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F-14 Tomcat Package Art
††Virtucraft Ltd.
††Majesco Inc.

F-14 Tomcat

When games of adventure, racing, puzzles, and story run strong, there will always be games like F-14 Tomcat: an attempt at realism while keeping action frequent and familiar. While it may look like a sim, itís an action game through and through-- and not a bad one at that.


A bit of a mixed bag, but visuals are overall pretty good. The only real problem I have is that while they spent a great deal of time on the detail of objects to make them look as realistic as possible, the focus shouldíve been on the fluidity of the animations. Iím getting ahead of myself, however.

When the game is first turned on, a few ads pass and a highly detailed fighter will move onto the screen. And while it looks great, it has about three frames of animation to bank off the screen. Another example is when you begin to take off; youíll be on an aircraft carrier, and a small guy will be waving to signal that itís ok to take off. Then heíll run off screen with only a few frames of animation. You take off, and as your ship ascends, the pilot will look back and see his carrier slowly disappear behind him. His turning around has two or three frames. As you approach some enemy fighters, the same problem shows itself, though it's not as bad as earlier. Itís a repeating problem: when you see an enemy fighter explode Ė- nice explosion, but not many frames of detail. At least this game takes on a crystal clear framerate.

Your cockpit is loaded with detail (hey, the control stick even moves!), though, and for when it does move (shaking under engine pressure), it does have the required frames. But youíll find the prettiest and most useful tool in your cockpit is the small screen in front of you. It has a radar with three differently distanced screens, and a little replay option to show what you just did. When you hit a fighter with a missile, that the MiG really got what was coming to him. Or maybe when you blow up a sub with a cruise missile, for example, you get to see it really got blown away. It also has a status screen that doesnít really mean anything -- itís just a nice addition. It holds information like what altitude youíre at, your engine percentage (which can hit 210% for some reason), and things like that. Again, not useful, but nice to have.

My biggest problem with this titleís looks, though, is that all the games look exactly the same. Wanna know why? Itís because save some changing colors, they are the same. You have a sea, and some sky, and thatís about it. The engine wasnít capable of handling actual three-dimensional figures, so you canít fly over land. Also unfortunately, when you get close to the sea, the only thing thatíll let you know is your altitude, and some warning buzzer. It all looks the same.


Definitely not the greatest in the world, but it wonít bother you too much. The in-game music isnít very good, per se, but it gets the job done. Thereís a track for the title/briefing screens, but itís long enough for either a fast reader, or for you to skim through your briefing (which you begin to do after a while), because itíll repeat, and itís not really made to do that smoothly.

Sound effects are good -- in general, and in game. Your machine gun has a nice rat-a-tat sound; It gives the feeling that youíre shooting down the MiG in front of you, or whatever may try to send you into the sea below. You also have a variety of missiles, but they all sound the same when you launch them. Let's not forget that thereís a small exploding sound when a fighter explodes.


Get ready to write down 8 random characters, because you wonít find battery saving in this game. Just to get that out of the way.

The controls may take a while to get used to, but the game gives you time enough to learn the basics and guess the rest. It gives you all the controls at once and expects you to remember them all. If thereís one thing I hate, itís that I had to go to the instruction manual to get some of the controls down. The first mission is specifically designed to let you practice, and get the hang of the controls (if you remember them all). After a couple of missions, you should have them down pretty well.

As I mentioned earlier, this game aims for realism, so your jet will have these weird things attached to it called momentum, inertia and a few others. Thatís really all there is to say for the controls.

Unfortunately, like I said, the gameís engine wasnít designed to have actual 3D objects, so thereís no over-land missions -- it all takes place in the South China Sea. All the levels are the same with varying numbers of enemies. Itís good for a little while, but the gameplay just gets repetitious after a short amount of time.

There are 16 missions, and three different difficulties, which change the enemy AI, armor amount, and so on.


Thereís a four-player mode, but thatís really the only thing to do after a while; all the missions feel just like the one before it. You need multiple carts, which I would say isnít worth the 0 between the four of you.


Iím taking points off for the lack of frames of animation, repetition, and no battery save, but mainly the last two. Itís still a good game, Iíd say, just not for everyone. If youíre an Air Force junkie, then youíll probably want to give this game a go, but for everyone else, rent it first. If you get hooked, you may even beat it while you have it. If you still want to play after that, lucky you! Thereís password save!

final score Action/10

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Staff Avatar Schuyler Lystad
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"These toys are too much for you. Return them to me."

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