Jet Fighter is a name that should ring loud through the halls of flight sim fame. Since the original Jet Fighter from Velocity, this series has offered a slightly more arcade style flight sim which concentrated more on actual flight combat, and less on the gory details of 'engage target systems, adjust radar range, activate missiles'...
In this respect Jet Fighter has offered the arm chair pilot an easier route into the often overly complex world of PC flight combat simulators.
A Brief History
One of the other interesting aspects of the original Jetfighter was the dynamic campaign scenario, where the next missions available were dictated by the performance in the previous sortie. This is a now a fairly common feature, but back then it was something a little more impressive.
The second game was imaginatively titled "Jetfighter 2", and brought with it a far greater scope of options. Graphically the game was immensely superior to the first as, instead of just flat shaded polygons making up the aircraft, we now had goraud shading. Of course, the models were primitive by today's standards, but at the time they were more than acceptable and still ran well on the 386 computers of the time.
Another great feature was the support for different times of day. The first did differentiate between night and day, but with the second it was possible to really get the feeling of flying at 4:30 in the morning as the sun rises above the Pacific.
The third game arrived a few years later and, as a fan, I found it perhaps a little disappointing. As usual it offered more missions and a substantial upgrade to the graphics engine, which took advantage of the limited 3D hardware available at the time to produce outstanding graphics. But the game strayed a little from its roots, and become somewhat more technical to fly.
And so we come to the fourth instalment, creatively known as "Jetfighter 4". Velocity are still the developers, which means that there is a lot of the original idea behind the series in this new game.
Obviously the campaign and mission systems have been tweaked in order to meet what is expected of games these days, and from the preview code we have seen Jetfighter 4 looks good. Naturally the graphics have again been given a boost over those seen in the previous game, but there is still room for improvement - after all, this is only beta code.
So what does Jetfighter 4 allow us to fly? In true tradition the game sticks to the same aircraft that were introduced in the earlier games - the F/A 18 Hornet, F14 Tomcat, F15 Eagle, and F23 Raptor. This may seem like a limited choice, but bear in mind that as far as real combat goes, these four aircraft are more than enough to cope with any land, sea or air threat.
The flight models once again follow the ethos laid down by the original, to reduce the number of keys required, and concentrate on actually flying the plane and shooting bad guys out of the sky. The accuracy is there to some extent, and there are options to change the realism level, but thankfully it is blissfully easy to fly the planes.
I may have made the game sound rather simplistic, but it isn't just a case of move the stick and fly. There are some tricky parts to the game, one of which is carrier landing - something that you will need to become proficient in to progress through the game.
As far as the mission structure goes and how the campaign will be played out, we can't say for sure as these have obviously not been finalised yet. If the game can live up to its predecessors, the complexity of the campaign will no doubt be first rate and thoroughly engrossing, but for a final verdict on that we will have to wait and see...