Amiga Power


Air Land Sea

Author: Gary Penn
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Machine: Amiga 500

 
Published in Amiga Power #10

Air Land Sea

This one brings together in a single compilation three environmentally varied simulations which were previously available individually in full-price (and then budget, in F/A-18 Interceptor's case) form. Unlike most compilations released these days, however, there's pleasingly little sign of compromise in ALS's packaging. Here, all three original full-blown manuals sit alongside the appropriate copy-protection devices in a fittingly chunky box. A compilation's only ever as good as its parts though, so let's take a look at them...

In The Air

Here we have F/A-18 Interceptor, which simulates the Navy F/A-18 Hornet and the Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon. This looked smarter than Einstein about four years ago, even though the bogies on screen are rarely larger than the ones you'd pick from your nose, and the scenery's as pleasantly breathtaking as a punch in the stomach.

The missions are pretty much at the shallow end of the pool, commencing with a take off and landing on an aircraft carrier before being allowed to dogfight handfuls of enemy fighters and escort VIP-bearing aircraft.

Despite the limitations this is still a great game, and the reason is simple - the fighters in F/A-18 Interceptor are fun to fly (pump up the volume and choose one of the many external viewpoints, and any shortcomings are soon forgotten), and that's good enough for me.

F/A-18 Interceptor was created by Bob Dinnerman, who went on to produce a version called Jetfighter for the IBM PC and compatibles before enhancing it no end and arriving at Jetfighter II, which is coming to the Amiga early next year through US Gold. In the meantime, you can't go wrong here.

On The Land...

This is Indianapolis 500 - the simulation. And what a hoot it is. I love it. It feels great. I tell you what, here's a playing tip and a half - pump up the volume to the max and Indianapolis 500 is just the business. It sounds so realistic you wouldn't believe it. The racing noises are so impressive, with proper fading and the like as the other cars race by (or, preferably, you race by the other cars).

The lone Indianapolis 500 course has absolutely no right-hand bends (unless of course you turn around and race the other way, stopping around the starting line and wait, patiently, until the other cars come round, then ram the cocky moustachioed beggers, building roadblocks from the damaged cars and causing some major pile-ups until only your car remains...) but that doesn't stop this being one of the great racing games. The replays (and the thumping-good Rob Hubbard soundtrack) are great too. Indianapolis 500 isn't a patch on Formula One Grand Prix, but by crikey it's fun.

(And for the record, the authors - Papyrus - are currently working on another sporty simulation for EA. Hurrah!)

And Under The Sea...

Last it's the turn of 688 Attack Sub. Mmm, yes. On the surface, commanding a submarine seems like a pretty dull job to me. And, unfortunately, 688 Attack Sub is nothing like the other two simulations in this pack. No, this one's presented pretty much as a 'traditional' buttons and knobs simulator, with its functions selected from a uninspired central view of a submarine's deck.

Atmosphere, unlike the volume of disk accessing, is sadly lacking. There are no novel visual or sonic effects to impress (the sonar 'ping' isn't too bad, but that's about it on the sound front) - just flat, unimaginative screens bearing a few dials and simple instrumentation. I'd preferred to have seen some exciting external views, with murky atmospheric waters and the like instead of this tedious technical stuff. Some cinematic intercuts of enemy activity and the like would have been skill, too.

As it stands, then, 688 Attack Sub represents a bit of a non-malignant growth inside an otherwise healthy compilation package.

The Bottom Line

There are a couple of top-notch simulations on offer here but the price is still far too high. You could probably pick up a copy of Indianapolis 500 on the cheap - and it must be due for individual budgetisation soon - and you can certainly get F/A-18 for under a tenner, so...

Gary Penn

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