You may remember that we already printed a review of The Dam Busters last month. You may also remember a statement in that issue, rushed in at the last minute, saying that our copy had turned out to have bugs in it (thereby rendering a couple parts of the review, including the ratings, a little inaccurate).
That's why we're now printing this addition to that review and a revised ratings box. However, the discovery of the bugs was interesting in itself. This is what happened.
We (and Commodore User) were given pre-production copies of the game by US Gold. When we first saw it, like everyone else, we were stunned. Great graphics, superb authentic atmosphere, etc. But after extensive play, certain frustrations set in: you seemed to die at random after being hit by a single piece of flak, and when you died there was nothing to indicate why, or how well you'd done. You just had to start again.
We passed on these criticisms to US Gold. They contacted the programmers in Canada who then telephoned us in some dismay for further explanation.
It was only as a result of that phone conversation that it was established that our copy (along with the others in Britain) was seriously defective. Unfortunately at that stage we only had time to rush in our stop press statement. But now we've had plenty of time to assess the fully working, final version of the game which was rushed over from Canada.
Basically, two major niggles have been cleared up - you no longer die from single flak hits, and the game doesn't just lock up on dying. The flak now only causes gradual damage so that you may eventually lose an engine or two, thus affecting the plane's performance.
And now, when you die you are given a screen showing your status when you died with numbers of flak hits, planes shot and encountered, searchlights shot and flown through, and barrage balloons shot or avoided. You are also told exactly why you died.
Another thing that wasn't evident in the earlier copy is that your front and tail gunners can be put out of action by the night fighters. A hail of bullets shatters their screens and you are left with the noise of the whistling wind. You also don't have an infinite runaway any more, and almost perfect take-offs are required.
So, basically, the game is now significantly more interesting and enjoyable to play: we have been able to reach the dam from Scampton airfield, slipping up only on the final bomb run due to having a damaged aircraft.
A couple of minor annoyances remain: there's still no score or rating given at any stage. And on the cassette version, when you drop the bomb you don't see it skipping across the water or exploding, but only a cross marked on the dam showing where the bomb would have hit.
Despite this, we reckon the game's worth a few extra percentage points, and thereby clears the 80% barrier value for money, turning it into a worthy sizzler. Sorry for the confusion, but one good result is that the bugs we experienced were stamped out before the game's British release.
Good, but not quite as stunning a package as we were expecting.
A flight simulator with a difference.
Graphics are superbly atmospheric.
Huge appeal thanks to the great graphics, superb feel.
Not many effects but engine noise and machine guns are superb.
The whole mission will take a lot of cracking.
Value For Money 81%
An excellent program bound to appeal to many tastes.