Strike Fighters: Project 1
It takes more than Cold War nostalgia to keep this sim flying.
Set in the 1960s at a time when missile technology was still in its developing stages, Strike Fighters hands you control of four legendary US aircraft from that period – the F-100 Super Sabre, F-4 Phantom II, A-4 Skyhawk and F-104 Starfighter, covering a variety of air superiority and ground attack roles. The aircraft models are beautiful inside and out, with accurate color schemes and insignia, fantastic 3D cockpits and fully working instrumentation. You’ll face the bulk of the Soviet war machine – expect the MiG-17, MiG-19, MiG-21, Su-7, Tu-22 supersonic bomber and An-12 transport plane.
The only real problem is the lack of a historically accurate conflict bringing all of these planes together, instead resorting to a fictitious campaign set over the Middle East. It’s a shame, really, as most of the planes would have been perfect for a Vietnam setting. The campaign that is provided does randomize certain aspects to give it some replayability, and the addition of a customizable quick mission mode that lets you engage in anything from escort to bombing missions and recon – as well as a no-nonsense Instant Action mode – means that there’s plenty of combat to go around.
But unfortunately none of it is very stable, or at least not on the unpatched version. A litter of bugs creep in, the most egregious of which is a lack of ground targeting labels and buggy impact physics. Many of these mistakes were fixed by version 12.25.03, but the only real finished aspects of the game include air-to-air combat, the flight modelling and most of the graphics (there’s only a desert setting available when clearly there was meant to be more). The game is also quite complex, so unless you’re already well versed in these sort of games then don’t bother. The manual only casually brushes over vital information like combat tactics and missile avoidance.
Some might feel apprehension surrounding Strike Fighters, but it’s only as bad as the first release. Later bug fixes resulted in a more stable product that was actually enjoyable, provided of course you’re patient enough to learn its intricacies. But it could have been so much more if it wasn’t forced out the door.
System Requirements: PII 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 500 MB HDD, Win 95/98/2K/ME/XP