Like Paul McCartney, the Jetfighter series just won't go away. Debuting in the late '80s and morphing through oodles of iterations since then, Jetfighter has alternately been fun (the floppy-ensconced original), semiauthentic (Jetfighter IV and V), and disappointing. Now in its sixth incarnation, the futuristically titled Jetfighter 2015, the game has seemingly given up any and all pretensions of being complex or appealing to simulation fans. Indeed, the latest in the lineage hearkens back to the glory days of the arcade coin-op, when authenticity and flight dynamics took a very distant backseat to blowing up virtually everything you see as soon as you see it, lest the colossal swarm of bad guys gets you first. But while Jetfighter's throwback style of high-speed hijinks is moderately good fun over the short term, it quite likely isn't enough to keep most players playing over the long haul. Its bargain-basement pricing and inclusion of Jetfighter V on a separate disc are definite draws for certain folk, but the repetitive, simplistic yet manic gameplay and matching retro graphics will rightfully drive many more away. It's not a bad game per se; it's just old and disappointing.
In Jetfighter 2015, it is your sworn duty to blow up as much stuff as possible. Here, an enemy helicopter becomes an airborne bonfire.
Jetfighter certainly won't worry flight-sim developers. Each of the game's missions starts you off in the air, so there's no worry about takeoffs and landings. There's also no need to fret over midair stalls, redouts, fuel problems, waypoints, weapons loadouts, or any of the other trials and tribulations that befall "real" pilots. Heck, you won't even need a joystick. Like a midair shooter, Jetfighter is best operated with a mouse and a few keyboard keys. "Strafe," "Hover Up," and "Hover Down" are all commonly accessed commands.
The game opens on the premise that terrorists are very, very bad. Nothing new there, but in this case, the blighters have been pushed into the backwoods of South America. There, they plan to make their final stand, making and selling their drugs, annihilating anyone who gets in their way, and quite possibly developing USA-destined nuclear weapons. It is your duty, as the sole pilot in the sole airplane America is able to spare, to bring an end to their aspirations.
Jetfighter does not offer a lot of gameplay options. There's a short but informative training session, a free-flight mode that lets you flit about various locales without firing a shot or seeing an opponent, and the game's main event--a nondynamic campaign consisting of 15 individual missions. Each will take you farther toward your final goal and toss more and more enemies at you along the way. A typical scenario involves locating a drug plantation, blowing it to smithereens, discovering other targets and destroying them too, and annihilating the horde of flying machines sent to end your run. Prospective targets include buildings and structures, ships and submarines, and assorted aircraft such as fighter jets, bombers, helicopters, and the like.
It can become insanely busy out there, what with mobile antiaircraft vehicles zipping about below you, dozens of fixed gun placements, and wave upon wave of various aircraft. Note that each mission begins in exactly the same fashion every time you attempt it. Note also that each enemy enters the fray from exactly the same position every time you go back to that mission. At least their combat movements are in reaction to your own. Moreover, some missions do add an extra element, such as protecting a fleet of ships or offering cover for a friendly helicopter that's just picked up a Very Important Person.
However, the game operates on the tried-and-true arcade principle that if enough enemies are thrown at you, you will repeatedly fail and be forced to replay said mission a zillion times until you know everything that's going to happen in advance and are quick enough to deal with it. Some missions are very tough indeed, and at times you may throw your hands up in the air, stomp your feet, and curse the occasionally sadistic difficulty.