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PC Game Review

Carrier Strike Force
Add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 / FSX


Format: PC
First Class Simulations
RRP: £19.99
5 060020 473012
Age Restrictions: Not Rated
Available 20 March 2008

Climb into the cockpit of three detailed high performance aircraft from around the world and land or take-off from the deck of moving aircraft carriers. Carrier Strike Force has an impressive fleet of aircraft that will keep you on the edge of your seat and a set of six missions plus a further six open-ended practice missions for users of Flight Simulator X to complete...

Carrier Strike Force is another impressive add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 / FSX. The aircraft carriers in this game actually move, presenting the flight simmer with a real challenge when attempting to land the aircraft on a moving deck.

There are three aircraft included, each is dressed in authentic paint schemes and with beautifully rendered graphics, including animated flight control surfaces and accurate flight models. You get F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter); AV-8B Harrier II Plus; and Rafale M. All come with various choices of liveries, depending on which nation you want to fly under.

There are also three aircraft carriers included in this game: HMS Illustrious (UK), The USS Bonhomme Richard (USA) and Charles de Gaulle (French).

HMS Illustrious, or “Lusty” as she is known by her crew, is the second of three Invincible Class aircraft carriers and features the AV-8B II Plus Harrier aircraft. Four gas turbine Olympus engines power “Lusty” making her a marinised version of Concorde, with a top speed in excess of 30 knots.

The USS Bonhomme Richard is an amphibious assault ship with a primary mission of embarking, deploying and landing elements of a Marine force in amphibious assault operations by helicopter, landing craft, amphibious vehicles or combination of theses means. In this package you will be landing a F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter on her decks.

Charles de Gaulle was commissioned in September 2000 and is a 38,000t, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, constructed at Brest in Brittany. Following sea trials in 1999, she had the deck lengthened by 4.4 metres and can operate a fleet of up to 40 aircraft including the Rafale M fighters included in this package.

FSX gamers also benefit from six missions:

Mig Crisis: You are on manoeuvre in an F-35 in the north pacific with the carrier task force when a break away state claims territorial waters of your route and sends out four Mig aircraft towards the carriers.

Mig Thunder 1, 2 and 3: The Charles De Gaulle carrier is under attack by four unidentified Mig aircraft off South America / the Mediterranean / a desert coast of Africa.

Joint Mission Training: Fly the F-35 on manoeuvres from the Charles De Gaulle along side the HMS Illustrious and the USS Bonhomme Richard.

HMS Illustrious Training: Practice joint naval amphibious operations with the US navy and Marines at Cape Wrath bombing range.

There are also six open ended practice missions (four based on the Charles De Gaulle in Hawaii / Indian Ocean / Philippines / Suez Canal; and two based on HMS Illustrious operations in New Orleans / the Panama Canal) where you can come in for landing and fly around and try again as many times as you like.

To start with, I found landing on the aircraft carriers an almost impossible task. But, over time it becomes fairly straightforward, and adds a lot more fun and challenge to take offs and landings on static runways that have a much longer area to set down on.

Of course, you can fly any other aircraft you have from the aircraft carriers - although obviously you won't be landing or taking off with a jumbo jet - and using them as a target for helicopters is also quite challenging.

This add-on will add much to your gaming experience. And, if you are a true Flight Sim addict, you'll want to rush out and add this to your collection. FS 2004 owners won't get the full experience, but will still gain a lot of enjoyment from what's there - and there's always the option to upgrade in the future when you finally get around to purchasing FSX.


Nick Smithson

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