King of the skies

F-16 Combat Pilot logo Amiga Computing Supreme

FLYING is difficult. It takes years and millions of pounds to train a fighter pilot. Yet the war cry among simulator buffs is "gimme realism". Well guyz, with F-16 Combat Pilot you got it. The game is seriously difficult.

There is a quick start option, but it is a bit late to worry about how to get the Westinghouse AN/APG 68(V) radar out of track-while-scan mode and into single-track-target mode when you have a Foxhound and a couple of Floggers unleashing 55kg Aphid missiles at you. You must read the manual before making any serious attempt to play.

Most of the dashboard is taken up by three VDUs which can display 10 different types of information depending on what you are doing. I mean, there is not point in using the instrument landing system while dog fighting.

Setting up the cockpit is down to personal taste. There is an instant combat mode, but you may prefer to have the artificial horizon, a special Smith's LCD design, instead of the weapons status, or Laura Ashley curtains instead of the canopy.

While taking the plane up for a quick tangle is fun, there is an ultimate objective - you have to complete Operation Conquest . To start this you must prove your worth in five areas: Dog fighting, attacks on enemy airbases, taking out strategic targets such as power stations, tankbusting and reconnaissance. Complete at least part of each mission and return safely to qualify.

Before taking off you can set the weather conditions, day or night and cloud base. For night missions you can carry the lantern, which gives night vision and can tie in with some weapons for automatic aiming. The ground crew will recommend which weapons they think you need for any mission, but you can override this at a well drawn and animated hangar screen.

The F-16 is a single seater, so in place of a navigator you have a computer. Before take off you plot a course to the targets. This is then programmed into the flight computer which will calculate a bearing while you are airborne.

It would be impossible to say if this is an accurate simulation, anyone who knows has signed a piece of paper promising not to tell. But a stop-watch and some published specs revealed a true-to-life roll rate and rate of climb. Flying is predictable, with a better frame rate than Interceptor, more accurate turning and banking than Falcon and none of the maths problems which affect Jet. It is safe to say that this is more like flying a fast jet than any other Amiga simulator.

Digital Integration has a head start in these matters. Dave Marshall - the boss - used to program real military flight simulators and has worked on the Jaguar, Lynx helicopter and Harrier. He has built up a huge library of the technical specifications for the F-16c and knows who to ask for some of the less readily available information.

For the brave of joystick there is a two-player mode which allows you to link machines with a serial cable. The weapons and conditions are chosen for you, so it is a matter of skill as to who survives the encounter.

The game has pretty Falcon style ground-based scenes and some terrestrial detail when you are in the air. The ground is flat, with pyramid hills. I suspect other aircraft are quite detailed but at Mach 2 with heat seeking missiles to worry about, my flying skills are not up to checking. Yet. I am going to improve. F-16 will take a lot longer to master than Interceptor, but is more rewarding.

There are few grounds for complaint. The graphics are a port from the ST, it does not allow you to put the save game disc into DF1: but these are niggles in a game which is worth every penny of the price, which is why I have given it the highest score yet any game has achieved in Amiga Computing.

F-16 Combat Pilot logo Amiga Format Gold

DIGITAL INTEGRATION £24.95 * Keyboard and Mouse or Joystick

If you did not want to be a fire man when you grew up, chances are you wanted tob e a jet fighter pilot. And for all but a very few of us, a combat flight sim is the closest we will come to realising our ambitions.

DI's offering, based on the popular General Dynamics' F-16C, has Mirrorsoft's excellent Falcon - based on the same plane -to contend with, so the new game will have to be good to compete.

For a start, there are four basic games: training (always a good place to start), separate missions (five in all), a campaign game and a dogfight option.

Training allows you to experiment with the plane, practice landing and even gain familiarity with the weapons. Once confident, try the separate missions which you need to complete in order to be able to take part in the campaign game. These missions include a scramble scenario, in which the idea is to get airborne ASAP and down some aggressive enemy MiGs, and an air-to-ground one in which you have to tackle an enemy tank battalion. Other scenarios include reconnaissance, runway bombing and bombing missions deep in enemy territory.

