Advanced Tactical Fighters is Electronic Arts' follow-up to U.S.Navy Fighters, and shares all of that game's strengths and weaknesses. Like U.S.N.F., it features the best graphics of any flight sim to date, a variety of planes to fly, numerous difficulty levels, and completely customizable missions a la the original Chuck Yeager Air Combat. And, like U.S.N.F., it features oversimplified flight models and leaves the gamer with a vague sense of unreality.
ATF offers seven cutting-edge aircraft for your flying pleasure: the B-2A Spirit, Rafale C, F-117A Nighthawk, F-22, XF-31 EFM, XF-29 FSW, and the hypothetical X-32 Advanced Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (ASTOVL) aircraft. These aircraft run the gamut from stealth bombers to everything-but-the-kitchen-sink fighters, and provide an outstanding mix of missions and flight experience. Over 30 missions in Egypt, Russia, and France, as well as two complete campaigns, form the foundation of the game, while the quick mission builder and a pro mission builder make the gaming possibilities limitless. Add to this the capability for eight-person network and modem play and tons of on-line data, photos, and slick videos provided by Jane's Information Source, and you have a flight sim that's about as full-featured as it could possibly be.
On the downside, missions often seem to be needlessly difficult, with your wing expected to shoulder the complete burden in high-threat zones. This team also hasn't gotten much better at creating sophisticated Su-27-level flight models either. Planes just don't feel like they respond properly, and the flight models tend to all blend together. This won't be a negative for gamers who want the action and cutting-edge graphics (if they have the P120+ required to process them), but dedicated flight sim fans might not find it up to their expectations.