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                   Review: JetPilot from Vulcan Software
                            By:  Ken Anderson 
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The closest most of us get to plane is once a year in the summer, with
suitcases and suntan lotion and the worry if you remembered to switch
everything off.  Now Vulcan Software give you the chance to sit behind the
steering wheel of a virtual plane, and worry about air temperature and fog
instead.

And more.  You can worry about air pressure, the weight of your aircraft,
what time of day it is and all sorts of things you never worried about
before, because it's all here.  The tagline "The Pinnacle of Realistic
Flight Simulation" is wholly appropriate, because JetPilot is a really is a
simulation, and not a game.

Using the mouse or an analogue joystick, you are bundled into the cockpit
of the aircraft of your choice, and are free to fly around the simulated
airspace of 27 different airfields in Europe.  From what I tell having
"flown" from Leuchars, not far from me on the east coast of Scotland, the
map is realistic enough to win even the most pedantic of surveyor's
approval.

The real challenge, however, is to qualify for combat missions by passing
your training.  To do this - and I must admit, I didn't - you'll have to
master the umpteen different keypresses, and display a fair understanding
of how a real airplane works before you'll come even close.  If you're ever
on a plane and the stewardess shouts those awful words "can anybody fly
this thing?", you'll at least be able to respond "I'll have a go, I played
JetPilot a couple of times".

You can radio down to base and ask for weather conditions, you can take
command of 255 aircraft at once, you can view yourself upside down from
your wingman's plane; you could probably persuade JetPilot to play the
"Blue Danube" with the engines if you pushed the correct combination of
keys.

Of course, all this realism comes at a price, and it's in the hardware.  To
enjoy JetPilot at it's very best, you'll need at LEAST a fast 030, and
that's with quite a lot of the detail switched off.  The game is reasonably
configurable in terms of how much is drawn on screen, but by the time
you've advanced far enough to have more than a couple of co-pilots flying
beside you, the frame rate plummages and the technical realism looses the
edge.

JetPilot is the most ambitious flight simulator ever attempted on the
Amiga, and apart from the speed issues, it does the job well.  However, how
much entertainment you'll get out of it depends on how much effort - and
hardware - you put into it, and how often you've lusted about driving your
own killing machine around the skies.

Pros: Complete and comprehensive simulation.  Plenty to do and learn; plane
buffs will have a field day.

Cons: A true simulation, so no instant entertainment.  Requires a meaty
Amiga to get even average frame rates.  Also has one of the most painful HD
installers on record--not a carelessly implemented installer, but a very
odd one nonetheless.

JetPilot is priced at 16.99UKP (+ 2UKP for P&P outside the UK), and can be
ordered from:

Vulcan Software Limited
Vulcan House
72 Queens Road
Buckland
Portsmouth
Hants PO2 7NA
UK

http://www.vulcan.co.uk