US Gold Ltd
1986
Simulation
£8.99
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Alkatraz Protection System

44
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

January, 1943. British pride and guts - lots of guts - are needed if you want to become a WW2 Top Gun. Hermann Goering, commander of Germany's Luftwaffe, has proclaimed than no Brit 'planes can bomb Berlin. You've got to prove him wrong.

Strangely enough, Berlin doesn't figure too strongly in this game. You've got three missions plus a practice mode that enables you to get the hang of your RAF Mosquito bomber. Unfortunately, each mission has to be loaded separately, and that can take 20 minutes during which time you have to sit by the Spectrum to make sure that the right segment is loading.

The targets are Nazi bombers, U-Boats and POW trains that are on their way to Berlin: You also have to outrun VI missiles. You view each mission from the cockpit where - as in US Gold's Dambusters - you must take on the role of pilot, navigator gunner and bomb door operator. There the similarities between the two games end. Ace of Aces has better graphics, more action and less strategy than its little brother.

Each mission starts above the clouds. If you're looking for enemy bombers you just move the stick left and right until a dot appears on the radar, then draw it to the centre of the circle where it will appear before you in the sky. If you have trouble spotting it you can switch your view and look out of the left and right cockpit windows. The graphics for these side windows are fantastic. You can see the 'plane's wings and propellors, and the clouds roll in an almost continual slip stream. Don't spend too much time looking out the windows. The Mosquito has a complex control system and if you take your eyes off the dials for too long you could end up spinning into the ground or over heating your engines.

The enemy's 'planes aren't dummies. They will tempt you to dangerously low altitudes and force you to run after them in the hope that your engines will catch fire. Nazi bombers can also turn on you and put bullets through the Mosquito's windscreen. Pilot death and crashes into the ground are the most frequent ways in which the game ends.

The weapons you select at the start of each mission depend upon the types of target you're likely to encounter. If you're after other bombers small rockets and cannon shells are the best bet, while the heavier bombs should be used for larger targets as trains and U-Boats.

Maps at the beginning of the game show the positions of rail tracks and the likely submarine haunts. Targets don't turn up conveniently when you fly into enemy territory, especially if they're not combat capable.

You've got to hunt for them and that, next to the long loading period, is likely to irritate you if you're looking for the instant excitement of Gauntlet or even Top Gun. Bear with these irritations, it's not as if they are irrelevant - they allow you to play a larger, more complicated game. Once the action starts you'll look back on the quiet moments with affection.

World War Two has proved to be a popular topic for the top software houses, but it's unlikely that anyone will beat Ace of Aces for some time it's smooth realistic graphics and the difficulties of finding and destroying Nazi war machines far outweigh the unwieldy physical structure of the game. WW2 'plane simulations don't come much better.

Label: US Gold
Author: Artech Digital Productions
Price: £8.99
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

****

A big improvement on US Colds Dambusters. The graphics and game play are as realistic as you could wish.

4/5