Advanced Tactical Fighters

Review by Doug Call
Price: $60
Genre: air combat flight simulator
Release: March 29, 1996
Developer: Electronic Arts (San Mateo;Jane’s Combat Simulations)
Producer: Paul Grace
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Phone: 415-571-7171
Requirements: 486 DX, 66 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 2X CD ROM drive, SVGA local bus or PCI, VESA 1.2 video, 36 MB of hard disk space, DOS 5.0 (This may be minimum system but it sure is not recommended! - Ed.) rafale-5sm.gif - 13.3 K

Sequel: Virtually unchanged game engine from U.S. Navy Fighters and Marine Fighters. If you liked these games, and many people did, you should like this sequel that lets you fly more planes and more missions.

Planes: Fly over 30. Fight over 90.

Scenerios: two (three if you count the training program) Egypt of 1998 or the Far East of 2002

Missions: 80

Multiplayer: Up to eight players over null and phone modem, internet, or intranet network

Other missions: Pro Mission Creator in multiplayer mode and the Quick Mission builder provide ulimited computer crafted missions.

You stroll out of operations toward the flight line and pause for a moment to take in the incredible sight of all of that beautiful aviation machinery sitting there on the ramp waiting for you to fly. It's the good stuff. You've drooled over it since you first saw it in action. You've been itching to strap each and every one of these babies on since reading about the capabilities of the next generation of combat aircraft. Today you'll get your chance. You've got ATF!

Several months ago, friend and Gamer Extrordinare Al Giovetti (should I edit this out? Nah! -Ed.) handed me a copy of Electronic Arts' Advanced Tactical Fighters with the request that I provide him with my impressions of the game. At the time my flight sim experience was limited to a few games that I had played with my kids, specifically XWing and Tie Fighter and some early versions of flight sim games which I had played on an older PC . I enjoyed those games (and still do) but they were different enough from my own experience as a fighter pilot that I couldn't get totally involved in the action.

As I opened the ATF box I wondered how this game could possibly interest me any more than the others. I read the reviews, looked through the manual and talked my 12 year old son into installing it for me on his machine. (He required little prodding and had it installed before I finished Chapter 1!) By the end of our session I realized two things:
· Reading the manual is not the fastest way to learn a new game even if it's the best way to learn a new fighter.
· Even though I'm slow compared to my son, who has grown up on video games, this game is realistic enough to give me an edge over him! That's exciting news! x31-7sm.gif - 8.8 K

At 0300 that following morning, wrapped up in my umteenth furball, hair standing up on the back of my neck and bad guys blowing up all around me I realized that I hadn't had this much fun since I flew fighters years ago! Today, several hundred hours of ATF PC combat later and a few thousand dollars poorer ( I purchased my own computer fully capable of handling the latest software.) I've got my answer. ATF is realistic enough to learn and practice the basics of modern air combat and flexible enough to just fly for fun.

· You can fly all kinds of airplanes. The seven exotics are reason enough for me to purchase the game, but as an added bonus you can also fly some Navy fighters (AV-8B, Sea Harrier, F/A-18, F-14), the AC-130, the SU-33 and Yak 141. A cheat is provided which allows flying any aircraft during campaigns. (If you fly a different aircraft you are ineligible for medals and promotions, a small price to pay for your favorite mount.)
· You can fight against all kinds of airplanes including types normally considered friendly, 90 different types to be exact.
· You can easily access Jane's Information Group Ltd. data on all aircraft, weapons, and other vehicles used in the campaigns. The exotics feature several different photos and inflight videos of each. In short, the game provides a wealth of information on all the hardware you will fly, attack, or manage during the campaigns.
· The manual is well written and easy to use as a reference for the game, basic aerodynamics, combat tactics, and mission planning and execution. The introduction includes a table of contents by chapter and a section entitled How to Use which summarizes the information presented in each chapter; a good quick reference. In the first chapter those who just can't wait to start fighting can quickly get a grip on the basics and get airborne in minimum time.
· The game supports two player null modem or up to eight player network play.
· You have a variety of ways to fly which include:
Free Flight...nontactical practice mission
Single Mission...predesigned single mission
Quick single mission generator
Pro Mission...complex single mission generator
Campaigns... two 40 mission campaigns, Egypt 1998 and Russia 2002
· You have a variety of:
Engagement setup options (such as tacticaladvantage/range/altitude)
Skill levels
· All of this variety leads to flexibility of play. You just don't get tired of this game!

Tom Chick:
Next Generation, volume 2, number 19, July, 1996, pg. 83. 4/5 (80%).
Kevin J. McCann, Computer Player, volume 2, number 12, May, 1996, 7/10 (70%).
Denny Atkin, Computer Gaming World, number 146, September, 1996, pg. 78.
Denny Atkin,
Steve Woods,
Joe Porter, 90%