Steel Talons is a helicopter action game that uses 3D, polygonal graphics to represent the playing area. It was developed and manufactured by Atari Games in 1991.
This being from the early 1990s: the 3D graphics are quite simple, and Steel Talons does look complicated to play on first inspection, but the gameplay is actually fairly simple.
There are 12 missions to play in total and you can start out by choosing between one of three missions. At the very beginning is a training mission where you follow an instructor who shows you how to target and destroy enemy vehicles. Then there’s a fairly simple search and destroy second mission, and you can also jump straight in to mission 10 if you’re an advanced player.
Targeting enemy vehicles as you fly is done for you and the general idea is to concentrate on where you’re flying, first and foremost, because it’s quite easy to crash. If course, once you have a target in your sights, you must decide whether to shoot it with your cannon or use your missiles. On-screen messages remind you how many targets you have remaining per mission.
You can switch between third-person and first-person view modes while playing, which is innovative for an arcade game. Graphically Steel Talons is very good too, with a decent frame rate and atmospheric lighting and fog effects.
The good thing about this game is that you can keep putting money into it to keep playing, so there’s no real pressure if you’re playing it in an emulator.
The original Steel Talons arcade cabinet had a flightstick, rudder, declination/inclination, and collective controls – as well as trigger and thumb buttons for firing. This can make it tricky to set up in an emulator.
Steel Talons is still worth playing now, though. As helicopter combat games go, this was an important one, and it still retains its playability to this day.