Complete every mission and you are allowed to join one of eight squadrons fighting a campaign game, in which the plan is to defend the country against an invading enemy force. You decide the missions and where ot hit the enemy in order to hurt him most, and to help you in the fight you can send up to four other aircraft on separate missions against other targets. Wipe out the enemy force and you will be promoted to another squadron where things begin to get somewhat tougher.

The only way to get to the campaign game, though, is to complete each mission and save the results to disk (creating a pilot's log). If you have had enough of the solo stuff, connect up a couple of machines with a modem cable and take on a human opponent in a gripping dogfight that will really keep you biting off those fingernails.


Everything is viewed from within the cockpit - never from a position outside the cockpit, so you do not see an external view of the plane - in fast, colourful 3D with options to let you see what is happening behind and to either side. Though the instrument panel is laid out in a standard fashion you are able to switch the position of some of the instruments to suit, which is handy. Sound is great, and though most of it is limited to the drone of the engines, it is well done.


There is plenty of action to suit the combat hungry and the attention to detail will please and delight the flight purists. Once you get into the campaign game or take on a human you will find yourself playing for hours at a stretch and coming back to it time and time again. As DI keep proving, when it comes to simulations - especially ones involving aircraft - they are very hard to beat.

F-16 Combat Pilot logo Amiga Joker Hit

Zwei Ansprüche muß ein guter Flugsimulator in besonders hohem Maß erfüllen: Möglichst realistisch soll es zugehen, und die Action darf dennoch nicht zu kurz kommen! Am beliebtesten scheint hier die Simulation einer F-16 zu sein, da sich gleich zwei Firmen entschlossen haben, den Amiga damit zu beglücken.

Werfen wir nun einen Blick auf den einzig ernst zunehmenden Konkurrenten: F-16 Combat Pilot von Digital Integration. Obwohl den Programm in Sachen Grafik und Sound auf den ersten Blick nicht mit dem Falken mithalten kann, macht es diese Mankos bei genauerem Hinsehen wieder wett. Eine Vielzahl von Optionen, wie z.B. variable Wetterverhältnisse oder Tag- und Nachtflug, sowie eine Unzahl feiner Einzelheiten sorgen für gesteigerten Realismus. So verfügt Combat Pilot nicht nur über ein viel größeres Fluggebiet als sein Konkurrent, hier machen neben drei verschiedenen MIG-Typen auch noch Hubschrauber den Himmel unsicher! Leider gibt es während des Fluges keinerlei Außenansichten zu bewundern, und auch die Benutzerführung läßt zu wünschen übrig: Vor jedem Flug muß ein Wort aus der Anleitung eingegeben werden, und das Laden eines gespeicherten Piloten wird zur Fingerübung für Diskjockeys - das Programm erkennt nur ein Laufwerk an.

Im direkten Vergleich hat Falcon die Nase einen Hauch weiter vorne, es ist die ausgereiftere Simulation. Die große Schar der Flacon-Süchtigen darf sich also freuen: die Mission Disk bringt eine Reihe neuer und interessanter Herausforderungen. Simulationsfans,die noch keines der beiden Programme besitzen, dürfen aber auch bei F-16 Combat Pilot sorglos zuschlagen - was es an Grafik und Sound vermissen läßt, macht es durch seinen Realismus wieder wett. Für Unentschlossene gilt wie immer: Laßt Euch beide Programme vorführen, ehe Ihr Euch entscheidet! (mm)

F-16 Combat Pilot logo

Digital Integration
Price £24.95

Flying in the face of the stiff competition of Falcon Mission Disk 1, F-16 makes a long awaited appearance, and happily is no sitting duck.

