Personal Computer News

Spitfire '40

Author: Mike Gerrard
Publisher: Mirrorsoft
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Personal Computer News #108


If you can't afford the £250,000 or so it would cost you to buy a real Spitfire in flying condition, you might be tempted to look at this somewhat cheaper simulation from Microsoft, whose original slogan of 'software for all the family' means the cockpit is likely to be rather crowded. I can't see would-be flyers clambering over each other to try it, though. It has some first-rate combat sequences but the actual flying controls are sluggish and jerky.

In fact, the only place where they're really hot is at the start, when the fire button allows you to choose from five pilots, then from three modes (practice, combat and combat practice), but response to the button is such that a slight touch puts you straight through into a practice session.

Would that the real controls were so fine. The space bar which switches you between cockpit view and instrument panel is particularly poor - several firm bashes are usually needed. When banking, the horizon-line jerks round in rather large lurches, and the landscape beneath your plane is very limited indeed. If you fly out over the sea, according to your cockpit view you're still over land. You're also allowed to fly beyond the edge of the map (of south-east England) but though you continue to fly, the map isn't updated.

Spitfire '40

Having listed the faults, there are still many good features in Spitfire '40. The cockpit instruments are beautifully done, and the software is well packaged. There are detailed instructions on landing and take-off procedures, and a great deal of background information too. The combat practice section allows you to almost forget about the controls and concentrate instead on manoeuvring and shooting - watch out for the enemy in your rear-view mirror.

If you can get up in the air and deal with the enemy in real combat, your status can be saved to allow you to work up through the ranks.

But for all its virtues (including excellent sound effects) Spitfire '40 looks better than it plays.

Mike Gerrard

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