Now this is it. This is one member of the 1994/95-ruling triumvirate of flight simulators (the other two being TFX and Tornado, both also featured on this site). F-14 Defender is a simulation of the F-14 Tomcat, and in reality, this game still has no kin to this very day. The VGA graphics are extremely good, with external loadouts represented in all their texture-mapped glory, a sky with varying colors that change with the time of day... The only problem with the graphics is the “shimmering mass of water” effect that appears sometimes at some altitudes due to the perspective on the sea texture. Sounds are good for their time but not exceptional. |
The flight model is extremely good, portraying the fast acceleration of the aircraft as well as the flying brick manouverability. Weapons are also nicely modelled, with the Phoenix missile being a real lifesaver at long ranges (it’s one of the biggest aerial sticks used to poke your enemy out of the sky), the Sparrow being inaccurate, and the Sidewinder usually spelling doom to the fool who's strayed in front of it. Carrier ops are very well modelled, and nighttime carrier landings will test your nerves. Radar modes are correctly implemented. There are several campaigns, as well as training (it’s one of the campaigns) and dogfight mode (you choose the opponents, time of day, the opponents’ skill levels and your loadout.
A word of warning though: this game is not for beginners. This is a really complex flight sim, the kind that needs many playing hours before you really get to grips with it. If you persevere, this is a game that will really have going for some time to come. Just don't skip the manual, as it really is a requirement.
Note: The two manuals the game came with suffer from many inaccuracies and omissions - Robin G. Kim's guide linked below should help you understand those and some of the bugs the game shipped with.
Reviewed by: Tiago