Fighter Duel

12Don’t expect much in the way of strategy in Fighter Duel. There’s no campaign here, no tours of duty, no war, and no promotions. But Fighter Duel’s pure and simple dogfighting makes it shine. You get 13 planes, all of them vintage fighters: the P-51D Mustang, the F6F Hellcat, four versions of the British Spitfire, two Corsairs, the FW-190, a couple of versions of the Me-109, and the Japanese Zero. With all the realism options switched on, these planes require skill to keep them in the air. In fact, they fly a bit like tanks, and I was constantly guarding against stalls.

The texture-mapped, 640×480 graphics are superb all things considered, and the designers have managed to build in enough options and automatic graphics adjustments to provide an outstanding frame rate, even on a 486 machine. Because the focus is on what happens in the air, you’ll see nothing below but a tiny island and a ship or two. That lack of ground detail helps maintain a high frame rate for what really counts — blasting your rivals out of the sky.

The planes themselves are gorgeous, and they blow up real good. The explosions are spectacular, with planes breaking apart in tremendous fireballs. The view is just as good from inside the cockpit, with tracers bending away from your angle of attack just the way they do in real WWII gun-camera footage. Despite all of this, Fighter Duel is disappointing as a solo game. At the lower skill settings, the computer planes just don’t seem to want to fight. I found myself spending most of my air time trying to chase down the bogeys. At the highest settings, they’re aggressive enough, but they don’t seem to work together as a team. Once you get an enemy in your sights, though, his plane will explode with just a few hits.

System Requirements:486/33 MHz CPU, 4 MB RAM, DOS

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