Tornado (AGA)



Title          Tornado (AGA) (OCS version also released)
Game Type      Flight Sim
Players        1 (2 via serial link)
Compatibility  All/AGA only (turn off data caches on 060`s)
Submission     chris@tornado.pair.com

Review
As I am not a Tornado pilot in real life, I cannot comment on the
accuracy of the simulation. Digital Integration, however, have worked
closely with the Royal Air Force in creating this program, and it
certainly seems to be as accurate as the Amiga (and secrecy
restrictions) will allow.  Unlike other flight simulators I have
seen, Tornado's cockpit layouts are very accurate compared to
photographs of Tornado cockpits, and the handling of the simulated
aircraft seems right when payload and other factors are considered.
This is certainly NOT an "arcade" flight simulator.

For those of you who have seen/played/read about the PC version of
Tornado, here are a few words. First the good news. The graphics are
identical, which means 256 colours in the 3D sections and 256-colour
digitised backdrops in the menu screens.  The bad news is that the
Mission Planner and Command sections have been removed. This means it
is impossible to alter the preset missions or create entirely new
missions. This is a serious omission, and one that I cannot
understand, especially in the AGA version, which by default is going
to be running on a more powerful minimum hardware setup than the OCS
version...

In isolation from the PC version, and comparing it to other Amiga
flight simulators, Tornado stands up very well. Note that it is a
FLIGHT simulator and can be used entirely for non-combat flying if
desired.  The aircraft model used seems to be very detailed, with
flaps, wing sweep angle, airbrakes and so on having the expected
effect. It is even possible to get into a spin, something I have not
seen on other Amiga military flight simulators.

The simulation features three basic play modes. The first is
simulation mode, whereby the program simulates a Tornado simulator.
Thus your in-sim character cannot be injured should anything happen,
and this is an excellent way to learn how to fly the Tornado and use
its systems properly. Several missions are set, allowing you to test
out all the weapons systems available on both the IDS and ADV
Tornados. In addition, there is a free flight mission that has no
preset targets. There are settings to allow infinite fuel and
weapons, as well as settings to deactivate simulated enemy forces and
damage to the aircraft in the event of hitting something solid.

The second mode is training. Here, although the enemy forces are
still simulated, you are actually flying a "real" aircraft. Crashing
is therefore fatal to your character, although there is the option of
ignoring a mission if it goes badly. This option is also available in
the third mode.  The training missions are similar to the simulator
missions and are designed to test your ability to drop real weapons
on real targets, with real flight characteristics and fuel loads.

The final mode is combat, which is actually split into three sub-
sections. These are Mission, Campaign and Two-Player.  The Mission
section takes place in one of three war zones, each war zone
consisting of 14 missions which may be carried out in any order. The
missions are not linked in any way; damage caused in one does not
appear in any other. This is the best way of obtaining actual combat
experience without having to worry about anything except survival.

The Campaign section also takes place in one of the three zones, but
here each mission is part of an overall strategy, and they must be
completed in order. For example, the first mission might be the
destruction of an enemy early warning radar base, with the second
mission then an attack on an airbase protected by that radar site.

Two player mode allows two machines to be linked. I cannot test this
mode without another AGA machine available. According to the manual,
the link is by null-modem cable only (the PC version allows modem
links as well...  bah) but does not state whether an Amiga can be
linked to a PC, or just to another Amiga. Whilst in two-player mode,
the players are placed in a one-on-one dogfight scenario, which is a
pity as it would be interesting to have the two players flying a co-
ordinated mission against the computer.

Although two player mode does not allow for multiple aircraft
missions, the one player modes do feature multi-aircraft missions,
with up to six Tornados taking part in a raid. In addition, there are
always a variety of other aircraft flying around, and it can be quite
interesting to sit back and view the antics of these drone aircraft
as they fly around, land, take off and so on.

Given that the Tornado is a combat aircraft, you may want to know
which weapons are available in the sim. For the Tornado IDS, you can
choose from the following selection of offensive and defensive
ordnance, though note that the defensive ordnance is still fairly
offensive if you happen to be on the receiving end. :-)

Offensive:

	1000 Pound unguided general purpose bomb.
	1000 Pound retarded bomb.
	1000 Pound laser guided bomb.
	BL755 Cluster Bomb.
	JP233 Runway Denial weapon.

Defensive:

	ALARM anti radar missile
	AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared homing air to air missile
	27mm Cannon (internal fit).

The Tornado ADV has a far smaller ordnance selection, but as a result
requires no thought regarding what weapon to put where, unlike the
IDS.

