Review by Ari
The original Jetfighter had you fly the F-14 and F-18 from the deck of an aircraft carrier off the California coast, as well as an F-16 from any one of several San Francisco area airfields.
While this was my first VGA sim, it got old very quickly because of a few glaring (unnecessarily so IMNSHO) flaws. Starting simply was the campaign - there was none. While dynamic campaigning was still somewhat new when Falcon3 came out (and that was after JFII), the campaign in JFI seems purposeless, with no consequences either positive or negative arising from your completion or failure of any mission (which are repetitive anyway).
Next comes the premise - the USA has been invaded, with California as the frontline of WWIII, a story likely to raise howls even with those who thought "Red Dawn" was 'frighteningly plausible.
Next comes the scenery - there wasn't any: though modeling the California coast, and except for some obvious territorial features like the Golden Gate, it may well have been set anywhere. It could have been anywhere, which only underlines the question of the premise - why California? What we do get is not only bland, the designers don't even try to create a convincing looking battleground - there are no tanks, air defense sites, command centers or anything.
Bear in mind the hardware of the day placed limitations on what was possible - MiGMan
The idea is that the enemy has moved - lock, stock and 4-23MM barrels into the houses and buildings of California, an idea that'd be easy to swallow if it didn't seem too convenient. SAM's are pretty much non-existent, appearing out of nowhere and disappearing about as fast (if not for the on-board computer, you'd never even know they were there until....well, you'd end not ever knowing they were there). -
He he - sounds like business as usual to me - I never know where the SAM sites are! MiGMan
The last straw was your stable of jets. As airplanes go - Tomcat, Hornet and Falcon - who'd complain about that choice? Actually, it's no real choice, and each is pretty much indistinguishable from the other - the Tomcat carries no bombs while the F-16 is shorebound, and that's about as detailed as the models go. (Actually, on JFI, you could land an F-16 onto a flattop using wheelbreaks for stopping power - a flaw addressed when JFII set speed limits for use of wheelbrakes).
Radar was pretty simple with "multi-mode" going no further than scalable ranging. The HUD was also pretty dirt simple - with no FPL to clue you in to your roll-attitude when your nose was over the horizon, while a lack of target cues made it difficult to engage in any fun close-range ACM. Targeting for any of your AAM's was fairly identical, while targeting for strike munitions was pretty non-existent. There's no CCIP for your bombs and as for your other AG weaponry - there isn't any. I learnt pretty quickly that the best way to bomb a ground target is to use Sidewinders instea
Radar was pretty simple with "multi-mode" going no further than scalable ranging. The HUD was also pretty dirt simple - with no FPL to clue you in to your roll-attitude when your nose was over the horizon, while a lack of target cues made it difficult to engage in any fun close-range ACM. Targeting for any of your AAM's was fairly identical, while targeting for strike munitions was pretty non-existent. There's no CCIP for your bombs and as for your other AG weaponry - there isn't any. I learnt pretty quickly that the best way to bomb a ground target is to use Sidewinders instead."
The most annoying glitch was weapons cycling - there could have been several different ways to get weapons-cycling wrong, and JF's team managed to hit each one. First, they combine AG and AA weapons on the same circuit - you can't jump to a specific weapon - and you can only cycle in one direction. You have to cycle through weapons, even when your Winchester. This means that when you're in a dogfight, and you've got to cycle to a different weapon, you've got to cycle through your bombs as well (and the targeting computer clears once you've deselected missiles.
This was less of a problem on the bomb-less F-14 (not a pound for air-to-ground, right?), but the circuit of all the planes, had a "weapons-safe" setting which cleared the targeting as well, forcing you to re-acquire. The designers added insult to injury in the cycle's order - with short range weapons cycled before long-range - even though in real-life ACM, you'd expect the order to be the opposite. The instrumentation isn't very inspired, with digital readouts used where analog type would've been preferable, and sound won't win any Grammies either."
Bear in mind that in those days game sound was produced by the CPU - no sound cards! - and the sooun d came through the PC speaker - you know the little one that nowadays only beeps on startup.
MiGMan thanks Ari for the review.