previews\ Aug 28, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Jetfighter 5

Live to fly, fly well to live - those might very well be the bywords of jetfighter pilots the world over. But when the skies are filled with deadly foes, those words can take on an added meaning.

Jetfighter 5: Homeland Protector, the pending PC release from Global Star Software (it has an October release date) place players squarely on the front aerial like of defense against some of the top aircraft in the world. But not to worry - the player has some pretty good hardware to use as well.

Global Star invited GameZone to strap in for an early build of the game, and while this program still has some work left before the release, enough was there to get a solid feel for the program.

First, it must be noted, that if there was a manual with this game, it was not accessible through the downloaded material. Therefore it was necessary to guess at the controls. However, much to its credit, Global Star has really made this combat flight sim accessible to players. The control elements (a Saitek Cyborg evo stick) were all joystick contained and very simple to use.

To backtrack, the storyline of Jetfighter 5 has the United States under attack from a Sino-Russian coalition fronted by a SuperCarrier that is launching MiG-42s, MiG-44s and a newer plane known as the S-37. However the U.S. forces are prepared to counter with the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 Raptor.

The goal is simple: stop the enemy from getting a foothold on the West Coast.

Game features include more than 40,000 square miles of photo-textured terrain, four times the territory of Jetfighter 3 and more than 180 different objects that can be destroyed during the course of the aerial battle. But don’t think this is simply a game where you are using the three-dimensional unobstructed zone of the wild blue yonder. Jetfighter 5 allows players to take the action down almost to the deck, as you pass beneath bridges, or dodge power line towers. Real cities, such as San Francisco and Oakland make appearances in this game.

The preview download was a multiplayer test, but hooking up with people online was a hit-or-miss situation, mostly miss. But the game did have 5 scenarios available, and in each there was the option to set the number of enemies faced and how many waves they would attack in, as well as the number of friendlies.

Once the Raptor was picked up as the plane, it was time to arm it for battle. In addition to its gun, players can also choose the type of missile to put on the fighter - which includes sidewinders, mavericks, the AIM-120 Amraam and MK-82 Bomb. You can pick and arm your plane for the particular battle you are participating in.

There were no take-offs or landings required. Once a scenario was picked, the action was loaded and players were in the cockpit of these deadly aerial fighters, screaming along, looking for a fight.

The radar allowed the identification of enemy forces. Camera angles allow players to look around the cockpit and the hat on the joystick enable a panoramic view from the pilot’s seat. It was also easy to toggle between the pilot’s vantage point and an exterior angle to watch the plane.

Graphically the exterior shots revealed the detailing in the plane. This game was much more fun to look at from outside than in, though when it comes to the fighting, you had better be looking through the Heads-Up Display.

The missiles leave the rail and the passage is marked by a satisfying vapor trail.

The music in load scenes was very well done, and the sound effects, particularly the roar of the jets, added to the realism.

If anything detracted from that, it would be the ease of the control elements - but that is definitely not a bad thing.

This game has challenge, but that challenge lays in the combat and the enemies encountered in the skies, not in trying to learn how to fly the plane.

The version viewed was an early build, but from that glimpse it would appear Jetfighter 5 is taking off for combat-laden action over all-too familiar terrain.

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