth, and by doing that a great amount of graphical beauty was sacrificed. Like the box recommends, a Pentium 120 or higher is certainly an asset, as well as one of those new 3D Accelerator graphics cards. Otherwise, while the game may still look very pretty, it will not play all that well, or be nearly as enjoyable. Another complaint I had is the game's necessity of running in Windows 95. As avid gamers may have noticed, the operating system sucks up an exorbitant amount of RAM (16 Megs, as compared to a standard 8 Megs while running in DOS).
On the whole, however, this is a fine product, and is only hampered by its requirements. The in-flight graphics are fine, the cinematic mission briefings are entertaining, and even the inflight music (a raucous hard-rock rhythm) serves as a proper backdrop to such an exciting game.