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U. S. Navy Fighters '97
Preview by Al Giovetti
Price: $55
Genre: flight combat simulator
Developer: Origin Jane's Combat Simulations
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Phone: 800-245-4525
Requirements: Pentium, 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, 25 MB hard disk space, Windows 95, 2X CD ROM, Sound Blaster compatible sound card, mouse, "DirectX Compatible" sound & video card, USNF '97 CD required for play, Recommended: Pentium 120, 6X CD ROM, Joystick, Video Card with 2MB RAM
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Company line: What is USNF '97? USNF '97 is a compilation of the original, best-selling U.S. Navy Fighters air combat simulation, the Marine Fighters add-on disc, all new Vietnam missions and campaign, plus the detailed technical information only available from Jane's Information Group®. Now you can fly 14 different naval combat aircraft, spanning 30 years of conflict. Fly F-4 Phantoms over the jungles of Vietnam, or F/A-18 Hornets off the coast of the Kurile Islands. Engage in vicious guns only dogfights, or precision ground strikes using fire-and-forget smart weapons. Even battle human opponents with full modem and network support. All of this, with over 100 missions, across three separate campaigns.

In addition to the classic, award-winning gameplay of the original U.S. Navy Fighters and Marine Fighters products, with USNF '97 you get the feature most requested by USNF enthusiasts - Vietnam era missions and aircraft, and an all new Vietnam campaign. We've also added detailed technical data on all of the military hardware in the game, including video footage, photos, and specifications, all courtesy of Jane's. Plus full multiplayer support with 2-player modem and 8-player network. And if that's not enough, send in your USNF or USNF Gold CD along with the rebate card enclosed in the USNF '97 box, and get a $15 rebate.

ATF was designed as a cutting edge combat flight simulation in both content and technology. That's why it has highly detailed textures and terrain, and breakable 3D objects, as well as 21st century aircraft. USNF '97 is a compilation of the original U.S. Navy Fighters products, plus the content most requested by USNF enthusiasts - Vietnam planes and missions. So, while we didn't update the shapes from the original products, USNF '97 does have all new shapes from the Vietnam era, plus more content than any other simulation on the market, with 30 years of naval air combat, 14 playable, accurately modeled aircraft, over 100 realistic missions, full multiplayer support, and technical data only available from Jane's. usnf12.gif - 78.7 K

Now you get detailed information on all of the planes that is only available through Jane's Information Group, the world-wide source for technical specs on all military hardware, and the only civilian organization to have offices in the Pentagon. Access 75 minutes of video, 500+ photos, 3D models, schematics, and descriptions for ALL of the hardware in the game. That's fighters, bombers, helicopters, tanks, missiles, SAMs, you name it. Want to know the fire rate for the 40mm rapid fire cannons in the AC-130U? How about the design specs of the F-22A? With Jane's Combat Simulations, you get more detailed information and realistic performance than in any other simulation product.

No, USNF '97 is not compatible with ATF, because USNF '97 is Windows 95 and ATF is a DOS product.

Lead realistic air and ground missions against North Vietnam in an new historical campaign based on actual U.S. carrier operations.

Experience the realism and detail of Jane's with 35 minutes of video, plus photos and technical data of naval aircraft.

The game includes all the Original Missions. Includes the original US Navy Fighters and Marine Fighters campaigns and missions, and the all new Vietnam campaign - That's 110 ways to test your combat skills against a variety of enemy aircraft.

If you own USNF you can get a $15 rebate from EA Jane's Combat Simulations presents the '97 edition of the best selling flight sim, U.S. Navy Fighters '97, featuring four new planes, multiplayer gaming, a native Windows® 95 environment, and complete Jane's reference material on all USNF aircraft.

This new, '97 edition covers an era of naval air combat by combining the original software, the Marine Fighters data disk, and the most requested feature - a Vietnam campaign. Experience the toughest air combat in modern history as you conduct carrier-based air attacks, make precision strikes with the first generation 'smart' weapons, and splash MiG 17s in vicious air-to-air encounters. usnf17.gif - 48.4 K

History: 1n 1995, Electronic Arts released a game produced by the re-assembled parts of the original team that made the classic Chuck Yeager Air Combat game. The new game was called U. S. Navy Fighters (Al Giovetti reviewed both of these games, when they were released -Ed.). Several great innovations that were initiated with that game continue in the current versions. One of the things I especially liked was the no cockpit mode, which allowed you to see more of your enemy, more often. Another innovation was a real time flight envelope that allowed you to keep track of your fighter's energy and turning capacity on a graph that was continually updated on the screen.

The third most favorite feature, was Yeager vision which simulated the phenomenal vision of combat pilots like Chuck Yeager who could see twice as far as someone with "perfect 20/20 vision". Yeager had 20/10 vision. Even our own, Doug Call has 20/12 vision (read Doug's biography here on the board for insight on what this type of eyesight means in combat and everyday life -Ed.). The ability to see planes and identify them at twice the distance is a great advantage even in this age of electronic detection.

