ATF 2 logo

Publisher: Digital Integration Price: £24.99

The 'thinking man's shoot-'em-up' is a peculiar beast, attempting as it does to blend elements of two distinctly different styles of game, arcade action and strategy. In some cases, such as Elite, the mix works extremely well. Does ATF manage it?

Just in case you still think this is an outright arcade game, it opens with an options section designed to make you think about what you're going to do.

Before getting off the ground you must balance your on-board armament from a choice of cannon, sidewinders, and mavericks, and weigh up your destructive potential against fuel carried. You are also given a tactical view of the battlefield over which you are about to die, er fly.

Once you've sorted out where you want to go and what gifts you'd like to drop on the locals, it's time to get strapped in and take off. From this point on, the action takes place over a pseudo-3D landscape from Afterburner type of viewpoint.

By utilising a 'database' of reported enemy vehicles and installations, you then fly around trying to tilt the balance of power in your favour by blowing up as many of them as possible.

The head-up display aids you in this by helpfully pointing the way on the compass bar at the top. The three multi-function displays can be used to pull up anything from a screen on the status of your remaining ammo to atiny map of the local area.

In this respect, there is plenty in ATF to keep you busy and alert. The strategy element is just effective enough to drag you out of your homicidal stupor for long enough to find your next most important target, while the action element can sometimes deliver a decent boost to your adrenalin.

Enemy jets are the most dangerous obstacles to your mission, and come screaming in from both front and rear. The only way to spot them before they're pumping shells into your fuselage is to keep a weather eye on the local map.

Anti-aircraft missiles are another pain in the thrusters, but can be effectively neutralised by hitting the Jam Missile button as soon as you get the missile warning.

Putting the payload where it counts is what the game is all about and can be far from easy. Factories and airfields can zip past your wings before you've got time to change the active weapon from sidewinders to mavericks, forcing you into a lengthy turn for another run. With jets and AA missiles whizzing around everywhere, this can often be a fatal exercise.

Come to think of it, this whole game seems a bit of a fatal exercise. When you consider that DI has brought us classics as Fighter Pilot on the 8-bit machines, and Combat Pilot on the 16-bit, the game just doesn't cut the mustard.

ATF aims for the arcade element of games like Afterburner and the strategy element of Digital Integration's best game, F-16 Combat Pilot, but falls short of both.
The attempt is simply not cohesive enough to hold the interest after a game or two, and the resultant mishmash fails to excel in either area.

ATF 2 logo

DIGITAL INTEGRATION £24.99 * Joystick and Mouse

Two years ago, Digital Integration made their mark with the flight-sim hit F-16 Combat Pilot. Now they're back again with a new game, ATF II, but unlike its predecessor it's centred around a fictitious aircraft from the 21st century, the Advanced Tactical Fighter.

Your mission is to fly your ATF through a collection of missions, attacking ground, sea and airborne targets until your opponent is vanquished. To make this difficult, the enemy is a real, dynamic force that grows in size as you progress through the game.

You may be busy taking hits off him in one area: winning great battles and destroying his resources, only to find in another, at the end of the mission, he has been busy carving up your homelands.

Playing the game is simple. There is little of F-16 Combat Pilot's detail and complex systems.

Top-ish Gun
Instead, you have only the most basic functions: weapons selection, a map, flight readouts and an automatic "Ariadne's Thread" that guides you to your next target.

These systems are easy to get to grips with and require minimal setting-up (with the mouse) leaving you to concentrate on the important job of engaging the enemy. The enemy comes in two distinct forms: fighter planes, which track in from the front or rear and flak, ground-based artillery fire, which blooms up into the sky as you approach the more strategic targets. To fight the planes you need to use the RL (roll) button on the console to flip you up-and-over and VT (vectored-thrust) to jump back behind them.

Normally the danger is increased by the enemy's liberal use of missiles which you must jam (by pressing the Missile Alert button when it flashes). If you can make it through this kind of hassle, the flak is not too much of a problem, as it isn't guided and you can dodge your way through it.

Engage Target
Locking on to targets is another simplification of old F-16 Combat Pilot tricks. Providing you have the correct air-to-ground weapon armed, a small square box on the HUD will show you the chances of a hit.

