The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Game Point
Action in air

In an age of surface action games, flying high is not something one gets to do often. But isn't there as much charm ' if not more ' in manoeuvering an F-4 Phantom through a sheet of anti-aircraft fire as there is in shooting zombies in abandoned nuclear stations' Flyboys would swear so. And if doing multiple Gs (you know what that means, don't you') is what gets you going, Wings Over Vietnam is definitely worth a try.

If you're hooked to movies like Top Gun and the Iron Eagle series, or have tried your hands at games like Strike Fighters, you probably have a fair idea of what air combat action is all about. Wings Over Vietnam only places it in a historical perspective ' you are taken back to the days of the Vietnam war, when US Navy aircraft were regular intruders in Vietnamese and Cambodian airspace. You play the game from an American point of view, and thus have the prerogative to raid enemy outposts in the hostile terrain of Southeast Asia.

So off you go in the cockpit of an F-4 Phantom, A-4 Skyhawk or F-105 Thunderchief, loaded with ammunition to be used generously to beat the odds on the way. The planes, classic as they are, are modelled to pull off extreme manoeuvres, and are quite a pleasure to fly. One advantage to this effect is the ability on your part to switch from the in-cockpit camera to the external camera, the latter coming of use when you engage in complex flight patterns.

Soon, you'll come across the rogue MIGs, which ' despite their dexterity ' tend to act stupid at times. Especially in dogfight situations, they tend not to use their brains, so much so that when you are chasing them, they keep flying in a linear pattern. That only gives you a cleaner sight of them and enables you to lock a heat-seeking missile on the tail-exhaust. But if you think it's all a ball, think twice. With a spray of anti-aircraft shells coming at you from below, you yourself may have a hard time trying to stay on course with a fleeing MIG. Get the point'

The weapons at your disposal range from aircraft cannons to 250-lb bombs, but you have to be judicious while choosing your ammo before every mission. Each weapon, you'll soon find, comes of use in a specific mission, so carrying a fat bomb on a sortie where your mission brief is merely to take out enemy fighters won't help you to a great deal. Apart from cutting down your choice of appropriate weapons, it will also make your aircraft heavy during a dogfight.

The graphics of the game are not too high on resolution, but that's hardly a deterrent. The sound is fantastic, if you choose to ignore the static on the radio. Overall, it's sure to keep the adrenaline flowing, barring a few minor glitches. So fasten your seat belt, and don't forget to see where the ejection trigger is, in case you need to bail out!

Minimum system requirements: Operating system: Windows 98/20/XP; Processor: Pentium 233 Mhz; RAM: 64 MB; Hard drive space: 300 MB; Video card: 800x600 high colour (16 bit); CD-ROM: 4x

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