My first impressions, in 1992
The flight model was very fluid. There were Indonesian F-16's and A-4 Skyhawks as well as C-130's to shoot down (or be shot down by!), and palm trees, huts and barracks to bomb.
Because of the limited resources and the nature of the campaign, you felt really involved with the progress of your ground troops. Occasionally the fleet would come under air attack as well and you could watch the action from the "pri-fly".
The SAMs and AAA were very scary...the pucker factor increased ten-fold when you saw a smoke trail heading towards you! Ground units such as Hovercraft, landing craft, Tanks, APC's were included and they slugged it out with great explosions which generated persistent columns of smoke.
Navigation got easier as the campaign progressed... the FEBA was found by flying straight towards the smoke columns!
You could have up to 6 Harriers flying at once and jump in and out of any of them! It used to get sticky if you jumped into a Harrier as it flew past a SAM site!
Energy management was very necessary in dogfights as the Harrier bled off speed quickly, particularly if you used the thrust vectoring... a technique known as VIFFing, Vectoring in Forward Flight.
Section from the East Timor Navigation Chart included in the package.
Mission Planing Interface
Going for a Guns kill on an A-4 Skyhawk
The campaign progressed in real time. You controlled:
- The Tarawa and it's Fleet
- Ground Forces
- Attack Choppers
- Special Forces (to lase targets for you)
- and of course your limited supply of Harriers.
Actually all the resources were limited and the campaign quite quite difficult to win. Actually I never once won a campaign. As time went on you flew in daylight, dusk, night and dawn.... all with appropriate lighting effects.
SVGA Harrier had immense replay value as the campaign never played the same twice, and it was entirely up to you as to how you win the ground war.
This sim became an unwitting participant in the censorship debate in Australia as the Catholic Teachers Federation, apparently eschewing the formality of reading the manual let alone playing the sim, asked for it to be banned on the basis it was offensive to the East Timorese!
Obviously those well intentioned folk had not bother to read the product description, or the manual, or perhaps played the sim. These were the early days of a social engineering movement that later became known as "Political Correctness".