The Micro User1st January 1988
Published in The Micro User 5.11
All you lovers of those old World War II films can now train to become a Spitfire pilot with Spitfire '40, a new flight simulation game from Mirrorsoft. With plenty of practice, skill and good luck you can rise to the rank of Group Captain and be decorated with the VC, DSO and DFC.
On starting, you are presented with a list of five pilots' names from which you must select one - a logbook for the pilot is then displayed. This shows his name and rank, the number of flying hours, the number of victories and any medals awarded. In this section I would have preferred to be able to enter my own name.
Finally, a menu is displayed which shows the three game options. The first is Practice which enables you to learn how to fly a Spitfire without the worries of being shot at. A successful landing adds the flying hours to your log. Once you've got the hang of flying and landing, you can try your hand at aerobatics in preparation for combat.
Combat Practice places you in a situation where you can practice your fighting techniques, the point of this being that if you crash or are shot down, it does not count on your log so you do not lose any flying hours or gain any victories.
Once you've had enough practice, selecting Combat gives you your mission instructions. These tell you how many enemy planes there are and where they are situated in relation to the runway.
When airborne, you can have a map of the area you are flying over displayed. In Combat mode, the map will also show the position of the enemy planes, together with their height above ground.My favourite part of the game is the dogfight. I found it difficult to hit the enemy at first since it takes about a second for the shots to reach the point your sights were aimed at - success requires skill, anticipation and a bit of luck.
The graphics are a vast improvement on earlier flight simulators, and the instrument panel, ground and sky are all full colour. The sound is adequate and you can hear the pitch of the engines rise and fall dependent upon the amount of work you are making them do. There is also a warning tone if you go into a stall or are having other problems.
The game is fairly easy overall apart from the landing. The dogfights can be quite tense and the first time you destroy an enemy plane you get a real feeling of achievement.
The instruction manual is clear and tells you all you need to know about the game. Not only that, but it also gives a brief, but interesting, background history to the Spitfire and even includes a small bibliography of books for anyone wishing to learn more about this great aircraft.
The one thing I found lacking was that almost undefinable something which makes games addictive. I enjoyed playing it for short periods, but it isn't one of those I would automatically reach for when sitting down for a gaming session.