Written by  :  Stephen M (24)
Written on  :  Jul 24, 2006
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Possibly the best multiplayer option ever!

The Good

Besides the obvious thrill of bombing with pin-point precision (well, almost) from a safe 25,000 feet, or dodging SA-Ms and MiGs while letting a barrage of clusters loose on an unsuspecting target, there existed one other important reason to own this game: multiplayer with a difference. This was at the time the only game that allowed two players to fly in the same aircraft!

You are on your own out there, avoiding SA-Ms, AA fire and MiGs while on your bombing run. Get out there, flatten your target(s), and fly home. Simple? Not this time...

I have read that real F15 missions often consisted of flying in above the range of SA-Ms (around 25,000 feet), letting your laser-guided bombs make their lazy way to their targets, and hotfoot it back home. I had other ideas. My typical mission was more like a stealth mission (probably due to my experience in F117-A Stealth Fighter). I'd fly in under the radar, pop up at the target for my bombing run, move on to the secondary, and fly home. It made for very exciting bomb runs, what with flak-dodging and MiGs suddenly appearing from the closest airbase - giving me something to do after the bomb run!

The most fun one could have in a simulation had to be while flying the same aircraft with another human pilot. I did this regularly - and we excelled. No plane, AA-gunner, or any other AI-controlled hostile could touch us. The feeling of accomplishment upon touching down after such a mission (which for me generally meant I was in the back seat) was much more than I would get after completing the same mission on my own.

Realism - as far as I was concerned when I played this game back on my 486, the flying, from take-off to landing, was real enough. Landing in particular, while not being overly difficult, led to more than a few hair-raising moments! You could also choose to have "realistic" MFDs, resulting in less information being fed to you.

The Iraqi add-on (included on the CD-ROM version) was my favourite playground - and the oceanic oil spills and perpetually burning rigs dotting the desert landscape on the ground added to the realism of the game.

The Bad

At the time this game was released, the graphics were hot, the action hotter, and I could use my Thrustmaster HOTAS/WCS combo with it. I had no problems with this game.

The Bottom Line

Building on the success of the previous 2 releases, MicroProse went all out on this one. Fantastic graphics, an immersive soundtrack and the option to fly either against a human opponent, co-operate with 2 planes, or a unique option: fly with a human co-pilot in a front seat/back seat combination.

I no longer have a copy of the game (I left it with my friend), but I often find myself thinking back and longing to pop into the back seat of the F15 "Strike Eagle". This has to be my all-time favourite combat sim.