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Jetfighter III Review by Al Giovetti
Price: $50 - $60
Genre: Combat Flight Simulator
Release: November 21, 1996
Producer: Matt Harmon
Developer: Mission Studios
Phone: 708-991-0598
Web site: www.missionstudios.com
Designer: Bob Dinnerman
Publisher: Interplay
Website: www.interplay.com/games/jfiii.html
Requirements: 486 DX2, 66 MHz, Windows 95 or DOS 6.0, 8 MB RAM, SVGA, 2X CD ROM, sound card

History: In 1987, Matt Harmon produced FA-18 Interceptor for the Amiga for Velocity, which was the name Mission Studios was going under at that time. Many felt and still feel that this was the best flight simulator of the year. In 1989, Velocity released Jetfighter, which was dubbed by PC Magazine, "the best flight simulator on a desktop, period." And while many were a little amazed at how convinced the PC Magazine writer was, no one could deny that Jetfighter had many appealing aspects and sold well in the stores, establishing Velocity as a force to be reckoned with in the game production universe. It was the game in the odd shaped, not-quite-rectangular box where you got to fly the F-14 Tomcat, F-16 Falcon, and F/A-18 Hornet with keyboard controls on over 30 missions with 5 training missions.

Two years later, in 1991, Velocity released Jetfighter II which continued the tradition of high-quality products, and reinforced the confidence of the large, loyal followers of the Jetfighter line of products. This version of the game was the first to use light sourcing, and a graduated horizon to simulate reality. Now many are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for Velocity to bring out the next product in this line of flight simulators. jfiii03.jpg - 27.3 K

Planes you fly: F-22m and F/A-18 are the planes you fly in the game. Unfortunately, the F-14 Tomcat, my personal favorite due to the Phoenix missiles, was omitted in the final version of the game.

Planes you fly against:

Artificial intelligence:

Modes: Quick single mission, free flight for practice without opposition and campaign modes are supported.

Missions’ and Campaigns’ Plots: Two branching scripted campaigns: Cuba with part of Florida and Chile with part of Argentina and Antarctica. The use of these locals is somewhat unique and is a welcome change from other theatres of operation that have been used so often in these games. The vistas out of the canopy include rugged, steep sided mountains with deep canyons and detailes shorelines unlike those in other games.

Scripted campaigns comprise a total of over 90 missions. Scripted missions have more interest than those dynamically created, since those writing the script can add those little human personal touches to the information that we all love. Scripted also allows for better full motion video or animated briefings, debriefings, and plot elements between the missions. Add on disks with new terrain and campaigns are planned.

Weapons: do not match those for the real F-22.

Briefings: Mission Studios have created a virtual Nimitz class nuclear aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Peacekeeper, where you are assigned your own stateroom, have access to email, review the historical situation within the scenario, review your kill and strike record. An interactive map allows you to automatically move between parts of the ship. In the ship library there are over 500 pages of statistical information on the planes and equipment which rival the famed Janes books for level of detail. Each mission also has debriefings to go over the mission details after completion. Once finished with the briefings you can review and modify weapons loadouts.

Realism: Since your F-22 will be landing and taking off from an aircraft carrier, which is currently impossible, proposed naval variant withstanding, even if ATF allowed it, this is considered to be a breach of realism. One combat pilot commented on this feature simply by saying "ridiculous."

Graphics: High resolution graphics, Over 3.5 million miles of accurately modeled terrain based upon digital elevation map data but not satellite pictures. The renderings were completed with a new technology called Dynamic Nexus Archetecture or 3DNA Sequencing. The 3DNA eliminates warping while retaining high levels of detail. Fractals are used to increase surface detail. The renderings include South America, Cuba, Antarctica and USA. Screen resolutions of 320x200 and 640x480 pixles with adjustments for clouds, ground detail, plane detail, visability and others help to increase and increase graphics and maximize frame rate. jfiii04.jpg - 60.2 K

Animation is smooth even on a 486 machine due to continuously adjustable freame rate, screen size, visibility, and resolution. But on the highest settings even a 200 MHz machine would not be up to the frame rate needed.

Voice actors:

Music score:

Sound effects: Sound effects are excellently done and Include waves breaking on and over the carrier, wheel squeels, and engine noise.

Compare to: The game was released simultaneously with several other contenders for the top F-22 honors: Advanced Tactical Fighters and iF-22 Lightning

Utilities: Supports the CH Products Force Feedback FX joystick. The manual is long, loaded with tons of details about aircraft, armament, tactics and well worth the read.

Multiplayer: An add-on disk is expected to add multiplayer features for LAN and modem, both null and phone, play.

Future plans: Jetfighter IV?

Journalists: Lee feels that the game will be liked by arcade and flight sim fanatics alike. Lee says he is an arcade flight sim fan more than a grognard.

Denny Atkin, Computer Gaming World, number 138, December, 1996, pg.
Denny Atkin www.zdnet.com/gaming/content/951116/rev4/main.html (same as above)
Denny Atkin, Computer Gaming World, number 146, September, 1996, pg. 50-63.
William Trotter, Boot, volume 2, number 7, March, 1997, pg. 84, 90%.
Lee Hamel, Computer & Net Player, volume 3, number 10, March, 1997, pg. 70, 80%.
Dominic Silk, PC Games, volume 4, number 3, March, 1997, pg. 79, 75%.
Next Generation, May, 1997, pg. 156, 90%.


  1. From: "Ron Nelson"

    Dear sirs:

    I own Jetfighter III and the Enhanced Campaign CD.

    While I really like the program there are a few things I would like to see added to the program.

    For instance, it would be nice to see bridges and main highways added, an upgrade for the existing programs. The Florida terrain is missing high-rise buildings and other landmarks that would make it more realistic to fly over and navigate.

    Since the program terrain is not world wide it would be nice to see connecting terrain to get to the other terrain contained on each CD.

    The old jetfighter program had a better map program. You could zoom out so that you could see about where the terrain you were flying over is located in relation to the entire area you were flying in. Can you make an upgrade to add the aforementioned?

    I think it would be good to change the color of the brake indicator on the HUD so that it stands out when on during high action combat.

    I would like to see the weapons have separate switches so that you do not have to toggle through them or at least an option to separate them for use on advanced joysticks.

    I would like to see you add the United States as the next terrain package, Australia and New Zealand as the one after that, Northern and Eastern Europe after that, more of Asia after that and the rest of South America and Africa after that.

    Also, I have discovered that the terrain from the Eastern part of the Dominican Republic to the Eastern end of the Caribbean theater is missing. Only the airstrips are present where Puerto Rico should be. Could you please send me a replacement CD.

    I would like to see other panning mode switches added. One for panning up from whatever view you are in at the time. One for panning down from whatever view you are in at the time. Others for panning in increments from whatever view mode you are in (toggling for opposite directions).

    I would like to see a warning light added to warn you when you are getting too close to another aircraft (and to tell you which direction to turn or from which direction the other aircraft is closing in from.

    It would be nice to see the ceiling height of each aircraft type printed on its control panel (where it would always be visible).

    It would be nice to see the moon cycle through its phases.

    It would be nice to see a few docks, ships and boats.

    It would also nice to be able to toggle in a few civilian aircraft even in the free-flight mode.

    Thanks for listening!

    Ron Nelson

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