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F/A-18 Hornet Precision Strike Fighter

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Xicat Interactive
Developer: Graphsim
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 / LAN
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

While not the most detailed graphics I've ever seen in a game, F/A-18 Hornet Precision Strike Fighter focuses on where it counts. The Hornet itself looks rather nice, from the inside of the cockpit to the bombs hanging on its wings. Your control panel inside the airplane is very detailed and looks probably exactly the same as the inside of a real F/A-18 Hornet. Take a walk outside the plane though, and objects start to look a bit underdeveloped. All other planes besides the Hornets look a little too sharp edged with hardly any color differentiation, but you must remember that these are military planes, and the military isn't known for its imaginative color schemes. Buildings up close look more or less like cardboard cutouts, although you'll usually only see them like this when you're taking off. The vehicles are equally uninspired, and resemble fixed up shoe boxes with wheels. The same goes with these though; you wont be seeing a tank up close unless they're parked next to you when you take off. There are a variety of interesting views to chose from including tower view, target view, and weapon view to name a few. Watching your 2000 lb. bomb fall through the roof of a building never seems to get old. Also, while inside the cockpit, you can use the hat trigger to look around you in 45 degree increments. Very helpful when you're searching for bogies.

I've never actually been in a fighter jet before, but I would bet that the sounds you hear in the cockpit are pretty close to whats in this game. While in the air, the roar of the engine permeates the cockpit, and is punctured by the frequent radio chatter and occasional explosion. Listening to the chatter on the radio makes you feel like you're part of the team. The beeps and chirps of the HUD (that's 'heads up display' for you civilians) sound like they belong, as well as the hum of your air-to-air missiles locking on to your enemy. All in all, the sound is good and clear, and before long you will be able to identify what you're doing just by the noises that you hear.

As for the music, I wish I could talk about it, but I can't. There isn't any. Ever. This is a very realistic flight sim, and real pilots don't fly around listening to cassette players while they're defending the U.S. of A.


Gameplay:

First of all, if you don't have a joystick to play this game, you are going to want to invest in one. All purpose Navy jets were not designed to be flown with a two button mouse, and this game follows similar suit. Even a cheap joystick will do fine, but the presence of a hat trigger and a few easily reached buttons is a must. Second, learning all the controls and learning them well is going to take a while. Training and patience go hand in hand here. There are a lot of button commands that must be pulled off fast to ensure your survival.

The training section of PSF is laid out nicely and does a goof job of teaching you the ropes while you're outside of the plane. It covers material starting with the basics of flight to dive bombing, and is narrated by the same person who wrote the instruction manual. The author/narrator also happens to be a Major in the Marine Corps Reserve. This guy has logged over 850 hours of flight time in a Hornet, so he knows what he is talking about. But while the training lessons are good, the training missions could have used someone going through the procedures with you. Instead, you are put into the cockpit with no guidance except what you learned during the lessons. It becomes a bit of a nuisance going back and forth between the lessons and the simulator.

If you are lucky enough to make it through the training, you can try some of the missions. This is where you get a chance to show off your skills, and belive me, you are going to have to show some skills. These missions require knowledge of the plane, weapons, and enemies. One missile or anti-air site can end your day real quick. Missions start out with a brief description of what you have to do, and then you have to decide what weapons you're going to be carrying. Weapons range from sidewinders to tactical nuclear warheads, and deciding which ones to use will depend on the mission parameters. If you're going to be flying a long distance, extra fuel is a must. Will there be enemy air resistance? Air-to-air missiles might be a good idea in that instance.

There is also a mission editor within the game that allows the creation and customization of any mission offered. The actual editor is fairly simple to use, and shouldn't require too much time to master. This is a very important part of PSF as it gives the game a huge replay value. The possibilities seem almost endless, and the only restraints are that you have to use a single map. The map is quite big though, and offers a lot of room to play around in.


Difficulty:

This game is hard. Yes, there are difficulty options where you can mess with the overall realism, but it is still hard. Don't think that just because you have a fast computer and a good joystick that you are going to dominate this game right away. PSF is modeled after a marvel of technology, and mastering it will easily take hours of dedicated learning time on your part. But it's not difficult to point of frustration. You go through the training lessons wanting to learn the best way to land on an aircraft carrier in high winds, or how to avoid a SAM.

Game Mechanics:

Realism is the order of the day here. This is a must for die hard flight sim fans. Although I don't know for certain, I'm probably not exaggerating when I say that flight simulators at military bases probably aren't much different from this game. But don't think it to be tedious. It has a good instruction manual to get you started and plenty of missions to keep you going. If that's not enough for you, try your hand against some human oponents via it's multiplayer capability. With a little patience and a decent joystick, this game has plenty of fun to offer.

-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:



Win 98/ME/2000, PII 233 Mhz, 8mb OpenGL compatible video card, 85mb hard drive space, 8x CDRom, 64mb RAM
 

Test System:



Win 98, AMD 1.4 GHz, 32mb GeForce 2 mx video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CDRom, 256 RAM

Windows Everquest Trilogy Windows FIFA 2002

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated