Game Review - by Randy Widell
iF/A-18E is the latest from Interactive Magic, Inc. An in depth simulation of the carrier-based strike fighter: iF/A-18E is very thorough in its modeling of the F/A-18E's flight characteristics and controls. iF/A-18E challenges players to take control of the Super-Hornet in campaigns based on current politics in the Persian Gulf and Aegean Sea areas, and in single missions by the game.
iF/A-18E supports, as the manual says, "most popular 3D accelerator boards," and installation is pretty simple. iF/A-18E sports fully dynamic campaigns (Persian Gulf and Aegean Sea theatres); instant action; a single mission generator; and multi-player support for modem, LAN, and the Internet. iF/A-18E also includes a mission planning system, and a choice between a relaxed and an expert flight model.
Use Carrier Strike Fighter's Active Cockpit just as you would the real thing ... most every switch and button visible on screen can be clicked and manipulated with the mouse. The result is the most intuitive control system you'll find in a flight sim. Keyboard buffs still have access to all the same functions via keyboard or programmable joysticks.
Despite the thorough modeling of the F/A-18, iF/A-18E's graphics lag behind other simulations like Jane's Combat Simulations F-15. The environmental effects in iF/A-18E reminded me of some legacy games; they are pretty inorganic and disappointing.
The clouds are chunky, the horizon is sharp, and the haze effects are kind of lame. I was also disappointed with the environmental textures. Like another of I-Magic's games, iF-22, the ground textures give the impression that the plane is always at a very high altitude. This effect is very strange, and unrealistic.
The sound effects in iF/A-18E are pretty standard. Radio chatter, ambient engine noise, and the likes fill the cockpit. Anyone who has played a newer flight simulator will find the sounds in iF/A-18E to be satisfactory.
Gameplay is about average as well. Most flight simulators are getting complex and have higher and higher learning curves. iF/A-18E is no exception, especially when using the expert flight model. It takes a while of playing to get used to the keyboard commands and flight models.
Overall, iF/A-18E is a pretty impressive game as far as the physics and campaigns go. Granted, the graphics are somewhat under par, but the campaigns are interesting and with dynamically generated missions, the game will remain interesting even after the completion of the campaigns.