When I did my last batch of reviews, I was very impressed with Airline, which allowed me to run an airline company. This time I've been able to go one better and actually drive the plane! Well, drive my micro to be exact, but the adrenalin levels were running high enough because of this super implementation. I was fortunate enough to be able to try out both the BBC and Electron versions, both of which make fine use of the graphics and sound capabilities of the machines.
It has to be said at the outset that the BBC version is superior in a few minor details, but that is only to be expected as that machine has considerably better facilities as far as the sound is concerned, and this is a program where sound effects are vital to the overall effect. However, as far as screen display is concerned, the two versions are almost identical.
A cockpit view of the runway is shown when the 'take off' option is selected, and a 'dummy run' is written in the superb manual to help to make up for the feeling of panic as the end of the runway approaches. When take off is complete, the screen display above all the dials and switches etc. changes to an aerial view of the airfield and the place. Manoeuvres can be made easily once the controls are familiar, and the reaction times of the key presses are good. An instrument landing system can be used, and I found it invaluable in deciding where to crash! Eventually I decided to practise my landing via that option on the menu, and this concentrated reinforcement at last paid off. I'd written off so many planes before that the first safe landing was made to loud yells of triumph. The runway display obviously reappears for the landing procedures.
The cockpit controls are extensive, clear and well labelled. It is surprising how quickly one becomes familiar with altimeters, artificial horizons and so on. Colour is employed modestly but to good advantage, and there is a system of warning lights should the speed, altitude or other factor vary beyond allowed limits.
On the sound side, the Electron merely has audible key responses, although these are vital in an emergency. The BBC on the other hand has separate questions for keypresses and engine noise. The latter changed pitch most realistically as power altered, but could become rather wearing after a while. There are also slight differences on the landing lights and on the messages once the plane was down. One option I particularly liked was the Day/Night flight.
I could go on about this program for a long time, so let me just say this if you have a BBC or an Electron, go out and buy it!