Sinclair User10th August 1988
Published in Sinclair User #80
Though not immediately apparent from its title, Lightning Simulator is in fact a flight simulator, or at least that is what it describes itself as. What it actually is is a rehash of the old PSION Flight Simulator with a new dogfighting catch and a built-in movie recording facility. All this for £1.99. Sounds like great value, but is it?
For a start, as a flight simulator, it falls short on realism by quite a long way. As there are no ground features other than runways and control towers (situated next to the runways) there is no feeling of movement. In fact, for a lot of the time, all you will see is a plain screen with a black rectangle at the bottom and a white or blue rectangle at the top. Or maybe not a rectangle. If I said this game was hard, I'd be selling myself short. Controlling this plane is bloody difficult. Not only is it amazingly difficult to manoeuvre, it's also frustratingly impossible to fly in a straight line. It just won't respond when you want it to, and you end up overcompensating a lot of the time.
Combat works quite well, I will say that. The vector graphics are quite fast and recognisable as what they are meant to represent. I.e. aircraft, tanks, etc. Unfortunately, there is very little in the way of reaction needed as far as the destruction of the enemy is concerned. The guns/missiles are automatically fired the moment the gunsight locks on. In the same instant, the cameras start rolling, and keep roiling as long as the bullets/ missiles are flying.I can see absolutely no point to the cameras whatsoever apart from giving you the option of seeing that ugly S.O.B. blow up in a cloud of triangles in glorious slowmoving-o-vision.
Just in case you're worried about the lack of variety in most flight simulators, then worry no more.
Lightning Simulator contains 6 basic missions, with lots of room to alter all the usual things like wind direction and strength as well as being able to add a cloud layer and varying amounts of tanks, just to add a little spice.
Lightning Simulator doesn't really make any impression in the Spectrum games market. It's not a bad simulator, but unplayability and lack of realism don't make it anything remarkable.
Yet another run-of-the-mill budget simulator. Not a dodo, but there is better.