	AIM-9 Sidewinder
	27mm Cannon           both as above

	SkyFlash radar guided air to air missile

The SkyFlash is a British modification of the well known AIM-7
Sparrow with (apparently) an improved seeker head and fusing system.
Both IDS and ADV Tornados can also carry drop tanks to increase the
fuel load, and the IDS may fit external ECM and chaff/flare dispenser
pods whilst the ADV has these built in.

The graphics detail may be altered with various settings to allow
for a tradeoff between detail and frame rate. In addition, there is a
key command which toggles the detail between that set by the user and
a minimised setting set by the program. This is useful for those
times when a smoother screen update is required, such as landing or
manual bombing runs. By way of example, on an 030-25, the frame rate
varies from between 2-3 fps with full detail, to 10-12 with minimised
detail. Unfortunately, since the data cache has to be disabled in
order to stop the sim from randomly crashing on an 060, the frame rate
improvement here is less than spectacular, perhaps just an extra 1-2
fps at full detail, and maybe 4-5 more with minimised detail.
Interceptor or Retaliator it isn`t...

Although the graphics could warrant an entire review to themselves,
being so detailed, I will just mention my favourite feature:  clouds.
They work properly in that flying through a cloud results in the
display slowly turning from clear to totally white, and then back to
clear as you fly through the cloud. If the weather is overcast, the
entire view below the cloudbase looks dirty and foggy, and climbing
through the cloudbase results in the clouds turning from dirty grey
to pure white, and then you finally break out above the clouds into
brilliant blue skies, or starlit night depending on the mission time.
A cosmetic effect, yes, but very effective and very realistic.

Audio is limited to engine rumbles, with additional afterburner
roar, and a few spot effects for things like undercarriage
retracting, weapons release and explosions.  They are realistic,
however, and further add to the sense of being there in the cockpit.
Of course, if you have the volume turned up you'll probably mess up
your pants the first time the warning siren goes off. :-) There is a
tune of sorts playing during menu selections, but both this and the
in-game effects can be turned off if desired.

Additional features include a review facility, which allows the user
to look at the 3D models of all the combat vehicles in the game,
along with a digitised image. This is perhaps a bit gimmicky and
tends to be used most often by computer shops when displaying PCs in
their windows....  On the other hand, the explore function is very
useful, as it allows you to move anywhere within the map area, as if
you were in a very fast and maneuverable helicopter or drone.  You
can stop, fly forwards and backwards, rotate the view, climb and
dive. Basically, you can examine the 3D world from almost any angle
without having to get in a Tornado and fly around for real. This
is most useful when planning strike runs on targets, as you can
examine the relative location of the target(s) to hills, rivers,
other buildings etc.
You could also just spend hours moving around the world examining
the sometimes outrageous detail on the 3D models. For example, the
water tower model features a ladder and inspection catwalk, neither
of which are of any concern to the Tornado pilot flying at 50 feet,
600 knots.

One thing to be aware of is that the landscape is just a standard
piece of flat ground with mountains/hills placed on top.  The ground
itself does not undulate, unlike Gunship 2000, but the mountains are
not just pyramids; they are actually quite detailed.

Basically, the simulation appears to deal with most aspects of being
a Tornado pilot.  The only thing I can think of missing from the
simulation is in-flight refuelling (which the PC version does not
have either).  I could go on for a lot longer detailing the
simulation, but if I tell you that the manual is 332 pages long, and
the keyboard guide is larger than the entire documentation to some
other "sims", you'll understand that Tornado is not a program you can
simply describe in a few pages.


Compare it to...

I have used the following flight simulators on the Amiga:

	Gunship 2000
	Knights of the Sky
	Birds of Prey
	Interceptor
	F19 Stealth Fighter
	Thunderhawk
	Bomber
	Falcon (and Mission Disk 1)
	F29 Retaliator
	TFX

Knights of The Sky wasn`t too bad, but the only sims on that list
that come close to Tornado are Falcon and TFX.  The others are just
like arcade games in comparison.  Whilst Tornado might not look or
sound as pretty as some of them, Digital Integration seem to place a
high value on simulating the aircraft in question, adding nice
graphics as and when the hardware allows. And in my opinion, this is
the way it should be for a piece of software marketed as a
simulation.


To conclude...

For anyone with a fast AGA machine and a love of real flight
simulators, this product is an absolute must-have. If you prefer your
'flight' simulators to be more of a quick blast, then I'd advise you
to steer clear; Tornado is most definitely NOT a "pick up and play"
program.  I spent over 6 months using the Amiga version every single
day, before switching to the PC version, which then gave me an
additional year of flying before it taxied into the HAS for the last
time.  There is probably more to learn about in this sim than in ANY
other that has ever been released on the Amiga, and the only reason
I`m not totally sure about this is because I`ve never tried A310 :-)



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