The Micro User1st December 1989
Published in The Micro User 7.10
Out of the blue...
In Interdictor, the first flight simulator for the Archimedes, you are put at the controls of a new fly-by-wire fighter plane based at the edge of hostile territory. Your mission is to push the enemy away from a nearby river valley by taking over its airfields one by one and eventually blasting its headquarters.
In order to take an airfield successfully all its defences must first be destroyed. For example, you have to demolish any nearby bridges so supply trucks can't cross the river and then watch for ships moving up river with equipment to repair them. When an airfield has been taken you can save the game on to a formatted disc at the press of a key.
All the time, surface-to-air missiles and enemy fighter planes will be trying to shoot you out of the sky. The SAMs shouldn't fire at you providing you remain below 300 feet, but that's not as easy as it sounds.
Alternatively you can drop fine metal strips
You also carry flares - useful as decoys when a heat-seeking missile is locked on to you. While the missile follows the flare you have a few seconds to get into a position to shoot the opponent's plane down.
When first hit by enemy fire you will probably loose your electrics - you then have to rely on mechanical flight aids - or hydraulics, which is the end of your under carriage. A second hit is usually fatal.
At the beginning of the simulation your plane has a full tank offuel, 250 shells for the 30mm cannon, 36 air-to-ground rockets and 6 heat-seeking missiles. When you land at an airfield you are automatically refuelled and rearmed.
All the usual cockpit instruments are shown in the bottom third of the screen. These include, among other things, an attitude indicator, altimeter, speed and fuel meters and warning lights.
The instrument panel can be removed from the screen to leave a full forward view at any time - useful for ground attacks - and you can also select forward and side views.
Speed and height are also shown on the head up display - HUD as it is widely known. This is projected on to the canopy so that you can see vital information with out looking down to the instrument panel. It also shows pitch lines, which remain parallel with the ground at all times and therefore help you see how much bank you are in when you can't see the horizon.
The game is completely Risc OS compatible but takes over the whole screen.
The disc can be backed up but before being cleared for take-off you must go through a security check which involves looking up two randomly chosen grid references from a colour chart at the back of the manual and telling the micro what colours are found at these positions.
The quality of graphics tends to vary throughout the game. The best in my opinion are used for enemy aircraft, which have been drawn very well and move around smoothly. When one is shot down there is a very realistic explosion and debris falls to theground. In contrast the airfields all look exactly the same.
If the bangs and firing effects irritate rather than add excitement you can turn them off at the press of a key - alternatively you can switch off just the engine's drone while keeping all other effects.
Used in conjunction with the keyboard, the mouse gives perfect control and the plane reacts exactly as you would expect.
The sensitivity can be altered and for beginners there is an auto-stabiliser option which makes flying easy and landing not entirely impossible.
The game was developed by a group of ex-British Aerospace employees and so, the packaging claims, is as near to the real thing as you can get. This program should appeal to shoot-'em-up, strategy and simulator addicts, although the price seems a little high.
Although I really enjoyed Interdictor I prefer the slower life, so hopefully it won't be too long before we see an airliner simulation on the Archimedes too.
This simulation is a real shot in the arm - no pun intended - for a micro that's been crying out for decent games. I've never been too keen on flight simulators in the past because the lack of good graphics hasn't compensated for the difficulties of actually flying the thing.
But Interdictor has changed that completely: The feeling of motion is enough to make you airsick - and I'm sure I would have blacked out on some turns. The realism is stunning. I've only managed to make itto the second airfield so far and those trucks keep coming along and re-supplying it. But I'm going to keep trying.