By: Pseudo Nim
You know, it's interesting to watch the progress of a game
developer. There are fortunate exceptions, but the usual trend
goes so: first, the developer puts out a game which attracts
attention. Their name becomes known, they become popular.
They continue putting out games, either based on the previous one
or new ones. Then, at some point, boom! They put out a game
based either on the NAME of their first game, or based on the fact
that 'They know our name, they'll buy the game'. As you might
guess, that last one usually is complete, utter crap. Case at point:
the sixteen Command & Conquer spinoffs, including Sole Survivor,
which I still can't understand why it came out. Maybe it was the
pre-alpha Command & Conquer, with no units or buildings, that
they figured they could cash in on. Anyway, this time the gavel of
judgement falls for EA's Fighter Pilot. What is the
judgement, you may ask? You'll be right to. This game sucks.
Badly. This is exactly what I was talking about: I'm almost willing
to bet it was put out either a) because EA thought their name
would get the game sold (sure as hell worked for me) or b) it was a
project some programmer of theirs wrote while he was in
maniacal depression over a Quake loss, and they figured, if
Plane Crazy sold, then damn, this has to.
Either way, they had no right to put it out. Then again, what is
right? Let's not get into stylistics here. In this case, 'right' is what
the consumer wants - basics of supply and demand. Thing is, the
consumer doesn't really know what he wants, and, like most of
today's items, the brand usually determines the choice. Stop!
Teach them a lesson! Hmm, I'm getting into propaganda here.
The gameplay in this game is sad. I mean, you fly a plane. But
that's pretty much it. The physics feel similar to the early Wing
Commanders. Thing is, Wing Commanders were always in space,
so they never had to deal with lift, stalling, and elementary plane
dynamics. What is 'realistic' in space is pretty disputable
considering our current level of technology. What's realistic on the
ground is not really disputable, considering, again, the same level
of technology, as well as pure common sense. I was able to stall
my plane ONCE. And heck, I think it only happened because I hit
the sky. (I mean that, by the way.) Immelmans are easier to do in
this game than with your own hand. There's a computer voice to
let you know you're too close to the ground, too. Listen to it. It's
telling the truth. But feel free to ignore it, since hitting the ground
does nothing. Or did I pass over it at five centimeters altitude?
Shouldn't have. That maneuver that I did should not have
generated any lift to get me out of it, I should've crashed. The
Hand of God must've helped me.
A few interesting facts. I suppose EA knew this game is for
people who couldn't care less what a missile does, so long as it
hits the bad Commies. Sidewinders are active at 3.3 kilometers. I
mean, that's, like, whoa. Like, whoa. Like, whoa. F-19: Stealth
Fighter, back in 1992, billed Sidewinders as active at 16
kilometers. I've seen all sorts of numbers ranging from 16 to 30 km
on the average. But THREE? Guns work at 1.4 and less. I'm too
exhausted to complain.
The visuals in the game are halfass decent. The plane detail is
bearable (I wonder if they used that publicly available .3DS model
of the F-18 Hornet off the Web - I should compare. No wait, I'm
never running this game again.) The Migs and the Su's look okay
too, though I thought at close range not only did they look the
same, but the Mig-25 looked an awful lot like the Tornado. Maybe I
was blind. Maybe they couldn't find a freebie model of the Mig-25.
I don't know. Another neat thing: I'm sure they wanted to show off
particle effects, so when you shoot down a plane, be that with a
missile or cannon, they keep flying. If two planes flew in formation
before you shot one, they still will. I tried to capture that
unforgettable memento in one of the shots. Look at it, pity it. More
so, the 'particle' effects feel more like a black band with an
animated black cloud texture. 3D? Pfft. Don't speak Muwambanese
The voice effects are pretty good. In the sense that they're far from
bad. Meaning they don't use 4 KHz, 4bit mono sound. Sounds
pretty FM-quality to me. Otherwise, I don't think it can get any
worse. The cheesy speech is annoying (beat this phrase: 'What do
they have, monkeys flying those planes?'). Hi there, a skilled Mig
pilot won't fly straight staring into the rounds of cannons flying at
him! Interesting thought. Maybe this is a scientific study and this
game in fact utilizes a patented, revolutionary Monki-Matix fuzzy,
furry logic AI based on studies of two opposite-sex baboons over a
two-year period? Judging how 'Banana! Monkey eat banana!'
might transmigrate into piloting skills? But then, why are there no
monkeys in the cockpits eating bananas? Either way, I could
probably write a better AI as a batch file. Mine would be really
bad, but hey, mathematically, any positive integer is greater than
zero, right? My point.
I'm not biased. There are some good things in this game.
For one, there seems to be a storyline. The pilot who you play is
avenging the death of his father, picked the same nickname as his
father, which, originally and living-on-the-edgingly is 'Cobra'.
*snore* "What?! Where was I? Oh yeah, so then back in the
summer of '41, we all dressed up as girls to dance at the Nazi bar
in ..." Remind you of anything? Should. [If it still doesn't, that was
from The Simpsons.]
Sort of neat, actually. When I went into the Options menu, I sort of
wondered, why is it so that there are no settings for control keys in
it? I thought, 'Hmm, a flight sim - that means I'll have to push lots of
buttons and see what they all do.' I can still feel the sharp pain in
my brain when I clicked on Start Mission and saw the so-called
3rd-person view. It sort of hit me then what kind of game this was.
Perhaps the 'Current Weapon: Sidewinder' (of which I had
twenty-four - does a Stratofortress carry that much?). or
maybe it was the Armor gauge that had all the colors of the
rainbow? Or could it be the blinking SHOOT NOW! indicator? Oh, I
know what it was. It was probably the screen after the mission,
which summed up how many points I scored and what my Bonus
Did someone say multiplayer? Hah. It has it, true. But if you can
find a friend to play it with, don't consider him a friend anymore.
Or he won't consider you a friend anymore. There are very few
games who are completely worthless in single player and yet an
absolute blast in multi - and, for some reason, they are all
first-person shooters. This is not an exception, and please, don't
force yourself to check it out. You might get a severe
Whatever the case, Fighter Pilot is bad. Really bad. In fact,
it is so mindbogglingly, humongously bad that it'd take me a whole
page written in neat italic type to describe just how bad it is.
(Hey, and I thought iF/A-18 CSF
was bad. Almost makes me want to raise its score a bit.)
Highs: not really - ceiling's sort of limited. Oh, game highs? Um.
You can shoot stuff and not get arrested. You get points too. I like
points. They make me feel better than I am. Did I wander off-topic
again? Oh yeah, you get lots of missiles you can fire off, too.
Lows: eval(Realism.Level.Value) = 0; Challenge = none. Fun =
none. Missions are so unvaried it makes me think it's stuck in a
loop. Kill plane. Score point. Kill building. Scream woohoo. Score
two points. End mission. Get bonus.
Bottomline: This game sucks. If you need a game where you can
'shoot stuff and not get arrested', play G-Police. It was challenging,
the graphics rocked, and at least the missiles looked different. Run
from this game like you'd run from another Clinton-Lewinski
Fun Factor: 8/20