Dambusters (US Gold/Sydney) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

Zzap


Dambusters
By U. S. Gold
Commodore 64

 
Published in Zzap #2

Dambusters

Strap on your goggles and leather helmet and take to the skies in a glorious flight simulation game where you have to blow up dams.

The raid is one from the Second World War which has been immortalised in film, and now on the 64. Your task is to drop a single 'bouncing' bomb and blow up a dam at night. However, dropping the bomb is the easy bit, getting to the dam across occupied Europe in the dark is what's really tough.

The whole burden of the raid rests on you - you do the jobs of all seven crew members. You can choose one of three missions of increasing difficulty. The practice dam run lets you just do the bomb run without any ground-based opposition to fly over.

The other two missions are much harder, starting you on the French coast and a British airfield respectively. This gives you much longer and tougher flights to complete, with a take off required from Britain in the 'squadron leader' option.

When you're in the air you have seven instrument screens to control, plus an extra one on the squadron leader mission. Each of these represents a member of the crew, except for a status screen which shows you your damage and success against the enemy defences.

Each screen is accessed by a number on the keyboard, the most important being the "Pilot" where you actually fly the plane. Here you control compass direction, the plane's banking, height, and also an airspeed indicator. This screen shows the terrain you are flying over: either blue streaks for sea or yellow dots (lights) for land. Searchlights, barrage balloons, night fighters and flak appear here, and except for the flak you can shoot these on the "Front" and "Tail Gunner" screens. These feature tracer fire, which looks and sounds excellent.

The "Bomb Aimer" screen is used to set your altitude precisely in the final bombing run (see panel), while the "Navigator" shows a six-screen map of Europe including your Lancaster and lots of ground installations like population, military, industrial, airport and radar centres, as well as the three dams. The map helps you to guide the bomber away from the main danger areas on its way to the dam.

The other main screen is the "Engineer", in which you control the throttles and boosters for your four engines to maintain speed. A second screen is introduced for the SQUADRON LEADER, so that you have to watch fuel and also use the flaps and undercarriage on take-off.

The instructions come with some weighty briefing notes which are needless but interesting. The sound effects are realistic and atmospheric. One disappointment was the lack of a scoring system and the fact that after you'd crashed you couldn't access any instruments to see exactly why.

GP

Excluding Super Huey, this is the only flight simulator to have really appealed to me in any way. The effect on flying was pretty poor, but the excellent attention to detail on the inside of the plane made up for that. Successfully destroying the dam is easy enough on the practice dam run. Flying over Europe, avoiding enemy fire before getting to the dam is incredibly difficult, frustrating and off-putting, though.

BW

This is a great combination of flight simulator and action, although the opposition is incredibly tough over the land. The lack of a score is annoying, as is the finality of the crash, but these are minor points in a tremendously tough challenge. This won't be an easy mission to complete, but it will be one of the most satisfying there is.

JR

Very impressive, with a superb Lancaster Bomber sound. A nice touch graphically is a view of the lights from towns and cities as you fly over. Instrument panels are excellently drawn, but seem lacking in movement. Having great instant appeal, this should be a commercial success but I think it could get rather boring in time.

Bombing The Dam

Once you are within range there are a number of factors which have to be set exactly in order to successfully bomb the dam. A blue marker will appear on the speedometer and the needle must cover it exactly. Your height must also be exact and a special bomb aimer screen lets you gauge this.

Once you are below 100 feet it allows you to turn on two spotlights which when perfectly overlapping mean you are at the right height. With that done you can get the bomb rotating, and when it is up to speed, sights will appear on the front gunner's screen. When these line up with the dam's towers you should release the bomb.

The bomb is now seen skimming across the water and a successful drop will blow a huge hole in the dam through which water will pour. If you miss, you will be told what you did wrong.

Verdict

Presentation 85%
Stunning package and impact, but lacks any scoring.

Originality 73%
A flight simulator with a difference.

Graphics 80%
The still graphics are superbly atmospheric.

Hookability 90%
Huge appeal thanks to the great graphics, superb feel.

Sound 70%
Not too many effects, but what there are are superb.

Lastability 73%
The squadron leader mission will take a lot of cracking.

Value For Money 78%
An excellent program and certain commercial success. Slightly tarnished by a couple of annoying quirks.

Overall 78%

The White Wizard

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