There is now quite a good selection of flight simulators available for the Spectrum, all of varying quality. Most of them require you to take off, have a bit of a saunter about perhaps over some mountains and then make your way home before you run out of gas. Red Arrows is very much a flight simulator, but your main task is to fly with the Red Arrows, performing complex and difficult formation displays.
The Red Arrows perform a large range of manoeuvres during their displays and this game lets you run through four of the formations in their repertoire with them. One further option allows you to go out on a solo flight which gives you the opportunity to familiarise yourself with both the aircraft's controls and its response.
A training mode allows you to fly any of the five options, and offers guidance via instructions displayed at the top of the screen which help you keep up with the rest of the formation. If you find it too difficult to cope with all of the controls, the computer can be told to take care of the steering or the thrust, but you score is adjusted accordingly when you 'cheat'. The ultimate aim of the game is to learn to fly well enough to be able to take part in any of the displays unaided theno you score according to your performance.
From your cockpit you can see the other team members. (Well, those directly in front and slightly to port and starboard of you anyway.) More often that not, this means you yet to see a great deal of other aircraft's exhaust ports which can be unnerving. The cockpit instruments are pretty standard and include brake, flap and undercarriage indicators. The all important thrust bar is alongside the panel housing the altitude, rate of ascent and velocity indicators. The other large panel is unique to this particular game since it gives a picture of the shape of the current display formation, with your position indicated by a flashing dot. The same display can also show the pattern of the current manoeuver.
Two further panels show the degree of roll and angle of climb or descent that your aircraft is experiencing. During the display instructions from Red One will scroll along the bottom line of the screen. It's here that you find out what the next formation is and, more importantly, exactly when you must change to it. If you find yourself out on a limb or over another airfield you can return to the formation by pressing a single key but the cost is the loss of your score up to that point.
With the manual that comes with the game there are details of a competition in which you can win a weekend with the Red Arrows, and who knows, if you get good enough at this game them perhaps they might let you fill in for one of the pilots.
'I think the idea of a flight simulator based around the antics of what must the World's most renowned display team is a very sound idea indeed. The trouble with a lot of simulators is that they simply don't give you enough to do (I do not include Digital Integration's Fighter Pilot in that class). Sadly, I have to conclude that, on the whole, I am not very impressed with this game. I'm sure that the package could have been put together a lot better. The graphics are pretty bad. The background is either blue or green, and there are no landmarks on the ground even during take off. You are given no indication, apart from the instruments, that you are really moving. The view of the other aircraft is quite good except, when one of them breaks the boundary between Earth and Sky (blue and green), it appears to disintegrate. My last complaint concerns the speed at which the program works. It took me fifty one seconds to do a complete barrel roll. At a speed of 200 Knots that meant I travelled nearly four miles -not a very tight performance to say the least. The speed is perhaps the greatest let down. Without that fast reaction and high degree of manoeuvrability for which the Hawk is famed, this game may as well be based around a microlight display team. Generally disappointing'
'I am not very keen on flight simulators. I find them far too annoying and drawn out. The Red Arrows is no exception. However its saving grace is the idea around which it is designed, and at least when you're up in the sky you are kept very busy indeed. Flying in a formation is very difficult, and performing all sorts of aerial stunts makes Oe task almost impossible. I land the aircraft very difficult to handle, mostly because it responded so badly. I dare say the flight simulator freaks may have a little fun with this but I would rather leave it alone'
'The idea behind this game is quite a good one, but there was very little to hold my interest. When 'flying' solo you are faced by a green and blue screen with a few boring dials, and even flying with the Red Arrows, the only additions are some red shapes that could be planes if your imagination was good enough. The actual play is slow and uninteresting - when I first started I found it difficult to tell whether the computer was in control or I was. In fact one of the down with his parachute after a crash. I am sorry that this latest offering from Database is not as polished or as valuable as their last program, Mini Office.'
: works best with KempstonKeyboard play
: complex and slowUse of colour
: limited to threeGraphics
: could be a lot betterSound
: noneSkill levels
: N/AGeneral Rating:
A great deal more could have been made of the idea.
The rear view of three (or is it four) Red Arrows, in Database's game of the same name. RED ARROWS that is. Bet they don't have 'Caution - Show Dogs in Transit' stickers in THEIR rear windows...