When a diamond is overlaid on the box, the missile is locked-on and can be released with a good chance of target destruction. Some targets are better-off just damaged, as your troops will be able to use that location to strengthen your resources, but you have little control over this element of the gameplay.

ATF II uses a combination of 3D-filled vector-graphic techniques (similar to those used in Falcon, F29 and F-16) and standard bitmap sprites are more common in road-race games. The overall effect is smooth, but not altogether convincing the reason being that you tend to feel a bit constrained by the repetitive attack patterns and the lack of ground detail.

Musically ATF II has a really solid, basic theme which is quite exciting in a Thunderbirds/Top Gunny sort of wa. The effects however do not help to convey the action and thrill of really "being there", and so falls into the standard mode of machine-guns, engine whine and politely rumbling explosions.

ATF 2 logo

Ist irgendjemand auf der Suche nach einer "einmaligen Mischung von Arkadenaktionund unglaublicher Strategie"? Demjenigen könnten wir nämlich schonmal verraten, welches Game er sich besser nicht zulegen sollte.

Werbesprüche auf Spielepackungen sind ja immer mit Vorsicht zu genießen, aber in diesem Fall ist man vor lauter Übertreibung der Wahrheit schon wieder verdächtig nahe gekommen"Die ganze Strategie bei ATF II besteht nämlich darin, den Feind abzuballern, ehe er einem zuvorkommt - unglaublich strategisch.

Zunächst darf man sich seine Mannschaft und eine Mission aussuchen, anschließend wird der Flieger betankt und mit Waffen ausgerüstet. Im Cockpit sitzend, sieht man die schachbrett-artige Vektorlandschaft mit dem eigenen Flugzeug im Vordergrund; darunter befinden sich drei umschaltbare Monitore für Übersichtskarte, Radar, Feind-objekte und Flugdaten.

Die Feinde sind zwar zahlreich, aber mühelos zu erledigen. Fliegen tut das Ding zudem mehr oder weniger von allein - mit einem Wort, die Angelegenheit ist ausgesprochen langweilig!

Die Grafik ruckelt zwar leicht, ist aber sonst in Ordnung; die Soundeffekte kommen über ein bißchen Hintergrundrauschen und Schlachtenlärm nicht hinaus. Bei der Handhabung muß man unterscheiden: Im Normalfall ist sie fürchterlich, weil man mit dem Joystick fliegt und gleichzeitig die Maus zur Abwehr feindlicher Raketen benötigt.

Wer dagegen statt der FX die eintönige Musik anwählt, bleibt wie durch ein Wunder von Raketen verschont! Aber selbst dieses hochinteressante Feature macht ATF II keineswegs zu einer empfehlenswerten Anschaffung. (wh)

ATF 2 logo

Digital Integration, Amiga £24.99

The original ATF came out almost three years ago, earning a mere 60% in issue 37, but in making the translation to the Amiga so many improvements have been made, DI have labelled it a sequel.

The eponymous ATF, or Advanced Tactical Fighter, is shown from behind. A sprite firing over a solid 3-D landscape with sprites for enemy aircraft and 3-D for ground targets.

There are eight warzones to choose from, from the UK to the entire world. Once selected, a briefing before the flight details the balance of power in tanks, aircraft, etc and the known position of two or three targets. It's up to you to scout for more enemies during the mission and take them out, returning to base to re-arm afterwards. The ATF also comes with an ejector seat, moving map and missile jammers.

Robin Hogg ATF II is sadly lacking variety. After completing it on skill level one relatively quickly, the absence of new features on higher skill levels put me off playing it again. The idea of reconnaissance first, followed by selected strikes after is a good one but enemy behaviour is simplistic, and tackling MiG's soon becomes repetitive. Good rock track, though.
Stuart Wynne The old ATF did well on the Speccy, combining fast graphics with a modicum of strategy and sim details, but it's hardly a £25 product. The 3-D is unimpressive with minimal variety, while good presentation and a plethora of sim touches such as vectored thrust for tight turns look nice but add little to gameplay.