It's the Biffa Bacon of the USAF

A-10 Tank Killer logo

Publisher: Dynamix - 1Mb required Price: £24.95

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-power, but what makes this machine one mean motha' is that it can take just as much as it can give.

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-shattering 'fly bys', the awesome combat potential of the A10 has been captured within Dynamix's latest release. It's a combat flight simulator which puts you in the hot seat of the aircraft that was once described by a US Airborne Ranger as 'the only true friend of the modern US Infantryman'.

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.

A-10 Tank Killer logo

Dinamics £24.99

The wart-hog has landed. Yes, A10 is now being distributed in the UK. It allows you to take the stick of one of America's ugliest, but deadly of planes, in a campaign against Warsaw pact tanks.

The package is filled with digitised links and fancy graphics footwork. The sim is a tad slow - even on the lowest level of detail - but it makes for an amusing blast.

A-10 has some neat features, such as wingmen missions where you fly as part of a squadron, but is best viewd as a luxury addition to any Amiga airforce as it lacks the necessary speed to cut it with front-line fliers.

Die Warzenschweine fliegen wieder!

A-10 Tank Killer logo

Wenn ein Flugzeug schon den Spitznamen "Warzenschwein" (Warthog) trägt, darf man sich keine fliegende Schönheitskönigin erwarten. Aber wenn ein Spiel der erste PC-Flugsimulator mit vollen 256 Farben war, sollte man sich auf dem "Grafikwunder" Amiga schon ein halbwegs ebenbürtige Umsetzung erwarten dürfen...

Den entzückenden Beinamen verdankt die A-10 ihrem Aussehen, das halt rein nach praktischen Gesichtspunkten ausgerichtet ist und nicht nach optischen. Und in der Praxis bestreitet die A-10 nun mal keine dramatischen Luftkämpfe in schwindelerregender Höhe wie z.B. eine F-16; stattdessen wird sie vor allem zur Unterstützung der Bodentruppen eingesetzt (ähnlich wie Hubschrauber).

Dafür braucht der Vogel auch nicht besonders schnell zu sein - es genügt, wenn er haufenweise Bomben transportieren kann. Abgesehen von den rekordverdächtigen Mengen an Waffen, die in und an so einer A-10 Platz finden, hat dieses häßliche Entlein auch in punkto Stabilität ihren schnittigeren Kollegen einiges voraus; Wenn mal ein Motor ausfällt oder ein Flügel lahmt, fliegt man einfach mit dem beschädigten Rest weiter (Warzenschweine sind zäh!).

Bei den Missionen wird zwar nur das Übliche geboten, dafür aber in akzeptabler Vielfalt: das obligatorische Training, Ausschalten von Bodenzielen (bevorzugt Panzer), Stellungen verteidigen und ein kompletter Kleinkrieg. Interessant dabei ist, daß man sich hier seine Lorbeeren weniger als Einzelkämpfer verdient, sondern meist mit anderen Piloten im Team arbeiten muß (Warzenschweine sind Herdentiere!).

Der Schwierigkeitsgrad ist veränderbar bis hin zu einer unzerstörbaren A-10 - mit der man allerdings nicht in die Highscoreliste kommt. Die Benutzerführung ist einfach und übersichtlich gestaltet, trotz Steuerung über Joystick, Maus und Tastatur.

Ebenso einfach läßt sich auch das Flugzeug selbst bedienen, was zwar sehr angenehm für Pilotenneulinge ist, aber nicht gerade für eine hohe Realitätsnähe spricht.

Das bisher Gesagte gilt genauso für die PC- wie die Amigaversion, aber was hat sich nun bei der Umsetzung auf unsere "Freundin" alles verändert? Nun, die Grafik hat etwas Federn lassen müssen und ist ein ganzes Stück langsamer geworden. Auf der niedrigsten Detailstufe ist das Tempo zwar noch erträglich, auf der höchsten aber unbeschreiblich lahm. Schade, denn der Flug läßt sich aus den verschiedensten Perspektiven beobachten, und es gibt einen ganzen Schwung digitalisierter Zwischenbilder. Da ist es auch wenig tröstlich, daß die Soundeffekte knackiger rüberkommen als auf dem PC-Piepser, zumal die gebotene Musik nicht gerade sehr aufregend ist.

Alles in allem eine etwas enttäuschende Umsetzung dieses eigentlich ausgezeichneten Flugsimulators. Dennoch: Wer gerne mit einem handlichen und pflegeleichten Maschinchen durch die Lüfte segelt, ist bei A-10 Tank Killer ganz gut aufgehoben. (mm)

A-10 Tank Killer logo

'Mummy, will I be a MicroProse flight sim when I grow up?' 'No, son, I'm afraid you'll only ever be an A-10 Tank Killer game'. Unfortunately for Dynamix, we only got around to reviewing this latest flight simulator thang after playing F-15 Strike Eagle II and it's certainly suffered quite a lot in the comparison.

