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ZX Spectrum 48K

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Rod Lawton
Chris Bourne

Gremlin sink the Bismarck.

Against a silver moon an awesome shape comes rumbling towards its destiny... the end of the runway and an undignified plop into the Atlantic Ocean, if you're not careful. No matter how awesome or rumbly the Grumman Avenger - a twin-engined World War two bomber - might be, you can't just jump in and expect to fly it straight away.

Your ultimate aim is to sink the notorious Bismarck in this mixture of simulation, action and strategy. But first you must learn how to fly your aircraft - made more complicated by the fact that you must continually switch from the pilot's chair to the engineer's, where you have to adjust the throttle, mixture setting, undercarriage, fuel tank selection and a whole host of other critical factors.

Two further views can be selected - the rear gunner's and the navigator's. The rear gunner has a sight which can be moved about the screen to centre on attackers. Fortunately, enemy aircraft aren't terribly persistent, and will peel off before they've done major damage. The damage is cumulative though, so get them as soon as possible.

The pilot also has a gunsight which he can toggle on or off. Beware, though - while the sight is on the aircraft's controls are frozen. You can't fly and shoot at the same time....

Enemy aircraft are a natural target for your machine guns, but so are mines, U-Boats and E-Boats. In fact, the only thing that requires a torpedo is the Bismarck itself.

The navigator's view presents you with the strategy side of the game. A map of the area shows you where your carrier is, the positions of enemy aircraft, E-boats U-boats, mines - and even the Bismarck itself. You see while you're out to sink the German battleship, those Nazis are after the Ark Royal...

Night Render is a long way from a true flight sim, but as a mixture of arcade action and strategy it scores highly. At first, simply landing and taking off is enough of a challenge, while navigation - and the act of actually finding an enemy vessel in a huge tract of ocean - is a feat in itself.

One of five missions of varying difficulty can be selected. A couple have a list of objectives to be tackled in sequence while for the last - ominously - you're just told the situation and wished the best of luck...

There's enough here to keep you busy for quite a while. Even the easiest mission is a long way from being a pushover. You may eventually go on to crack the toughest missions, but it's not going to happen overnight. Purists will find fault with the realism, perfectionists will pick holes in the graphics, but you can bet they'll still want to play it.

Reviewer: Rod Lawton

Atari ST, £19.99dk, Out Now
Spec, £9.99cs, £12.99dk, Out Now
C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
IBM PC, £l9.99dk, Imminent
Amiga, £19.99dk, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 50/100
1 hour: 70/100
1 day: 80/100
1 week: 60/100
1 month: 30/100
1 year: 20/100

It gets you hooked early on, and it's tough enough not to let you go for quite a while. Eventually, you'll either crack it or lose interest.


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Slightly less playable than the ST version, if only due to the extremely sluggish gunsight control. The graphics are actually very good though if you can forgive the inevitable attribute clash. Sound... well, forget it. Otherwise, just as involving and enjoyable.


Pretty but basic graphics combine with mediocre sound to create an indifferent first impression. The lighting effects are nice though, and the whole thing is quite atmospheric. The disk swapping between missions is about the only really annoying feature.

Graphics: 6/10

Audio: 5/10

IQ Factor: 5/10

Fun Factor: 7/10

Ace Rating: 773/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 55/100

1 hour: 80/100

1 day: 90/100

1 week: 70/100

1 month: 50/100

1 year: 30/100

Screenshot Text

ATARI ST - There's one more Dornier shot down in flames. The circled crosshairs just below the fuselage are your pilots gun-sights. (Inset) SPEC - The engineer's view before take-off. You'll need full throttle, the mixture on its richest setting, fuel tank 1,2 or 3 selected and the wings locked.

ATARI ST - The map screen. That patch of yellow spots is a minefield - well out of the way; fortunately - but in the top left the Ark Royal is surrounded by two U-Boats and an E-Boat. You've also got, just off-screen, a flight of Dorniers heading your way. You're flying that red aircraft, which is going to have nowhere to land if your carrier gets sunk! The yellow cross in the middle of nowhere marks your compass alignment point - it's about the safest place on the map!