The Complete Guide to Computer Aviation
by Steve Smith
KONAMI'S AIR WARRIOR
Firing up a piston-engined fighter in Air Warrior is proof positive that it's possible to have great sound effects in a sim. The engine belches, coughs, and finally roars to life so realistically that you expect to see blue exhaust smoke and smell avgas fumes wafting from your computer.
Unfortunately, that's the best thing about Air Warrior. This is the stand-alone version (published by Konami) of the game of the same name that's been available for some time on the GEnie BBS (Bulletin Board Service) for on-line play (see Chapter Fourteen).
The stand-alone version isn't as complete. You do get the ever-popular P-51 Mustang, the P-38 Lightning, the F4U Corsair, the Spitfire Mk. IX, the Messerschmitt Bf-109, the Focke-Wulf FW-190, the Ki-84 Frank, the A6M Zero, and the B-26 Invader, but if you want to get aircraft like the Messerschmitt Me-262, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-25 Mitchell, the DeHavilland Mosquito, or the Junkers Ju-88 (not to mention juicy ground targets like Soviet T-34 and German Mk. IV tanks), you have to go on-line and download the files from the BBS.
In every other respect the stand-alone version of the game is identical with the one you can download from GEnie.
When you connect with GEnie, you're wired into the gunsights of some of the fiercest desktop warriors who ever took to the virtual blue yonder. You're lucky if you can last more than a few minutes playing with some of these on-line hustlers. It's like wandering into a waterfront pool hall and asking if anybody plays billiards.
On the other hand, in the stand-alone version, you're up against the most lackadaisical enemy intelligence this side of H. G. Wells' selenites in The First Men on the Moon. Your would-be opponents will make a desultory effort to fly away from you, but if you gain on them, they won't try to shake you off.
Clearly, what this version of Air Warrior is intended to do is train you in BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvers) before you go on-line, and—except for the lack of any serious opposition—it does just that. Also, this version allows you to connect modem-to-modem (although, curiously, not directly machine-to-machine), without going through GEnie.
Visually, the game is quite odd. The 3-D view of the cockpit above the instrument panel doesn't run the full width of the computer screen—so you're confined to squinting at a postcard-size image in the middle of your VDT. Fortunately, this image is Super VGA, so if you've got an SVGA video card and monitor, you can see the world outside clearly, even if as through the wrong end of a telescope. If you don't have SVGA, forget it.
The other great thing Air Warrior does is simulate not merely stalls (which most all simulations do), but also spins, which are terrifying. Your plane shudders to a halt in midair (the on-screen image shakes mightily here), then snaps nosedown and plummets, twirling like a leaf. If you haven't disabled the link between the ailerons and the rudder (rudder pedals are supported), you cannot pull out of the spin. Time to hit the silk.
Oh, yes—the other great sound effect comes when, as, and if you bail out: a blood curdling "Yeeeee-AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!"