F24 Stealth Fighter was clearly inspired by such classic air combat games as F-15 Strike Eagle and Turn and Burn: No Fly Zone. In the game, you climb into the cockpit of the fictional F24 fighter jet and fly missions from a first-person viewpoint in the skies over Iran. Unfortunately, the main thing F24 Stealth Fighter has in common with the air combat games of days gone by is that it looks and sounds like it was developed decades ago. Along with that, the dogfighting in the game is boring and is further stymied by the touchy controls and the disorienting visuals.
F24 Stealth Fighter is a first-person air combat game similar to those produced for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis.
From the controls to what happens in the sky, F24 Stealth Fighter takes a laid-back approach to air combat. The D pad is used to steer the aircraft, while the buttons control throttle and weapons. You'll remain in the air just as long as you don't intentionally smash into the ground, run out of fuel, or get shot down. Your flight view is presented from a first-person perspective, but instead of employing 3D graphics, the game juxtaposes scaling cloud and aircraft sprites on top of 2D backdrops to fake a 3D look. All of the missions in the game follow the same format. Your first task is to get rid of any enemy MiGs patrolling the skies over the target area. Once you've taken out the planes, your next task is to fly to the designated waypoints and attack the enemy's ground targets, which can involve launching Tomahawk missiles at them or attacking them directly during a strafing run. There's really nothing to dogfighting or destroying ground targets. If an enemy MiG or surface-to-air missile gets behind you, all you need to do is turn around or drop some chaff to deal with the threat. Otherwise, shooting down a target simply involves sighting it and pressing the missile button when you hear the lock-on tone. To take out tanks, carriers, and structures on land, you'll occasionally have to use your guns to hit flashing target markers. Your own aircraft can absorb five hits before exploding, but you can return to the carrier's waypoint once per mission to automatically land for repairs and reloading. The developers clearly made a conscious effort to make blowing stuff up simple and easy.
Destroying the same enemy planes and tanks in the same repetitive fashion does get old pretty fast, but what really sucks the fun out of the game are the jumpy steering controls and disorienting visuals. When you tap the D pad, the targeting reticle goes flying. This makes it difficult to keep targets in view and makes it impossible to use the F24's machine guns in normal dogfight situations. Missiles lock on automatically and can turn on a dime to follow targets, so there's no compelling reason to ever use the guns, except when they're required for a strafing run. Disorientation is another common problem because the flat 2D backdrops don't provide anything in the way of terrain details or landmarks. All you ever see are generic clouds flying past. To locate targets and see which way you're going, you'll find yourself switching to the radar view (and interrupting the flow of combat) every few seconds.