08 March 2010

TFX: The Game

Voo Tatico reminded me of some of the great flight simulators of years past. Unfortunately, flight simulators, once one of the most popular computer game genres, have dwindled to the point where you can hardly even find a joystick in Best Buy.

Flight simulators seem to have peaked in the early to mid-90s, with companies such as Spectrum Holobyte and MicroProse creating simulators which accurately modeled the cockpit and performance of several military aircraft, such as the F-16, MiG-29, F-15, F-14 and Tornado IDF. One flight simulator, however, was notable not only for its great gameplay, but also for its superb in-flight music, a rarity in the more realistic simulators. That game was called "TFX", created by a British company called Digital Image Design.

One of the most difficult aspects of creating a flight simulator is designing a plot line for the air combat in the game. Falcon 3.0 gave us scenarios in the Middle East and Korea. Its add-ons allowed players to fight the Russians in the Kuril Islands or on the side of the Pakistanis against India. Nevertheless, despite the implausibility of those plot lines, TFX features an even more absurd sequence of events.

In TFX, you can fly F-22s, Eurofighter Typhoons, or F-117s in the official United Nations Air Force. The game creators (British, mind you) seemed to think that, by the early 2010s, the US would be leading all the other nations in the UN--a coalition of the willing, if you will--in a crusade against dictators with arsenals of weapons of mass destruction.

Not exactly.

But even more bizarre were the actual campaign story lines. The game also suffered from a lack of creativity, simply rehashing plotlines from previous wars. Laughably, the game designers seemed to think that the British and Argentines would still be arguing over the Falkland Islands of all things.

In-Game video from TFX by Digital Image Design

45 seconds in, note the headline "Planet Police Strikes Again", with the UN logo in the background. Like an over-the-top parody of Team America, with the UN substituting for the US...

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