Fighter Duel

Moby ID: 4893

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 56% (based on 8 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 4 ratings with 1 reviews)

A stripped down, high performance machine designed for air combat without frills.

The Good
First of all, Fighter Duel for the PC is not a port of the Amiga game. Although both were developed by Jaeger Software, the Amiga game predated the PC game by several years and is a very different game.

Fighter Duel’s focus was, as its name stated, on duelling. In its initial release, that meant head to head combat between two players. With the “net duel” patch that was available for download a few months after the initial release, combat could include up to 16 players on a local area network. With programs such as Kali, which emulated a LAN connection on the internet, that meant 9 players from around the world could battle each other.

For its day, Fighter Duel’s flight model was the best of any flight simulation. It really captured the feeling of flight. Fighter Duel was also one of the first games to utilize force feedback technology in joysticks, which further added to the realism. Fire the guns, and your joystick kicked. Take damage, and you felt it.

The game featured 16 planes, which were accurately modelled with their individual flight characteristics. This meant that you had to know both your aircraft’s capabilities as well as your enemies’ capabilities. A Corsair pilot would be foolish to try and engage in a turning battle with a Zero. On the other hand, a Corsair pilot with a height advantage could execute a “boom and zoom”, jumping a Zero from above, and speeding off with little danger of being caught, because of the more powerful engine in the F4U. If you’re flying a Spitfire against an FW-190, don’t be drawn into a fight on the vertical plane, because of the FW-190’s superior performance when climbing.

Fighter Duel was the first game I ever played that emphasized the importance of the vertical plane in air combat. Previous games for the PC, such as Aces of the Pacific or Their Finest Hour, always seemed to degenerate into turning battles, with planes trying to out-bank each other. Playing Fighter Duel, on the other hand, felt you like had a truly expansive sky stretching around you in all directions.

Although Fighter Duel was definitely designed with multiplayer in mind, the computer AI that was provided for single player play was also the best of its day. Again I have to mention the vertical plane, because the computer’s AI would utilize it while fighting against you.

Although the only single player games were air combat oriented (i.e., there were no ground attack missions), you could set up the battle in many different ways. Want to fly a Hellcat against three FW-190s and two BF-109s? How about jumping those planes in a boom and zoom and seeing if you could get away before they nailed you?

The graphics were clean and sparse. You had either an overcast sky or a clear blue sky with no in-between. The wide blue Pacific stretched below you, with very few islands to fly over. An aircraft carrier sat on the ocean. Overall, I liked the graphics because they were super sharp, allowing you to quickly scan for other aircraft without many distractions. The instrument panel was the most realistic of any game I’ve ever seen to this date.

The Bad
First of all, what’s with the purple sky? I never really understood that. The ocean was such a beautiful textured deep blue - couldn’t the sky have been treated with a little more care?

A mission editor would have given the game some more life. I would have loved to recreate some historical air combat battles and save them to disk for future play or to share with other players, but it was not possible.

The Bottom Line
One of the most realistic air combat games ever developed for the PC, both in the flight model used and in the individual characteristics of the planes involved. Although designed primarily for multiplayer play, the game stands tall in single player action as well.

DOS · by Les Nessman (265) · 2005

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Jeanne, Scaryfun, Patrick Bregger, Wizo, Alsy.