There I was, at 10,000 feet,
strapped into my armchair cockpit, engaging a fine graphically rendered
German fighter plane over some cookie-cutter Pacific island, the palm trees
swaying in the breeze far below me and a line of bullets marking my path in
front of me…..
Sound a little strange, perhaps
even a bit unreal? Well, that was exactly my impression as I fired up the old
(soon to be upgraded) 486 and tossed this disc into the drive. At first glance,
Fighter Duel‘s graphics and play were impressing, as there are some very
fine qualities to this game, but then I began to notice some of the game’s more
outspoken flaws, and this reviewer admits that his enthusiasm was dampened considerably.
Again, there was some good, some bad…and the bad was definitely ugly.
First, the good. As far as the game screen itself, this is a beautiful
program. The graphics are very smooth, both on land, and on the water.
One exceptional detail that I noticed was that a definitive boundary
existed between the ocean and the sky, a major element that too many flight
simulators seem to ignore. The cockpit of the player’s fighter is very
nice, with all gauges and dials clear and easy to read. The other planes
are also pretty, with every minor detail, including the structures and
nationalities of the aircraft, extremely visible, even from a
distance. Speaking of nations, you may choose between the American
F4F and the P-51, the British Spitfire, the Japanese Zero, or the German
ME-109. Each fighter’s engine sound is also real. So real, in fact, that I
got an adrenalin rush from simply opening up the throttle to 100% power.
Explosions are cool, and they look how they should, with smoke and large chunks of
But here is where Fighter Duel
comes to a screeching halt. I have just told you the entire game. You sit, you
fly, you shoot, and you exit. That’s it. No campaign, no missions, and no scenery
besides an endless stream of irregularly shaped islands and an occasional American
carrier. Of course, your only weapon is the machine gun. There are no options
there, either. The player’s only choices consist of how many enemies will appear
on the screen and also how he or she wants to be positioned above or below those
enemies. One saving grace is that the game does have a multiplayer function
which allows a second person to get involved over a modem or network and break
up the monotony just a little.
Unfortunately, even that is not enough to save this game entirely.
Despite the fact that this program does display some excellent gameplay, as
a well as a fine interface, a lot of “eye candy” simply does not take the
place of complex missions, an excellent storyline, or some sort of
historical perspective. For being a World War II game, I found little that
made any sort of distinction between Messerschmitt or Mitsubishi, and the
ever-present Pacific scene did not help. For, in the end, if you are going
to go and create a historic game, especially one dealing with World War II
air combat, you just need more depth. Fighter Duel is a great
dogfight simulation, but don’t expect much more.