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F-19 Stealth Fighter

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Released: 1990

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: Amiga 500

Publisher: MicroProse

Developer: MPS Labs

Submitted by: Darran Jones

As a product, this hits all the right buttons right from the start, with a heavy Microprose big box and its glossy outer sleeve: inside the box you find a keyboard overlay(believe me, essential), large colour maps of the four areas of conflict, and a thick manual – a fondly remembered feature of Microprose games.

The manual gives details on basic flight, dogfighting techniques, a synopsis of the F-19(which turns out to be rather wide of the mark in some instances, remember this game was originally conceived before the F-117, on which it was based, was officially unveiled), and fantastic detailing of all the weaponry and aircraft which appear in the simulation.

The game features four scenarios, from Libya with its minimal defences, through to the Soviet empire in central Europe with the most heavily defended airspace in the world. Missions are many and varied with a steadily rising difficulty level, if you choose to accept it. Munitions can be chosen from a large list, including guided missiles, laser-guided bombs, retard and freefall bombs, and air to air missiles.

This is not the usual flight-sim, there’s more emphasis on avoiding enemy fighters, flying low and straight to avoid increasing the size of your radar signature, and plotting way-points through the terrain to thread through the radar defences.

Each mission has a primary and secondary target to be hit, and points are awarded for successful mission achievements, and there is also a medal award sequence, with a roster of your achievements and awards which can be saved to disk.

Visually, this is not mind blowing, although graphics are up to standard for the time. What makes the game stand out is the strategy and careful thinking needed to complete a mission – fly fast and high in a straight line to your target will result in instant destruction.

The fun comes from planning routes around and through radar stations, flying low and slow to reduce the radar sig, making sure there is enough fuel to complete missions and choosing the right munitions to match your mission – A much more cerebral flight sim, and ultimately more enjoyable for it.