Ace Of Aces
The Mosquito (the plane, not the insect) has starred in many a daring WWII film. Now US GOLD offers you a chance to try your hand at one of the oddest and most successful flying machines in the Allied arsenal.
Built almost entirely from wood, the Mosquito was heavily armed, fast, and quite manoeuvrable for its size. II was used whenever a few tons of high explosives delivered accurately would be more use than a lot of TNT spread all over the place.
To become an ace of aces, you must show your ability at flying four different sorts of missions: bomber interception, V1 flying bomb interception, U-Boat Pen bombing and train busting.
The program loads in two parts.
First, decisions are made as to what missions, or combination of missions, are to be flown, and the Mosquito needs to be armed accordingly. An intelligence screen is displayed, giving directions of targets and likely opposition. Armament consists of cannon, rockets, bombs and drop tanks (to extend the range of the bomber). As much armament as desired can be loaded, but the plane becomes less responsive as it is weighed down.
After selecting mission and armament, the next section of the game is loaded.
Five screens control the Mosquito. In the cockpit is the joystick and forward-firing cannon and rockets. Instruments show attitude, heading, speed and attitude. There's also a radar screen showing attacking enemy craft and their relative height. A diagram of the plane is present on all the screens warning the pilot of any problems on other screens.
Two screens look out over either wing. These control the engines. Throttle and boost controls adjust propeller speed and pitch, making the plane go faster or slower. Flaps and undercarriage can be raised or lowered to suddenly change the plane's speed and shake off attackers. The trim control is used if one of the engines has packed up. It 'feathers' the prop and prevents the machine from going round in circles. There's also a fire extinguisher to be used if an engine catches fire and has to be doused - however this puts the engine out of commission.
A map screen shows the Mosquito's position and that of any targets to be attacked. The bomb bay screen is used during bombing missions. When the bomb bays are opened, targets can be seen below you. To bomb a target, the plane's speed is reduced to 100 knots and height to 1000 feet. Then, when the target is visible through the bomb bay doors, a cross hair is moved over the target and the bombs dropped.
Except for the control stick on the first screen, all controls are used by moving a dot cursor over the appropriate icon - using left and right keys, then holding the fire button down and using the up and down control keys.
After completing a mission, the Mosquito heads back home. There is no landing sequence, you just have to fly over the home base. Points are scored for targets destroyed and any spare ammo brought safely home.
Control keys: 1-4 selects view; M map, O left, P right, Q up, A down, X fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: bland but functional
Graphics: atmospheric skyscapes, and detailed cockpit interior
Sound: Good spot effects
Skill levels: one
'US GOLD have taken the two aspects of Spectrum gaming that I hate most, flight aims and multi-load, and created one of those totally unplayable horrid games. Ace of Aces is further sullied by difficulty, it is extremely hard to get Into. Even if you do manage to get involved, the gameplay isn't enough to keep even the most avid player bashing away for long. The graphics are fairly good, the sense of motion created by sheets of clouds scrolling forward works very well. I can't really recommend this - It's too much money for too little gameplay.'
'What is this game trying to be? The Top Gun of the 1940s? It's well presented, but lacks any substance or addictiveness. I really liked the idea of having the commander pointing out your options at the beginning - although it's a pity you only get one chance to pick your controls. Once the launch sequence is over I found that you had to do very little else in the game. Shooting down the enemy is easy to get used to - in fact the only bit of fun is putting out fires on the wing. Ace of Aces doesn't contain enough to make it worth playing for more than a few days.'
'This product isn't bad, if not exactly legendary. The graphics are quite neat; the clouds flying past and under you are very well done. The cloud barrier is something often lacking from flight sims and it really adds realism. The various missions on offer give more addictivity than you'd find in most aims, but the multi-load system soon becomes a pain. That said, US GOLD have finally picked up on the potential of Dambusters, and made a much more playable game. Worth looking at if you haven't already got 50 thousand flying games on your shelf...'