There’s a lot to be said for a fair fight, but this is war – lives are at stake and you want the odds stacked in your favour. Luckily, an opening has been spotted and you’ve got a clear run at the enemy’s airfields. Magnificent machines of warfare, rendered useless in their unmanned state? Great. Lots of destruction now, less risk later. Enemy vehicles scramble to stop you, but you have the upper hand – aerial superiority is assured. You can enjoy the carnage, safe in the knowledge that you’ll not have to deal with fighter jets later on. For today, the war is going well.
BIO: The Gulf War had only been over for a year by February 1992, but EA was already releasing Desert Strike – a game in which the American military took on fictional Middle Eastern dictator General Kilbaba. Was this controversial? You bet, but it propelled the game to enormous success, becoming EA’s best-selling title to date. While the timing of the game’s release certainly helped, it was the game’s mission-based shoot-’em-up action that really turned heads, ensuring a wide variety of ports and spawning a series that would elaborate on Desert Strike’s core gameplay for the rest of the Nineties.
MORE CLASSIC DESERT STRIKE MOMENTS
Right at the start of the game, you know that the best co-pilot isn’t available to you – he’s missing in action, having been shot down over the gulf. He’ll be standing by the wreckage of his plane when you find him, defending himself from infantry. Gun down the enemy and enjoy the game’s best marksman and fastest winch operator.
The second stage sees you blowing jails open in order to rescue political prisoners. Clearing each site’s defences is easy, but the real test begins when the prisoners escape – reinforcements will arrive, meaning you’ll either have to seek a better position and avoid shooting the prisoners, or stay put and hold your nerve as they climb the rope ladder.
Desert Strike makes sparing but effective use of cutscenes, and you’ll see your first one upon reaching the bunker in the first mission. Having learned its location from a commander caught as part of your previous objective, you can land nearby and watch the co-pilot storm into the bunker in full hero mode to rescue the captured secret agent.
None of Desert Strike’s missions are a walkover by any stretch of the imagination, and you’ll barely scrape through some of them, just about making it to open water with only a couple of fuel units left. This cutscene is proof that you’ve made it home safe and you can jot down the next mission’s password without worry. Now, exhale…