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Jetfighter IV: Fortress America

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Talon Soft
Developer: Mission Studios
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 16
Genre: Flight/ Simulation/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics for Jetfighter IV, while not outstanding, are good and adequately portray the elements of the game. Let’s face it, the HUDs (Heads Up Display) on most actual fighter jets don’t exactly employ mind-blowing graphics; this you will see if you ever watch “Carrier, Fortress at Sea” on the Discovery Channel. In fact, by displaying only simple lines and dots, the HUD is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, making it very easy to simulate with simple graphics. Likewise, the instrument panel is comprised of gauges and MFDs (Multi-Function Displays) that are about as robust as the HUD. So, while the graphics in Fortress America aren’t the best in the business, they don’t need to be to achieve a fairly believable depiction of the cockpit.

The same can be said for sky scenery. I mean, what exactly is an inaccurate cloud? Ground scenes are also moderately depicted, but the bottom line is that disbelief is definitely suspended enough to create and maintain a nice illusion.

Additionally, the sound is very good. Perhaps it is not the biggest challenge in gaming to create realistic jet sounds, but it is done well and compliments the graphics to maintain the desired illusion.


There’s a little overhead in learning to play Jetfighter IV: Fortress America, which is probably not uncommon among simulations. It is relatively complex to operate, but then again, so is a modern jet fighter. One nice element is the training campaign. I am 100% in favor of instructional exercises built into complex games. Ideally, I would like to see built-in instruction replace printed manuals. And although the manual is still very necessary in Jetfighter IV, the player does get to hop into a jet and solo a lot quicker by participating in the training campaign.

Another nice element is the emphasis on instruments. The instruments are crucial to success and seem accurate by my limited knowledge. Warning systems detect missile locks and other threats which allow the pilot to deploy countermeasures and evade the threat even without visual identification. Likewise, the targeting system and medium range air-to-air missiles allow enemy planes far out of visual range to be engaged and often destroyed, again without visual identification. These are accurate depictions of modern aerial combat according to numerous Discovery Channel documentaries that I’ve seen. Additionally, the navigation systems allow the pilot to easily follow flight plans as well as to line up for landings long before the runway or carrier is in visual range, an important feature when traveling at sometimes-supersonic speeds.

And while flying by instruments is the rightfully dominant method, engaging close in adversaries with guns allows for some fun and very challenging “seat of the pants” flying. More than 40 missions can be chosen and the user can also create custom missions, helping reduce redundancy.


While no single element of Jetfighter IV: Fortress America is extremely difficult, it is a fairly complex simulation and the combination of tasks required simultaneously of the pilot often creates very challenging scenarios. I would imagine that such is the case in actual aerial combat as well. At times, it can even be somewhat difficult to hold the aircraft steady which I assume is due to simulated turbulence. Taking altitude and airspeed readings and keeping an eye on the radar at the same time takes a little practice. Throw in a Mig or SAM site shooting missiles at you and you have your hands full. I personally crashed or was shot down several times just during the training campaign, and the real campaigns only increase in difficulty.

Fortunately, the campaigns allow the player to tackle the increased difficulty in relatively small steps. This allows for success along the way while always providing for new challenges. And rest assured, you’ll win some and lose some. Carrier landings, as in real life, are one of the most difficult exercises in naval aviation. However, a pilot who learns to use and trust the instruments will have a much easier time of it and will also have an easier time adjusting to nighttime carrier landings which force you to rely almost exclusively on instruments.

Game Mechanics:

Calibration of the joystick in Jetfighter IV left a little to be desired. In the calibration option, there was an adjustment for sensitivity which seemed only to increase or reduce the extreme limits of the joystick, leaving it just as sensitive near center. Also, even after calibration, the joystick center never seemed to produce flat, level flight in the game. I always had to apply a little pressure to the left no matter how many times I calibrated it.

Another problem I encountered was a trailing effect of the HUD during aerial combat. A couple of times when another aircraft was targeted, the readings on the HUD would trail (the old reading would not disappear when the new one appeared). This wreaked havoc on the scrolling airspeed and altitude readouts and left huge amounts of garbage on the screen which both blocked my view and rendered the instrument unreadable. Fortunately, this was not a consistent problem.

Other than the bothersome trailing effect aforementioned, this flight simulation is enjoyable to play and very challenging. It seems true to life based on my limited knowledge and I only hope that it is an accurate depiction of real combat aviation beyond the scope of my understanding. I noticed that the instrument panels look slightly different when different aircraft are selected (F/A-18, F-22, and F-14). Obviously, these are supposed to depict the actual instrument layout of those aircraft, and hopefully they do. The simulation seems true to life and also holds the player’s interest by stepping through increasingly difficult skills. After each skill is mastered, you’ll want to tackle the next one, and the enjoyment grows as you get better. Flight sim fans should give Jetfighter IV: Fortress America a try.

-The Outdoorsman, GameVortex Communications
AKA Greg Brignac

Minimum System Requirements:

333 MHz processor, 600MB drive space, 48MB RAM, 4MB DirectX compatible 3D accelerator

Preferred System Requirements:

400 MHz processor, 64MB RAM, 16MB DirectX compatible 3D accelerator


Test System:

650 MHz AMD Athlon, 64MB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce DDR video card(32MB), Windows 98 2E, Logitech Wingman Extreme Digital flight stick

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