The basic premise is the same as Mirrorsoft's F-16 Simulation. Take an F-16, load it up with weapons, take it up, and use it to best possible effect to complete designated missions. Unlike Falcon however, you are not restricted to a small selection of set missions. Much more in the vein of simulator such as Gunship, you choose a field of combat from a selection of five options, such as tank-busting and bombing runs. The computer then generates a mission for you, and one thing you can be sure of is that not two missions will be the same.

So, the 'game', and I use the term merely to describe a piece of software used as entertainment: be warned, this is no toy, has a lot more variety to it than Falcon. What else is different? What about the handling?

Both Falcon Mission Disk 1 and F-16 claim to be accurate simulations, yet the handling of the craft is incredibly different. In F-16, when you bank the plane, it turns in a way which is totally different to the 'bank-and-pull' method employed in Falcon. With this behind you, the craft is much easier to manoeuvre, thereby giving you a much easier time in combat, which in turn make it a lot more fun for the inexperienced pilot.

You can also do a lot more planning toward a mission. Before each flight you are shown a computerised map that presents you with more information than you could ever require. With this map you can mark computer waypoints, find the enemy, and even draw a Def Leppard Logo!

However, with all these good points, there are bad points. I, for one, did not find it half as challenging, or even as entertaining as Falcon. The strength and AI of the enemy is not half as good in F-16, and you do feel like you are playing against a computer.

The graphics are not anywhere near as good as Falcon. The landscapes are sparse, with an electricity pylon and a mound of dirt here and there. The update is slow, and the use of colour is loud and unconvincing.

F-16 is a very complex title that will no doubt prove rewarding in time. The only problem being that it is not involving enough. Remember, to get anything out of a game, you have to be able to get into it.

Unfortunately, the C64 version is still behind schedule due to problems of squeezing all the data onto one disk. Update upon release.

F-16 Combat Pilot logo Zero Hero

Digital Integration

Dunc: This is the one that came out hot on the heels of Falcon and the inevitable comparisons were drawn, with most critics comind down on the side of the Mirrorsoft/Spectrum Holobyte game. At first I agreed with this - but having played Combat Pilot for a while, now I am not so sure.

The game (sorry, simulation) is very much the same as in Falcon and. You are in charge of an F-16, and you have to select missions and armaments and build up flying hours and 'kills'. It is the implementation that is so different - and, in some respects, rather annoying.

The selection screen is a graphical representation of the Squadron crewroom - and you move a cursor arrow around to choose the options. Clicking on the filing cabinet, for instance, selects the pilots log - where your call-sign, amount of flying hours and number of successful missions are kept. You can call up technical data on this screen (enemy planes, your weapons) as well as go into demo mode. The icon that is going to be clicked on most, however, is the missions icon.

There are six missions in all: air to air, runway destruction, interdictor strike, tank attack, reconnaissance and, finally, Operation Conquest - in which you command an entire squadron of F-16s.

Having chosen a mission, you then progress to the map screen, where you can summon up all kids of crucial information about where you have got to go, what you have got to bomb and how best to get there. From this screen you also have icons which take you to weapons select mode (better than the one in Falcon, with a wider choice of goodies available), and the Met Office, where you can do an accurate check on the weather and suss out the height of the cloud cover - you can even choose a night time scenario, which is incredibly atmospheric. And then it is (hew, about time) ready for take off.

Here is something I HATE about this program. Every single time you start a mission you have to type in a page/paragraph/word code from the manual EVERY SINGLE TIME. Why not just once, at the beginning of the thing?

Anyway, having input the code, you find yourself ready to roll' on the runway. Press the relevant buttons and - whoosh - it is into the skies.

