Combat flight simulator are old hat these days, but nothing could ever prepare you for the kind of hard-ass butt kicking power that is the trademark of Fairchild Republic's legendary A10 Thunderbolt. Put simply, it's one hell of an aircraft. Sure, it goes without saying that the Thunderbolt can dish out some pretty mean fire-
Most combat aircraft are pretty fragile things at the best of times, but the Thunderbolt is the Biffa Bacon of the US airforce. It can lose huge chunks of wing, and even one of its two engines and still keep on flying - try doing that with an F29 Retalliator! Put simply, if you want to come back alive, then the A10 is the plane to fly.
Star of the Gulf War and West country window-
So, if you feel man (or woman) enough for the job, it's time to strap on your Biggles flight goggles, wrap your white scarf around your neck and go in search of something to destroy.
Strategy is an all-important part of the game, but for the muscle heads among you, there's an option which allows you to fly straight into the thick of battle, blasting away with your 30 mm cannons and Maverik 'fire and forget' missiles. There are seven different missions which you can undertake, ranging from tank busting to taking out bridges to stop the enemy advance.
A10 really comes into its own in campaign mode. You play exactly the same seven missions that you would normally, but all must be played in succession. Just like in real life however, you can't screw up one mission and then expect to carry on as normal when you move onto the next. Your success within previous missions will have a marked effect on the ease of your next. If you screw up totally, you may even cause the war below you to be lost, forcing surrender to enemy forces.
As you'd expect, gameplay is executed in good old solid 3D, but it's far from perfect. Most of the time things runs smoothly enough, but the game can slow down to a veritable crawl when the action hots up. Unfortunately, it's times like this when you most need to be able to get out of trouble quickly. Your A10 may be able to take a fair bit of punishment, but it's not indestructible!
A10 Tank Buster is a great game which is let down only by the speed of its graphics. The attention to detail leaves other combat flight sims grounded, whilst the atmosphere it generates is second to none. It's just a shame Dynamix hadn't managed to get things running at a slightly faster frame rate. If they had, A10 Tank Buster would have been one hell of a game. As it is, it can often leave you frustrated.