It might sound harsh, but not only does this fail to push the boundaries of flight sims forwards any, it actually knocks them back a bit.

Let me explain. That time and effort has been put into it is all too evident, but they've made the classic flight sim mistake. Yes, once again they only seem to have realised far too late in the day that the amount of depth they've tried to cram into it is totally ruining the gameplay.

I know I seem to be eternally abnging on about flight simulators being too slow, but having played games such as F/A-18, F29, F-19 and F-15 II I've been treated to sims which are technically accurate (as accurate as I need, anyway), fast and fun to play.

It's a shame that the same can't be said of this one, because the presentation is immaculate, and the missions can be great fun. Knocking out various bridges, convoys and of course tanks is an excellent way to relieve aggression.

A-10's trump card, though, is the fact that (maybe even more effectively than F-15 Strike Eagle II) it manages to create the impression of a real world. Messages are constantly coming through on the radio, informing you of countless movements within the warzone, and you even get a co-pilot giving you 'help'. The whole thing feels alive with action and movement.

Of course, no modern flight sim would be complete without lots of external camera views and the like, and A-10 has enough of them to keep graphics freaks happy. If only they'd put a turbo n the 3D graphics routines (which apparently is what the PC version feels like), I'd be giving it a mark somewhere in the eighties. But they didn't. So I won't.

A-10 Tank Killer logo

Dynamix, Sierra/Amiga (1 MEG ONLY) £34.99

Being an American import, I managed to get my hands on A-10 before Robin and from my experience with the PC version was able to review it quickly enough for this issue. So adventure fans needn't worry that Think Tank's going to turn into an sim section, and sim fans can be reassured this isn't a text adventure with fancy graphics!

A-10 Tank Killer is obviously enough a flight simulation of the USAF's A-10 Thunderbolt - or Warthog as it is affectionately known by all 'Hog -Drivers'. Those of you weaned on little else but F-16s might wonder what the hell an A-10 actually is. Primarily, they are used alongside battlefield helicopters in the close air support role. They are slow enough to identify and attack ground targets but they come with high survivability and a greater weapons load than helicopters.

A-10s have a distinctive shape and the largest and mast powerful gun ever mounted on an aircraft. Called the Avenger 30mm cannon, it fires depleted uranium shells at a rate of 4,200 rounds per minute. Enough to atomise a tank at 4,000 yards. It is generally rated as being 'one mean muvva'.

While the game is aerodynamically accurate it should appeal to the player who would normally avoid flight sims altogether: it won't snow you under with technical specifications. In fact, die-hard flight-sim fanatics will criticise it for its lack of certain details. For example, the game's A-10 is a two-seat version whereas the only active service version of the A-10 is the single-seat version. In addition, you don't have to land if you don't want to and the time has been compressed in certain areas.

Also, the main flight adversary is called a MiG-27-but looks more like a Su-25. However, Dynamix are fully aware of these facts. They intend A-10 to be more of an entertainment package. That is not to say that flight-sim aficionados won't enjoy it. I am and l did!

In fact the graphics are A-10's star quality. Dynamix have used digitised photos of real actors, taken on location, kitted out with real flight gear to give you maximum atmosphere. You want a realistic cockpit display? The game has a digitised cockpit from a genuine A-10! And there ore other digitised screens of the aircraft itself (the weapon loading screen, for example).

All of the other graphics are solid 3-D affairs which are detailed and smooth. A good demo of the 3-D graphics is the Vehicle Preview option. This shows you each individual vehicle (including aircraft and helicopters) that you will meet in the game. Other impressive screens are the status screen which shows any damage taken, along with an animated weapons inventory and multiple views inside and outside of the aircraft.

The game itself consists of six different missions. They tend to he varied, multi-port affairs. For example, one mission asks you to hit a supply dump. However, you must also provide close air support for a platoon of tanks which will take out the SAM sites for you AND keep a nearby bridge open for allied support. In fact the main area of the game is the campaign. Here, you will cycle through each mission but every action you make will affect events later on. The more failures you have initially, the more difficult things will he later on - both for ourse1f and the rest of the armed forces. Dynamix have promised further scenario disks to load into the original game.

The great thing about A-10 is that you really feel you are part of a team. Missions usually involve lots of aircraft and the inter-pilot chatter is an excellent feature. Radio messages appear on-screen informing you of mission updates, or orders from your flight leader or just to 'back off!' if you fly too close to someone during a mission.

When you play Falcon, for example, you get the feeling it is you against the world. However in A-10 it is more of 'You hit the MiGs, I'll hit the SAMs and Buddy here will blast the anti-aircraft guns. Let's go for it. Yee-hah!' So you feel more involved, the action appears more realistic and you end up with a real knot in you hear 'I'm hit! I'm Hit' and you watch your wingman turn into a ball of fire. A-10 Tank Killer is thoroughly recommended - it is pure entertainment.