F19 Stealth Fighter for DOS

F19 Stealth Fighter

F19 Stealth Fighter

F19 Stealth fighter was released by Microprose in 1988 for the PC and for other platforms over the following years. The game is the predecessor to a family favourite F117a also released by Microprose. It is a combat flight simulator based around a fictional aircraft called the F19. There was much speculation about the presence of stealth fighters during the development of this game, partly because of some aircraft designations that were not used. As a stroke of good luck Mircoprose happened to release F19 stealth fighter the same day that the US military admitted the existence of the F117a Nighthawk.

Mission briefing

Mission briefing

Being an older game it has support for a much wider array of graphics hardware than its successor. CGA, Tandy, Hercules, and EGA are all available. The game has a VGA mode, but this simply seem to be mostly the same as EGA, most objects are rendered in EGA colours with the exception of some parts of the cockpit. Perhaps VGA support was incomplete.

Ready for take-off

Ready for take-off

The EGA/VGA graphics are quite nice, making effective use of dithering. The 3d rendered terrain whilst not as nicely coloured as F117a, is still quite detailed and includes clouds, buildings, terrain and oceans. I did briefly try out CGA graphics, and whilst it was playable, it certainly doesn’t look anywhere near as nice. There was too much dithering to make things very visible in the simulation.

Dead missile boat

Dead missile boat

Sound is PC speaker only, mostly because when the game was being developed there were little to no sound cards available. Adlib cards were only released the year before. The sound that is there is pretty much the same as F117a in many ways. The engine sound is annoying, but fortunately can be turned off. The other sounds aren’t amazing but aren’t bad either.

Mission summary

Mission summary

The game plays much like F117a as you would expect, it has basically the same controls for instance. However there are some subtle differences between the two. I found F19 to be easier in some respects, particularly landing. I was able to land on a carrier with much less trouble than I’ve had on F117a. It seems that you are a bit more stealthy as well, but that could just be the difficulty settings I had. It also seemed to be more agile than the F117 version, being a bit easier to dogfight with.

The bar

The bar

I very much enjoyed playing F19 which shouldn’t be surprising given that F117a is one of my favourites. Sure the technology isn’t as good, but it did come out 3 years earlier. The main difference between the two is the aircraft itself, each having their own interesting facets. Looking at the design for the F19 itself, I find it remarkable how much like the later stealth bombers it is in appearance, perhaps the designer didn’t find his true calling!

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4 Responses to “F19 Stealth Fighter for DOS”

  1. January 12, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I love this game. growing up me and my best friend at the time played this for hours on his Tandy. I recently found a complete copy at goodwill….except for one thing that was missing. the disks! so now i have a nice boxed copy without the actual game.

  2. January 12, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Wow that must be annoying! I’m sure you could find a copy around on either ebay, amazon or elsewhere on the net. Living in Oz I unfortunately don’t have a place like goodwill to find old software/hardware. I have this copy from our old collection of floppies, with all those kinds of materials missing! Fortunately that means I can still play it. I’d also suggest seeking out the F117a nighthawk 2.0 edition, it is a little different, but very similar in most aspects.

    • January 12, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      isnt f117a mostly the same except the aircraft is less fighter oriented but more stealthy?

      • January 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm

        You actually get to choose between the realistic and microprose version of the f117a. The realistic one is as you describe, but the microprose one is much like f19 in that it has guns for dogfighting and four bomb bays. I usually picked the microprose one as it was more fun and could carry more weapons.

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