IT'S WIZARD flying weather but we're in for a stormy ride. Goering has despatched the Luftwaffe and it looks as if the Battle of Britain is about to begin.
You must take on the task of organising Britain's air power. Churchill will be depending on you and will summon you to his bunker every evening expecting good results. If you lose the battle of the sky you will also lose your job.
Before the start of the game an icon driven menu is provided for the selection of joystick, keyboard and pulse rate. The pulse rate governs the speed at which the game plays and is entered as a number between one and 255. You must choose whether you want to play the one day option or a longer game. One day in the hot seat is best for the beginner who has to juggle with the duty rosters for all air bases in Britain, keep an eye on reports from radar stations and organise the positioning of flak guns.
Only then can you scramble air bases to take action against the enemy as they fly in over the coast.
A map of Britain is displayed and you can zoom in for a detailed look at any of the air bases under your control, by placing a cursor over the area in which it is located and pressing the fire button. An exploded view of the map will appear together with a status report which gives the type and number of aircraft at a base and the feelings of the pilots stationed there.
You can scramble a base by selecting the alarm bell icon. If aircraft are already flying you will be told so by the base commander but if not he will simply say: "Yes Sir!"
When a confrontation is imminent you will be prompted to enter an Aggression Factor ranging from one to six. That determines the ferocity of the fighting and the lengths to which your pilots and gunners will go to drive off the Germans.
After the smoke clears you get a status report from the base commander showing the number of casualties on both sides. A local alert, to bases in the area, combined with a high Aggression Factor is likely to cause severe casualties. Luckily, you can alert all bases on the south coast to aid a beleaguered area. That action, coupled with good flak support and an Aggression Factor of four or five should give the enemy plenty of trouble while keeping allied losses low.
As air crews are likely to get physically and emotionally worn out you will have to keep a fairly strict duty roster to keep them happy. They can reach the end of their tethers in just one day so imagine what a prolonged campaign could do to them.
You do not have to annihilate the Germans in order to win the game. Churchill will commend you for your strategic measures even if you destroy just a few of the enemy but keep them at bay. Winning is difficult but the first time you defeat the German armada you will feel that you have done something worthwhile. You will also feel exhausted.
Their Finest Hour is a strategy simulation which uses the same icon techniques as The Fourth Protocol, also from the Century Hutchinson stable. The package contains a booklet describing the war in the air together with a large scale map - everything you require to take you back to 1940.
Publisher: Century Communications Price: £9.95 Memory: 48K Joystick: Kempston