Plot: This new game puts you in the cockpit of various past, present, and future U. S. Navy aircraft, from over 35 years of combat against some of the best AI pilots of these eras in the most exciting conflicts the United States has had.

Game play: Windows 95 is not really an advantage to this game, but it does mean that you have to have a much higher horsepower Computer to play the game. DirectX lowers the horsepower requirement to manageable levels, but this one is still pushing the envelope. Yes even though the game says 97 at the end of the title, do not confuse this game with the new Microsoft 97 products designed for the release later this year of Windows 97.

Some of the excellent features from the original game are repeated in this edition. The pre-mission briefing, equipping and planning screens allow you to select planes and ordinance and view the detailed mission parameters. Another new feature is expert targeting that requires that you use the target vortex to get a kill shot.

Campaigns: There are now three campaigns: the original USNF campaign, the Marine Fighters expansion or data disk add-on mission campaign, and the all new Vietnam campaign. Divided into the three campaigns are over 110 missions.

The new Vietnam era campaign is supported by four Vietnam era aircraft that you can fly on missions (see below), historical mission footage, pictures, maps, and other information are incorporated to produce these missions from the most selected campaign era of the fans.

You fly: Janes has added four new Vietnam Era aircraft to the original 10. Fly the legendary F-4J Phantom, F-8E Crusader, MiG-17 "Fresco" and MiG-21 "Fishbed." Fly 14 Available Aircraft: F-4B Phantom (NEW!), Crusader (NEW!), F-14B Tomcat, F/A 18D Hornet, F-22A Lightning II, A-7E Corsair II, AC-130U Spectre, MiG-17F Fresco (NEW!), MiG-21F Fishbed-C (NEW!), SU-33 Flanker-D, AV-8B Harrier II, Sea Harrier FRS.2, Yak-141 Freestyle-A, F-104N Starfighter.

All planes have realistic physics and performance. The service life of the planes covers over 30 years of naval air combat, from the Vietnam war to the turn of the century. You can fly all of the 14 previously shown accurately modeled aircraft in single missions, and most in campaign mode. In addition, you get over 25 more planes to choose from when playing in multiplayer mode. That means over 40 different aircraft to chose from!

Difficulty: There is the normal difficulty matrix or cheats that allow no readouts, no black outs, no spins, no stalls, easy targeting, unlimited guns, unlimited weapons, invulnerability, and others that increase accessibility, playability and reduce the learning curve on the game. USNF is a model of excellence for others to attempt to imitate.

Graphics: The graphics are improved with textured breakable objects rather than the flat objects in the original game. A Pentium 133 will run fine in 640 x 480 pixel resolution while the higher resolutions of 1200 x 1024 may require a Pentium 200 with MMX technology. We were unable to test the MMX since it was not released to us at the time of this review .

Animation: The higher the speed of your machine and the RAM of your system and video card, the faster and smoother the system will run.

Voice actors: Wing person, AWACs, and tower voices compliment the game well and help you to understand the action increasing situational awareness.

Music score: A good music score complements the action, but still there is nothing quite like the Falcon 3.0 music.

Sound effects: Good explosions, gun sounds and other features.

Utilities: The included mission editor allows you to increase replayability beyond the 110 included missions.

Documentation: New for U. S. Navy Fighters 97 is the Janes Combat Simulations support with over 75 minutes of flight videos, over 500 photos, and pages and pages of Janes data on the planes and equipment in the game.

Multi-player: The game supports networks with IPX/SPX compatible Protocol for 2-8 players, 2 players over 100% Hayes compatible 14.4 Kbps or faster modem, and 2 players over null modem or direct serial connection. You can now engage in vicious dogfights with other pilots over a modem or network.

Hints and Tips: At the new Janes web site it says, "Look for hints, tactics, and strategies to US Navy Fighters '97 in the Grunt's Quarterly magazine (found in the Officer's Club). We will keep you updated on new columns and articles as they appear in the magazine, look for the links below:" Then below it says, "GQ Magazine Strategies Coming Soon!" We wonder how soon soon is.

Use the external player to target view when in particularly difficult dogfights to keep the enemy plane in view.

Future plans:

Jeffrey Tschiltsch, Computer Player, volume 3, number 6, January, 1997, pg. 72, 90%, CP Recommended.
Al Giovetti, U. S. Navy Fighters, Electronic Entertainment, volume 2, number 3, March, 1995, pg. 74.
Al Giovetti, Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, Simulations, 1991
T. Liam McDonald,, 79%
Chris Jensen,, 70%
William Trotter, Boot, volume 1, number 7, March, 1997, pg. 90, 90%.