A.C.E. (Cascade Games) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

By Cascade
Commodore 64

Published in Commodore User #27


Most of the best flight simulators are a compromise between cockpit realism and entertaining, playable action. ACE (Air Combat Emulator) seems to have found the right balance very nicely indeed.

The depiction of the cockpit may not be as stunning as Spitfire 40, or Dambusters, the outside views may be a little crude, but the action itself is fast, compulsive and full of variety.

Perched behind the controls of an unidentified high performance jet, your mission is to wipe out an entire invasion force of tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, helicopter gunships, jet fighters and an off-shore fleet. To do this, you need to develop a host of skills: taking off and landing, refuelling in mid-air, dogfights, correct targeting of ground forces, and avoiding missiles and anti-aircraft fire.


Each of these is pretty involved. For example, mid-air refuelling requires you to manoeuvre behind a tanker plane at precisely its altitude and velocity. In dogfights you have the option of using cannon or air-to-air missiles and must make constant use of the special radar facility which indicates the precise position of the enemy craft. Missiles can either by outmanoeuvred or thrown off course by use of a limited number of flare decoys.

The instrument panel very effectively tells you all you need to know. As well as the radar screen, there are thrust, velocity and altitude gauges, a compass, roll and pitch indicators, a rear view camera and weapons selector. There's also a score indicator - an example of the sensible way the program won't take the constraints of reality too far.

Should you find all this information still doesn't stop you being shot down or running out of fuel, you have the option of trying to guide the plane back over allied territory and ejecting. You can then continue the battle in another aircraft.

One of the program's main assets is its sound. Not only are there very realistic aircraft and battle noises, there's also speech, which is used by your onboard computer to say things like "Missile warning" and "Low altitude". Although the speech is fairly crude, it does sound remarkably like aircraft cockpit radiospeak, thereby adding considerably to the atmosphere. And for once it isn't a gimmick - the speech gives you important information.

Until now, Cascade Games have made their money sending out mail order tapes stuffed with vast numbers of pretty lousy programs. This is an impressive entry into the world of real software. It's a bit expensive but you do get a watch into the bargain.

Chris Anderson

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