" Microprose's ATAC has not received the same wide attention as the company's other popular flight sims. Perhaps the game's subtitle "The Secret War Against Drugs" is daunting, but reason notwithstanding, ATAC is a game with solid roots not only in Microprose's own F-117A Stealth Fighter and F-15 Strike Eagle II series, but the ageing Carrier Command as well.
Designed by Argonaut Software (of Birds of Prey fame), ATAC is another of those action / strategy hybrids that seem to be multiplying faster than a hold full of tribbles.
What makes ATAC stand out is the way it blends furious air combat with an easy - to - manage strategy system.
The year is 2003 and the Colombian Drug Barons are still reaping billions of dollars in profit from their illicit operations.
The commander of the elite ATAC force has at his disposal - eight F-22 Advanced Tactical Fighters - eight AH-64A Apache helicopters and eight of the best pilots money can buy - no, make that eight of the best pilots willing to work for a government paycheck. The best pilots money can buy are employed by the four evil drug barons. These mercenaries have the latest in offensive Soviet hardware, including MiG-29's and Hind gunships.
ATAC headquarters is a secret jungle base from which all operations are launched. Using intelligence reports from agents (who must be kept happy and resupplied), and reconnaisance information, the player decides whioch targets to attack and select the appropriate aircraft. There are no preset missions so the wise commander will always strike where he can do the most damage. Destroying a shipment of processed cocaine will wreak more havoc than wasting a load of fresh coca leaves. Care must also be taken not to harm civilians.
Mission planning requires coordinating the intelligence reports, assigning pilots, selecting and
arming aircraft and editing waypoints.
It sounds like a lot of work, but the base layout is efficient and moving between areas is relatively painless. Once all of the logistical stuff is done it's time to get in the air and get busy.
All aircraft fly on autopilot but the player can assume control at any time. He may also jump into each aircraft and simply watch as its pilot carries out his mission. Aircraft assigned as wingmen tackle any threats to the leader but will not attack the assigned target unless taken over by the player. When the objectives are achieved, all aircraft return to the base and land one by one, taxiing Back to the ramp.
Watching a flight of F-22's and a flight of Apaches return simultaneously is a very pretty thing.
Rescue missions for downed pilots should be launched immediately - if the drug barons capture them, they're out for the rest of the campaign and there are no replacements.
Flight simulation is very smooth in the F-22, but, unlike Gunship 2000, the Apache handles like a cow. here's also good news and bad news for Thrustmaster users - the Flight Control System (joystick) is supported with multiple functions but the Weapon Control System (throttle) is useless. Back to the keyboard guys!
ATAC is good looking, entertaining and easy to use, and it provides a South American vacation, with pay.