When I was in high school, I gave serious consideration to joining the US Air Force. I wanted to fly a jet very badly, and the thought that the government might not be as eager to let me take control of a multimillion dollar, highly sophisticated, easily crashed piece of weaponry never crossed my mind. I’m not exactly sure how tough the criteria is to become a fighter pilot, but I’m guessing it’s specifically designed to make sure that the closest people like me ever get to an F-16 is cutting the grass alongside the runway.
The thing that finally did deter me from joining the USAF was the realization that I had a rebellious streak that bordered on being spiteful just for the sake of it, and that’s the kind of thing that tends to undermine any kind of a military career. Believe it or not, the armed forces don’t have much use for people who don’t like being told what to do, especially if they plan on giving that person enough firepower to level a small city. So instead I went to a small college and became an accountant. It’s pretty similar, really.
Nevertheless, there has always been a small part of me that always kind of wished that I had joined up. Or at least there had been right up until I started playing F-15 Strike Eagle II. This game sucks all the fun out of flying fighter jets. The excitement of aerial combat – dogfights, dodging SAMs, blowing up civilian pharmaceutical factories – is drowned in a sea of impossible control, unreadable displays, and muddy graphics that make it impossible to tell what the hell is going on. It kind of takes the fun out of shooting down MiGs when you can’t tell if you’re actually hitting them, missing them, or doing something else altogether, such as driving a bus.
I’m thoroughly convinced that anyone who plays this game will instantly lose any interest in becoming a fighter pilot – it’s that bad. Most video games glorify war, but this one makes it seem horrible – and not in a realistic “war is scary and your legs will blown off and your buddies will get killed and you’ll have to do horrible things to other people” kind of way – it’s just frustrating and irritating.
I’m sure this actually made people less likely to join the Air Force, and that’s a bad thing. Who knows, maybe the person who would have become the greatest fighter ace in this nation’s history is driving a forklift in some factory right now because he played F-15 for a few hours and it killed his dreams of flying jets. This game has probably undermined the Air Force’s recruiting efforts, depleted our ranks of talented pilots, and ultimately made us more vulnerable to an air strike. Forget about Grand Theft Auto or Mortal Kombat – F-15 Strike Eagle II is the type of game that truly makes our country less safe.