The ground detail is much smaller and rather less detailed than in Falcon (but there is a lot more of it), and the update speed is a fraction slower i.e. a tad more jerky. Also, somehow, things feel harder to operate - the plane is not so responsive. You cannot spin it onto its back and do an inverted loop so easily - instead you seem to run out of height rather quickly and hit the deck (unless you start from 70,000 feet, that is). It is a guess, as I have no way of knowing short of flying a real F-16, but I reckon this is because Combat Pilot is a far more representation of the real thing: in which case it is not a 'fault' at all. Having said this, I will also add that flying in Combat Pilot is not quite as much 'fun' as in Falcon. Part of the trouble is the cockpit views. All you get is the standard left/right/forward/back vistas. I could forgive the lack of an external camera, but the lack of 'look up' mode is something of a pain.

Overall though, apart from all the little niggles and the disk accessing that goes on between games (yes, there are some fair old pauses), there is something absolutely brilliant about this simulation. Do you know what it is? It is depth. Somehow, the game seems immense, and it stands alone on that point. It is quite hard to get into, and takes a while to grip you totally. But once it has, it does not let go.

F-16 Combat Pilot logo Falcon 1... ...Mission Disk 1 logo Zzap! Sizzler

Falcon: Spectrum Holobyte/Mirrorsoft £24.99
Mission Disk One: Spectrum Holobyte/Mirrorsoft £19.99
F-16 Combat Pilot: Digital Integration £24.95

Robin Hogg The General Dynamic F-16 Fighting Falcon is probably the closest thing to Luke Skywalker's X-Wing yet built. A small, low-cost fighter it consists of an advanced airframe wrapped around a powerful jet engine with a bubble-like cockpit perched on top. Relatively simple to fly and maintain it's the world's premier small fighter.
The first F-16 flight sim was Spectrum Holobyte's Falcon which somehow zoomed to the top of Amiga charts without a ZZAP! review. Almost a year later Mission Disk One has been released, radically improving the basic game just in time to fight off Digital Integration'' long-awaited F-16 Combat Pilot.
UK programmers DI have a reputation to match Spectrum Holobyte's, but can they beat the Yanks on a sim of a US jet?


Popular with many European air forces, as well as forming a major part of the USAF's strike force in Europe, it's only appropriate that both sims set themselves in Central Europe. Neither bother with actual town names, and the enemy is unnamed despite using Soviet MiGs... maybe Albania has declared war!

Falcon's scenario pits one air base against a multitude of targets spread across a relatively small area. You can choose any of 12 missions to fly against targets such as bridges, factories, runways, tanks and MiG-21 fighters. The Mission Disk adds tanks, landing craft, trains, ammunition dumps, Mig-29s and twelve more missions. Five skill levels range from 'bounce-off-the-ground' up to Colonel level, where the F-16 is a much more fragile beast. In addition you can choose how many MiGs can be up in the air at one time, up to a maximum of three.

A new feature offered by the Mission Disk is the interlinking of the missions to offer an overall mission. Unlike in the original, where the game effectively restarts once you land (apart from saving any medals to service record), here if you blow up a factory it stays destroyed for several missions. Your ultimate objective is to wipe out the enemy's industrial and attack capabilities, while protecting your base from invasion. This is a big improvement, but you can still change your skill level every time you land, as cheats will be glad to know.

In DI's offering the pilot is assumed to be already competent with flight simulators as even the practice modes can prove very unforgiving. Besides landing and free-flight practice, you can also practice five different missions: Scramble - intercept MiGs, Hammerblow - destroy enemy's air capability, Deepstrike - strike supply and support, Tankbuster - says it all and Watchtower - deep reconnaissance.

When you're adept at these you can go into training mode, setting up a service record. To go on a real mission you must first complete each of the five practice missions, saving to disk each time. If you crash the service record is erased (unless you cheat and reset your computer).

Complete your training and you can select Operation Conquest. Her you take the role of a wartime Squadron Leader and, besides flying your own aircraft, can send four other F-16s on combat missions. Unlike Falcon you don't select mission types by clicking on their names, rather you plan your mission against a target of your choosing via a map screen. This is a lot more realistic and adds a sizeable strategic element.

