The Complete Guide to Computer Aviation
by Steve Smith
UP, UP, AND AWAY
AV-8B is not merely a flight sim, but also a kind of computer sim called a war game, which is like a board game: you, as commander, manage the whole battle. The scenario in AV-8B is a little farfetched, though: East Timor, which has been occupied by Indonesia for twenty years, is in turmoil. You command a small Marine detachment aboard the assault ship Tarawa. You rush in to help the Communist rebels (not, curiously, the Indonesian government, our legal ally, according to the SEATO pact). Whichever side first occupies 70 percent of the island wins.
You can't switch sides but you can switch back and forth from the war game mode to the flight simulation as the scenario unfolds in real time. You first fly reconnaissance and ground-support missions, then you tangle with Indonesian A-4D Skyhawks (the same opponents that the British handily vanquished in the Falklands), and finally with the far tougher Indonesian F-16 Falcons. All your missions are solo.
In Jump Jet your missions are also solo, but your theaters are Hong Kong, 1996 (war breaks out over returning the city-state to Chinese control); the Falklands, 1997 (another turf battle; unlike Gunship 2000's version, this battle takes place in the South Atlantic, not Antarctica); and Nordkapp, 1998 (a resurgent Russian military regime attacks Norway's North Cape—that is, the Cold War Redux).
Jump Jet is structured in the classic MicroProse manner: you start in the "Ready Room," progress to the "Briefing Room," choose your weapons from the "Arming Screen," etc. What's different about Jump Jet is much improved scenery graphics. Although objects on the ground aren't particularly well defined, you certainly get a three-dimensional sense of topography. A bustling cosmopolis like Hong Kong doesn't score as well as the urban scenery in Strike Commander (see Chapter Five), but the Falklands, with their barren plains, bleak mountains, and rocky beaches, fare better. And the "whiteouts" of the North Cape, like Gunship 2000's Antarctica, are easy to simulate.
Jump Jet is not especially easy to learn—I counted eighty-eight separate keyboard commands—and neither it nor AV-8B is exactly a ball to play, but if your flight sim life just isn't complete without V/STOL experience, you might want to try one.