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ATF

1988
Simulation
£8.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

44
Jonathan Davies
Chris Bourne

It's so well camouflaged, it takes the pilot three hours to find it every morning! it's so secret, even the Americans don't know it exists, and they built it! But DI do, and they've chosen it as the subject of their latest wacko simulation - Advanced Tactical Fighter.

As usual, you're the pilot and it's your job to make sure We win and They don't. The battle is taking place on a global scale, and you can whizz around the continents wiping out the enemy's positions, so your guys can move in and take over. Major targets include factories, land and sea forces and bases, all of which affect Their performance.

For a change, in ATF you actually see your plane on the screen in front of you, skimming along, twelve pixels off the ground. The 3D landscape scrolls past at an enormous speed, and you'll be grateful for the terrain-following radar which should prevent any arguments with hills.

The hardware at your disposal consists of the normal machine gun and two types of missile, one automatically guided by your on-board computer. As well as coping with the hosts of enemy interceptors which swarm around you, you'll also have to deal with SAMs, which luckily are easily jammed.

Even if you've been bored with flight alms in the past, ATF may well be worth a look. Flying controls are minimal, leaving your hands free for downing baddies and generally enjoying the flight. There is even a choice of skill levels for real namby pambies, and landing's automatic too. What more could you ask for?

However, all good things must come to an end, (even this review eventually!) and if you don't watch out, you'll find your aircraft getting more and more knackered as the bullets and missiles pile into it. Sooner or later it gives up the ghost completely and you're just another statistic. (Moving, huh?)

The only real snag with this one is that it all gets a bit samey after a while. Fortunately you can then move up a gear, as ATF, unusually for this sort of game, also has a distinct strategy feel - with the 8 billion page manual to boot (Oi! Shouldn't we be doing this one then? O & A). There's a massive task ahead of you, and the incentive to finish it should keep you going for some time.

A year of design and programming has gone into ATF, and it shows. If not quite as revolutionary as previous DI efforts, it's still a worthy release.

An interesting hybrid of blast 'em up and strategy game masquerading as a flight simulation, with fine and fast graphics.

8/10
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