Originally created 02/11/02

Jet simulator has flaws, but only flying game for Xbox

"Airforce Delta Storm" is the first combat flight simulator to touch down on the Xbox.

I'm hoping there are better things in store.

That's not to say the Konami title is a bad game, because it's actually quite good. It simply has a few problems that make it fall short of excellence.

Perhaps the hardest thing to deal with, at least for me, is that there is no real sense of speed. You drone along at, say, 250 knots. Then a threat appears and you hit the throttles. The speed indicator goes up, but the plane never gives you any indication you're accelerating, or moving at hundreds of miles an hour.

Another drawback is no multiplayer mode. Maybe next time.

In "Airforce Delta Storm," you play as a hired gun, paid big bucks for every successful mission you complete.

The money comes in handy, as you can buy a fabulous assortment of aircraft, if you can afford them, or add onto the clunker you're already flying. There are more than 70 fighter aircraft available from most of the world's developed nations.

Take a Russian MiG-27 aloft. Or try a Swedish J-35 Draken, a Harrier jump jet or an F-14D Tomcat, the plane that starred in the Tom Cruise movie "Top Gun."

If you trash a plane, it's gone for good - so fly carefully.

You play for one side in a future where the haves and the have-nots are at each other's throats. You are offered dozens of missions, ranging from single combat with an enemy ace to attacking an invading assault force to destroying an enemy fortress.

You have a limited supply of missiles and unlimited machine-gun ammo to accomplish your tasks. Using your missiles wisely is vital. It's tough to target opposing fighters with the guns, which are best used against less mobile targets.

There also is an excellent heads-up display which offers you all the information - and more - you can use.

Graphics get a B+. The 3D environments are huge, the targets themselves are wonderfully detailed and the planes are excellent renditions of the real thing. Details in the background are not up to those standards.

Sound gets a B. Loved the plane engines and the sounds of destruction; hated the music. Turn down the tunes, and just enjoy the roar of conflict.

Control gets another B. The default layout is hard to use, but after some trial and error, you should be able to design a setup you can work with.

"Airforce Delta Storm" earned its B rating. It's a solid piece, entertaining and engaging, with just a few flaws holding it back.

"Airforce Delta Storm" is rated E, for ages 6 and up.

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