Top Gun

Tremendous attention to detail makes this flight sim worth a look.

If you can't tell the difference between an afterburner and an afterthought, "Fighter's Anthology" probably isn't the right place for you to start playing a flight sim. Jane's Combat Simulations are insanely detailed, and their software is often used to train and simulate combat situations for the US marine fighter pilots. However, global marketing has afforded this series a chance at the limelight and this makes the game a carefully crafted challenge for the experienced gamer; "Fighter's Anthology" is challenging, imaginative and very realistic.

The game encourages you to fly in a variety of missions and weather conditions, in accordance with your own specifications. It also responds to the type of aircraft you choose, which could vary from an F-17 Nighthawk to a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom fighter. Should you ever feel the need to customize your weaponry, there are adequate provisions made to arm your craft to the teeth with whatever missile you think would impress the girls most.

The game's complexity is surpassed only by its realistic interface and pilot controls. The overlapping settings for advanced maneouvers, pursuit tactics and combat devices will be familiar to the expert gamer, although novices may have trouble remembering which switch does what.

Understanding the combat mode is vital to the completion of certain missions and involves the addition of various electronic countermeasures and flares that confuse the enemy's heat-seeking missiles. The afterburners provide a temporary burst of energy for the pilot to facilitate a quick exit from an embarrassing situation. However, the latter tends to consume fuel rapidly and could cost you the entire mission if you throw caution to the wind.

The marked difference between the novice and the veteran becomes strikingly clear in this game, and experienced gamers could literally fly circles around newbies unfamiliar with flight protocol; vertical loops, yaws and yo-yos are just some of the ludicrous terms you'll have to acquaint yourself with to get by in this aerial minefield.

Jane's earlier attempts at commercial civilian simulations don't drastically differ from this game, and the attention to detail is enough to give you (and your PC) the ride of a lifetime. With no compromise on quality and detail, this is a perfect buy for those of you into flight sims.

This article was first published on 18 Apr 2001.