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iF-16, Interactive Magic, Research Triangle Park, N.C., $49.95.

iF-16 involves foot soldiers, which affords it some new wrinkles not seen in previous F-16 games. Users will see the grunts running around bases in training missions and later working with special forces teams. Whether users end up launching laser-guided bombs at targets illuminated by the covert teams or providing close air support, it is clear that including ground forces makes the simulations more realistic.

There is a caveat for novice gamers here, however, since iF-16 requires a player to land in order to successfully conclude and receive credit for a mission. That forces a player to make many landings and take fuel conservation into consideration.

The level of realism is strong. Ordnance types and selection are very good, but opponent intelligence is a bit too scripted. After nearly all my missile launches, I could see adversaries releasing chaff or flares, and when possible they would retaliate. But they did not maneuver as aggressively as a real adversary might have. The flight model is decent, and cockpit instrumentation and symbols are well-done.

iF-16 is a step behind current competitors in the graphics department, and while Hind and Apache ran well on 486 processors, iF-16 really prefers a Pentium class processor of 150Mhz or better. If you are willing to reduce the graphic detail level, iF-16 could perform on a Pentium 90. If you have a modem, you can fly cooperatively or competitively with a friend.

One other major complaint was the lack of a “check six” view. A fighter simulation without a rear view is like a linebacker with no peripheral vision. Interactive Magic has made available a patch to remedy the problem, however, so check their web site if you are interested in receiving it. At this writing, Falcon 4.0, the fourth generation of the leading F-16 simulation from Microprose, was still pending release.

Bernard Dy