Cascade's original Ace was the ultimate in air combat simulations for those who just wanted a good blast and weren't too worried about the details. Let's face it, when you're seriously into the business of letting rip with the old heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles the last thing you want to worry about is whether you left the undercarriage down, or forgot to trim the flaps.
So concerned are Cascade that the everyday mediocre tasks associated with flying (like taking off and landing and keeping the plane in the air) might spoil your enjoyment, they've gotten rid of them altogether. Should you inadvertently smash into the ground at 600mph - the kind of thing that can only be avoided by tedious attention to the instruments - you can pretend it just didn't happen. The purists can switch off the cheat option if they so desire.
It's not only the conveniently forgotten realities of aerodynamics that makes Ace 2 different, this is a two player game. You can, of course, battle with a computer-controlled adversary as is the case with most of the air combat simulators around, but Ace 2 gives you the opportunity to kill your friends as well. That sounds pretty appealing, doesn't it? It's also a bit confusing to begin with because there is two of everything on the screen which is divided horizontally so both pilots can see what's going on.
The instrument panel and cockpit view for plane one occupies the top half of the screen, with that for plane two below it. Apart from slight variances in detail of the instrument panel, both planes are identical. Each is armed with a cannon which has a range of a mile, heat-seeking missiles with an eight mile range and radar-guided missiles which are effective up to 25 miles. The planes also carry chaff and flares which can be dropped at an opportune moment to decoy incoming missiles. The joystick us used to manoeuvre in the usual way i.e. dive/climb and roll. Each player has a separate block of keys controlling power, weapon selection and map.
A 'dogfight' option is available, but there is more to the game than sluggish it out with air-to-air missiles. The country of plane one has sent a ship to spy on the country of plane two - a desert country with a western coastline. Naturally enough, country Two isn't too happy about this at all and sends out a plane to destroy the spy ship. Country One does just what you'd expect and sends an aircraft carrier to destroy Plane One and the radar station it was spying on in the first place. This scenario is about the only thing in the game that by any stretch of the imagination approximates to real life.
So as well as shooting down all of your opponent's planes you must attack and destroy the radar station on the aircraft carrier, depending on whose side you are on. This is probably a lot easier if you're playing a friend, as the computer is mercilessly accurate. As soon as it's within range it lets rip with radar guided missiles and before you know it you're scattered about the hemisphere. You can make things easier on yourself by setting the skill level to one (it goes up to 20). Other variants are the number of planes each side can start with, crash detection (on or off) and number of missile hits required for a kill. You can also choose what weapons you will carry before setting out on a mission.
A useful trick I discovered is to set crash detection off and land on the sea. This renders your plane impervious to enemy missiles - all your opponents can do is circle until their fuel runs low. You can then take off and give chase - it's much easier. [Cheat! - Ed]
There will undoubtedly be the purists who put down this kind of thing because it's not true to life. So what? Realism isn't everything. If it was, flight simulators would say things like "you can't fly today because there's a strike at the airport", or "you haven't got time, your dinner's ready in half an hour". So as far as I'm concerned there's nothing wrong with that. Having said that, almost too much is taken for granted. To land, you just fly off the edge of the map and you're down.
I'm not saying Ace 2 is too easy, the combat is really hard, but a five year old could fly the thing. Nonetheless it does give you the chance to match yourself against a human opponent and on that basis alone it's in a class of its own.