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F-14 Tomcat

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Virtucraft
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

F-14 Tomcat really made me wish that the GBA screen was backlit, or at least had an easier to see screen. The game uses rotation 2D sprites in order to build a nice 3D world (just think Iridion 3D, only darker). As you approach the different bogies on both day and night time missions, they grow larger and larger in your view screen, which made for one impressed reviewer. The fun doesn't stop there, with flashing anti-aircraft fire and flickering computer screens that add a lot of style. As I said before, my only problem was that everything is so dark, that unless you have a good light source, it is hard to appreciate everything.

The sound falls somewhere in the middle of the track. The machine guns and 'typical' war sounds range from average to impressive while the soundtrack consisting of what can best be described as elevator hard rock does detract from an overall well done presentation.


Gameplay:

You are in the cockpit of one of the Navy's most famous (and my personal favorite) fighter jets - the F-14 Tomcat. While it would probably be fun to just fly around and blow things up at random, Majesco has put together a plot that is pretty believable (and for once has NOTHING to do with the Persian Gulf). It is your duty to enforce the 'no-fly' zone between Taiwan and China. You missions (totaling out at about 16) range from your typical 'shoot down the bad guy', to fleet defense, to bombing strikes. Having such a variety does try to help break up the monotony, but I never felt like the missions did enough to keep me wanting to play. Despite different objectives, every mission still follows the tried and true point A to point B formula.

After a helpful training mission you are ready to begin patrolling - just don't expect it to be just a day at the office. All types of enemy aircraft will make it their duty to make your day as bad as possible. F-14 does a great job at always keeping you on your toes during missions. It's a total rush to dogfight an enemy MiG, while at the same time keeping your eyes open for the mission critical craft. Oh, did I mention the guns on the ground covering the sky with AA fire? I am still impressed that this was all in a handheld game.

For those who want a little more challenge to their dogfighting, just link up to three of your friends and blow each other out of the sky.


Difficulty:

While there are more than a few challenging areas in F-14 Tomcat, it is a bit short, and even on the Ace difficulty level, I found it to be easy. This is mostly because the biggest difference between Ace and Novice is what you are required to do, and not necessarily the skill level of the enemies. In Novice, you are give auto-landing and refueling, while Ace requires you to perform these tasks yourself, which are still not very hard.

Game Mechanics:

Control is set up very well and takes full advantage of the GBA's buttons. The D-pad controls all of your plane's movements, A controls your fire, and B controls your throttle. By pressing the B and one of the shoulder buttons, you can cycle through your weapons. This had to be the trickiest part of the entire set up. For the most part, it is easy to use, but when in the thick of things, it can get a little cumbersome to switch from machine guns to missiles on the fly. However, after a few missions it becomes easier to manage. Your plane handles and responds very nicely, but it tends to lean more towards arcade style and not a simulation.

Overall, F-14 Tomcat is a good flight game, especially when compared to a few of the others that I have played. The only thing really holding it back is that it still feels like every other flight game and does not bring anything new to the table, making it feel rather generic. Anyone who likes flight combat games, or just planes would do well in picking this one up.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated