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by Talonsoft

jf4_2.jpg (3984 bytes)Dawn breaks over a lone carrier somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Crewmembers frantically scramble to ready the ship’s arsenal of fighters.  The unthinkable has happened--the United States of America is under attack.

Every hardcore flight sim fan is familiar with the Jetfighter series.  I remember when Jetfighter hit the market (back when 486’s were HOT).  It was just about the coolest thing I had ever seen--like playing Top Gun.  Well, it’s back, and it's better then ever.  Don't get me wrong, Jetfighter IV isn't Falcon 4.0--and whether you think that's a good thing or a bad thing will pretty much determine how you feel about the game. Though both games are visual stunners, Jetfighter IV is not the ultrarealistic sim that Falcon was. Even so, it has a much better flight model than most arcade sims, and best of all it's got fun breakneck gameplay. So grab your Top Gun soundtrack, joystick, and a comfy chair, because Jetfighter IV will keep you at the computer for a while. 

jf4-screen7-01.jpg (6292 bytes)In Jetfighter IV: Fortress America a Russian Coalition has launched an attack against the United States. All communications and spy satellites are down, and they are about to park a SuperCarrier off the West Coast.  All you have to do send them packing--and make sure there's something to come home to when you’re finished.

Being the best of the best means you have access to some of the most renowned killing machines around.  You can pilot the F-14 Tomcat, F/A-18 Hornet, or the F-22 Raptor.  After choosing your aircraft you'll need to select a healthy amount of destructive hardware.  Since you need to defend against land, sea, and air attack you'll find a wide range of ordnance from which to choose.  Be sure you read up on the mission objectives before you outfit your fighter.  Of course, if you don’t like to read you can just sit back and relax, because all of the missions have audio briefings that fill you in about the mission at hand.

jf4-screen12-01.jpg (6186 bytes)Single player missions are well laid out and will definitely test your skills as a pilot.  Things start out easy enough.  For starters you'll be given some free flight time and some practice targets to take out, but soon enough you'll be bombing bases and leading strikes against patrolling MiG-44s.  Watch out, though.  The computer AI has come a LONG way since the early days.  Getting shot down on the early versions of Jetfighter was a rarity.  More often then not I was killed because I was trying to buzz skyscrapers or land on top of a building.  Not anymore.  Whenever hostiles are encountered they come out guns (and missiles) blazing.

The geographic area that you fly over is truly immense; you'll be fighting over 40,000 square miles of photo-textured terrain.  This is why the game comes with two disks.  The first contains the game and everything you need to play and requires just over 600mb of drive space.  The second disk adds almost 700mb of more detailed terrain.  In fact, If you live along the West Coast you might be able to fly over your favorite shopping center and protect it from Russian attack.  The terrain is extremely realistic, you can be certain of that. After all, it's taken from 150 Gigabytes of government satellite images--and who knows more about US terrain then the U.S. Government?

jf4_1.jpg (3713 bytes)And what better complements stunning visuals than killer audio?  In Jetfighter IV, the screaming, thunderous force of a F-14 being hurled through the air from an aircraft carrier is like music to these ears.  Explosions, gunfire, exploding bombs and missiles ring out as the battle for America rages.  Even the cockpit is alive with audio.  Wingmen chatter on the radio and your craft will beep and blare as enemy pilots attempt to lock on and bring your fighting days to a close.

To keep things lively, you can abandon the campaign mode and use the mission generator for unlimited action without fooling around with missions that you may not care for.  And of course there's no better way to keep boredom at bay then by blowing your friends out of the sky in multiplayer.  Unfortunately, at the time of this review I was never able to find anyone else playing online.  Using the in game browser never turned up any servers, though you can play over the Internet or via LAN with up to 16 players.

jf4_3.jpg (3711 bytes)Of course, games this beautiful require some hefty peripherals to get the most out of them.  You'll need a fast computer and a tuff video card to get the most out of the game, and for a truly pimpin' experience I'd recommend a nice set of surround speakers, a big monitor, and a good force-feedback joystick really.  Of course you don't need these, but if you do Jetfighter IV will take advantage of them.

Jetfighter IV is a fun, good-lookin'  flight sim that may not be for hardcore simmers,  but has something for just about everyone else. High system requirements and a puzzling lack of online support keep this out of five-star territory, if you're looking for an action-packed jet sim that straddles the line between arcadey and ultrarealistic, this one's for you.

Ben Moore


Ups: Excellent gameplay, beautiful graphics, somewhat realistic flight models.

Downs: Hefty system requirements, no online support.

System Reqs: Recommended System: 400MHz + 3d accelerator w/ 16mb RAM, 64 MB RAM, Joystick


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