F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter 2.0

From The DOS Gaming Scholar

Over the USS America, Libyan Theater

Bombing the Presidential palace in Baghdad

F-117A Stealth Fighter 2.0 is a combat flight sim released by Microprose in 1991.  It’s an “upgrade” of sorts of 1988’s popular F-19 Stealth Fighter game, which was the first flight sim to tackle the mysterious stealth fighter.   F-19 was released before anyone outside the US Air Force had even seen a stealth fighter, so that game’s jet looked nothing like the real F117.

The real stealth fighter was unveiled to the public in 1990 and F117A Stealth Fighter 2.0 was Microprose’s attempt to update their simulation to the specs of the actual plane, as well as upgrade the graphics to the new VGA standard and add a few new theaters and features…

CGW Magazine ad

The game was released to generally positive reviews that praised the action and strategy but complained that it wasn’t enough of a step-up from the previous game.  Here’s a scan of Computer Gaming World’s review:

F-177A also managed to achieve an impressive 16th place on CGW’s top 100 games in early 1992, and then slowly dropped over the next 3 years until it fell off the list in October 1994…

Box scans. (courtesy Mobygames)

To play any classic DOS flightsim today you need three things:  A cheap joystick, the DOSBox DOS emulator and the game files themselves which you can get here at Abandonia.  Also make sure to download the manual which is on Abandonia’s F117A page.
The optimal DOSBox setting seems to be about 5500 cycles.  Keep in mind that the game was -designed- to play at a slightly choppy framerate.  You don’t want it too smooth because the game will play too fast and make landings and combat impossible. 
Run the game by mounting the game folder and typing “F117”, and then select AdLib sound.
This video covers the basics of playing the game:

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So here’s the F117A cockpit view. 

 This might seem complex but there are really only THREE systems you need to know about:

HUD modes: To target anything you need to first set your HUD to Ground or Air mode.  You can cycle between Navagation, Air and Ground HUD modes with the F2 key.

MAPS: The F3 key cycles the left MFD between the Mission Map which shows radar ranges, waypoints(F7 key) and the rough positions of enemy aircraft and the Tactical Map which shows a closer view of enemies and even missiles heading towards your plane. The Z and X keys zoom these maps.

TARGET CAMERA:  To attack any object in the game you first need to lock it up in the Target Camera, which you can aim in any direction with the / . , and M keys, and then cycle targets with the N and B keys.

Beyond this the basic idea in Stealth Fighter is to sneak into the target area by flying as low and slow as possible, and to avoid enemy radars by following this simple rule when flying near them:

Also remember that spacebar cycles your current weapon and that you have to open your bomb bay doors with the 8 key before launching any weapon.

After playing through a couple missions I have to say that F117A has stood the test of time. It remains a unique and strategically interesting game in it’s genre; it’s not just about blowing things up or twiddling knobs, its a STEALTH Combat Flight Simulator.  Also unlike later complex simulators F117A is a simple game to get into yet it still has the potential for deep strategic play.

Sure the graphics are crude, but this doesn’t really matter if you’re interested in pure gameplay.  You can almost think of it as a computerized boardgame with simple symbolic graphics.  It’s basic, but it’s FUN.

The DOS Scholar gives F117A Stealth Fighter 2.0 three out of four golden floppies.

Original URL: http://dos-scholar.blogspot.com/2011/04/coming-soon.html