As in Falcon you can reduce the number of enemy vehicles sent against you by blowing up factories, but there's a lot more factories here so you can't stop tank attacks just by destroying one building, as you can in Falcon. Combat Pilot's map is generally a lot bigger - you'll need to refuel just to travel the length of it. The knock-on effect is superbly done as well, if your SAM (Surface-to-Air-Missiles) sites are knocked out enemy MiGs become more of a problem.


Right, enough of this chat. Let's get up there in the wild, blue yonder. Falcon pilots will be able to take off a lot easier and quicker - a pilot can lift off within a handful of seconds. On the lower levels of the F-16 it is extremely hard to stall and the engine is super-rated allowing for extremely rapid (and ridiculously short) takeoffs. On Colonel level things are very much harder - taking off with a heavy load here takes ages, controls become realistically sluggish and there's red outs as well as black outs.

Frame update is very smooth indeed with good control response and fell. Graphic presentation is generally first class; one of the most impressive parts of Falcon is the external view option. A chase plane can follow the F-16 as it makes attack runs, dogfights with MiGs and dodges missiles. Not all that good for landing the plane, but great for wowing your friends. Then there's the satellite view as well (complete with zoom function).

Sadly, the visual scanning range is incorrectly defined - telegraph poles, roads and the like can all be seen at heights of 80,000 up, in reality this wouldn't be possible.

F-16 Combat Pilot is a much different kettle of fish. While you can look behind you, ore to the right or left, there are no external views in Combat Pilot and graphics are simpler. But there is the LANTIRN system for use in the dark, which amplifies light to provide an eery green area of vision (there is no night flying in Falcon). The principal appeal of the game however, is the depth of play. On your first flight the runway will seem way too short, the flight controls too sluggish and only one life obviously insufficient. DI fans will accept this, claiming it's more realistic (and you can't really argue with that).

In combat Falcon again scores in presentation - the MiGs are awesome, while ground attacks are met with a stereo roar of a missile launch and flight (even if the missiles are a littlw slow) and colourful explosions. Another strong point is the intelligence of the MiGs. MiG-21s aren't too much of a problem on the higher levels, provided you intercept them at a distance and know their limitations. But all your hard earned tactical experience is thrown out of the window when you tackle MiG-29s. Not only are they incredibly adept at close quarter manoeuvres but also extremely accurate with Cannon fire.

Combat Pilot ground attacks are met with a dull roar and speedily accelerating missiles. Cannon fire is precise, unlike Falcon. Randomly placed pylons, trees and bushes missing from Falcon appear here to good effect. Flying over enemy installations with flak bursting all around is pretty hair raising (much more so than in Falcon) even if the installations are few and far between. Variety is present within the multitude of different targets but they don't look quite as good as those in Falcon.

Another dubious point is the game's realism when it comes to surface-to-air missiles. If you're detected by radar then you're in for a hard fight as the missiles that follow very rarely miss. If you can see a missile coming you're effectively dead, it's THAT tough! Air-to-air missiles are no less tough, making it extremely hard for you get close to a MiG.


Falcon's principal strengths are superb graphic presentation and large number of skill levels. You really do believe you're there fighting for your life, and the rookie level means even arcade fans can have fun. The Mission Disk not only adds more opponents, but a vital overall task which you can keep saving and loading over a couple of weeks. On the debit side this boosts the overall price of Falcon to £45.

At £25 Combat Pilot lacks graphic polish, but makes up for it with a depth to rival Elite. Before you can even get into real combat, there's the five training missions to complete. Then there's the strategy of not only planning your own missions, complete with electronic waypoints to keep you on course, but planning the missions of four other F-16s. The size of the map, and your enemy's capabilities are formidable and if you complete it your rank goes up and the enemy attack again. There's also a head-to-head air combat facility if you've two Amigas to link together. Flight sim fans will love this game, but others might find it a bit tough to begin with.

Both programs are undoubtedly very worthy Sizzlers. As for the Mission Disk it provides a significant addition to the basic game which fans of the original mission can't miss. A sizzler too in fact, albeit overpriced.