Jetfighter II Jetfighter II
Exhibit: Jetfighter II

JFII upped the ante by adding a new plane - the F-23, the production version of the YF-23 that competed against the YF-22 in the USAF's ATF competition. Though never apparently considered by the Navy, the F-23 is in the game as CV-based, arrestor hook and all.

In hindsight, it's easy to see what a hit the designers took giving the nod to the F-23 over the F-22, though it seemed weird to see the game hit the shelves of Software Etc one week and have the USAF ditch the F-23 what seemed a scant few weeks (if that long) later. An add-on disc offered a chance to fly the F-22 as well, offering the player the chance to decide for themselves which plane was the better choice. The new plane also came with a completely new weapon - an unguided kinetic-energy missile resembling something Dale Brown suggested in "Silver Tower".

JFII also upped the graphics with shading and variable horizons, but these effects were wasted on my 286, on which the game otherwise ran fairly well. Arming was also improved, offering you variable load-outs for any given plane.

That said, the game repeats all the major errors of the first game - we're back in California against a phantom enemy that's set up house in Melrose Place. We've got the same flat terrain, non-existent AI, uninspired sound, graphics and instrumentation as the older game without anything new enough to compensate.

The Splash screen for Jetfighter II

The F-23 aside, the other jets are still too similar. Even that new plane doesn't add to the game, though supercruising does shorten missions though. Even the fantasy weapon is a disappointment - it's basically a non-rapid fire gun, without sufficient targeting information to make it useful against maneuverable targets like fighters, or the lethality to make it useful in AG missions. About the only thing it's good for is shooting down enemy transports and other slow-movers.

Still, I kept coming back to JFII - if only because it let me fly under the Golden Gate bridge and because it was the only game I had that made carrier landings fun. The only other games I had allowing carrier landings were F19 Stealth Fighter and Flight of the Intruder. I couldn't get into Intruder and the flight characteristics of F-19 seemed too slow to be realistic. That's what killed me about this game - the flight models (accept for being indistinguishable from each other) were fluid and felt real. It's like this was the product of two design teams, but only one of them did their job.

MiGManAri for his memories.

Jetfighter II by Mission Studios (1990)