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As a premier Top Gun of the world, you are at the head of this squadron and will have to fly through seventeen different missions to reach your goal of returning control of the air space back to its rightful government. You will be compensated throughout your mission with cash for the different enemy planes that you shoot down. After your fourth mission, you will be able to choose a paid wingman to guard your back or let him do his own thing to help you regain control of the skies.
Each mission will begin with a briefing that outlines your main targets for the mission. A digitized voice will dictate your mission as it is displayed on the screen. A detailed map of the zone will be shown with your primary targets appearing in flashing yellow squares. The initial position of enemy planes is shown with red targets and you will be able to obtain information about each of the planes such as whether the pilot is a Rookie, Veteran or Ace.
During your mission, your main targets can be identified by the Target Marker ID "TGT" which will be displayed in red next to your targets. Your tactical map will also display main targets as red circles, however, some of your targets may not appear on the map until you have made visual contact with them. Other enemies that are not your main targets will also be present, but it won't be necessary to eliminate them to complete your mission objectives. Their destruction, of course, will provide you with more money at the end of your mission.
As you progress through the missions, new aircrafts will become available for you to buy. Using the money you earn during the missions will permit you to upgrade to better, faster, and more efficient aircrafts. You will also be able to sell the aircrafts in your squadron. There are 12 jets that you will be able to buy and sell such as the MIG-29, F-14, TNDF-2, F-117 Stealth, F/A-18, and MIG-31. The cost of the jet along with the performance profile for its defense, power, mobility, offense, and stability will be displayed. If you have the money available, it is wise to own at least two aircrafts so that if you fail your mission, you will still have a plane to fly to attempt your mission again. Not more than eight planes can be in your squadron at once, and when they run out, your game will be over.
The missions themselves consist of chasing planes and shooting them down with your machine guns and missiles. If you are not extremely trigger happy, you should never run out of missiles and ammunition as you are provided with plenty. The same goes for your fuel, but if you happen to run out, your plane will dive to the ground. Other targets include helicopters, bridges, skyscrapers, mines, and ships. Most of your flying will take place during the day in air to air combat, but you will also find yourself flying at night, in canyons and doing air to sea and ground combat. When you are within 1000 meters of a target, your missiles will lock onto the target, and when you are within machine gun range, your gun sight will switch from a W form to a circular form.
The introduction and ending contain great 3D rendered graphics of jet planes flying in formation. The in-game graphics are also quite nice with textured sceneries and landscapes, however you won't be seeing much in terms of other aircrafts unless you play with a view from behind your own plane. Enemy airplanes are almost always more than 300 meters away and appear as small blurs on the screen. You will only see them as planes when they fly past you or if you are in behind them. When playing with the first person perspective view, your instrumentation will be displayed on the screen containing your current direction, speed, damage, altitude, fuel, number of missiles and ammunition.
There are voices in the game that will alert you of emergency situations and guide you on your mission. You'll hear warning, caution, pull up, down, stall, fuel low, and others. The voices, which are either male or female are fine and do help during the missions, but some of the warnings are repeated five times in a row which started to become a little too repetitive. Other than that, the sounds of jets and explosions are all very well done and the music that accompanies you on your missions is exciting and goes well with the game.
The 3D engine that controls your game play in Air Combat is very realistic and provides a good feel for piloting a plane. However, the game itself may be a little too easy for some. There are three difficulty levels to choose from which are easy, normal, and hard. In the easy level, an experienced player will be able to finish all seventeen missions within about two or three hours. Your enemies don't seem to chase you in this game and therefore, if you ignore the ones that aren't main targets and just fly past them, they won't bother you. However, your enemies will always try to avoid you if you chase then, and the game becomes more challenging if you attack all the unnecessary targets as well.
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