Do you remember the days when men were men? The days when things were done properly? The days when Pinky might lean over to old Johnny, take a sip on his G & T, glance out of the NAAF! Window and casually remark:
"I say Johnny old sport, isn't that bally Hun I can see flitting towards our airspace? Damned important blighters! Better take the old kite up and show that Baron chappie a few manners!"
Well I'd be highly surprised if any of you do. But I'm sure there are quite a few of you who shouldn't mind trying your hand aerial frolics in a new strategy game.
The game's tactical roots are lifted from the work of a Chinese geezer called Sun Tzu, who some 2,500 years ago wrote a book which even now is regarded as one of the best texts on military tactics. Not that there's any need to get yourself a copy, as War in the Skies comes equipped with a manual that's in-depth, to say the least.
Anyway, on with the game. You're in charge of an airforce full of First World War bombers and fighters. The net result is strategic air conflict, with your successes and failures having an effect on the ensuing land battles. The ultimate objective is to push back the enemy troops by bombarding their back-up supply lines.
There are a wide variety of options to select from, whether it be a simple training exercise or some extremely complex conflict from World War I. In fact, the programmers have thrown in a "time tunnel" option enabling you to pit your wits against the French at Agincourt and a whole host of other foes from the vortex of time.
You can also select who you are going to pit your wits against, as the name contains an option which enables you to fight a general - whose tactical philosphies vary - of your choice.
Having chosen the campaign that tickles your fancy, you are presented with the main game screen. This is represented using an overhead view of the battlefield.
You control an icon which when dragged to the edge of the screen scrolls the game through six screens, enables you to view an feature relevant to the game, as well as plotting the flights of your flimsy bombers.
So the first thing you're going to want to do is to fetch your Handley-
The next priority is to set your flight orders. These include such choices as altitude, speed, flight formation and of course the target. It all sounds easy enough and in terms operation it is; the complications that arise are purely tactical.
For example, it is oh-so-easy to set your altitude incorrectly, then come time for the wild blue yonder and your brave boys plough into the side of the Alps.
So having selected which part of the front you have designs on decimating, it's over to your Amiga, which automatically handles all of the action unless you wish to interevene and decide your pilot's fate.
This is really where the game transcends from one genre to another. Having so far being totally strategy-
Dog fighting over the skies of France is viewed from the side. This sounds a very simplistic system to employ for a strategy-
The graphics are nothing outstanding for the Amiga, but are presented well enough. The animation technique is pretty clever though, with the plane able to replicate most of the classic aerobatic manoeuvres, from immelmans to a half Cuban eight - sounds odd stuff that!
The other nice touch is that the expertise of the enemy pilots varies, from the finely-
Dependent upon the outcome of the fracas with your fighters, the next arcade sequence puts you in control of the rear gunner on your bomber, fending off those pesky Fokkers. This works using the same side view as dog fighting and to all intents and purposes has the same feel to it, the only difference being that your bomber is rather more clumsy and vulnerable.
Assuming you've done well enough to fight off the relentless enemy triplanes then it's bombs away in this sub-game you are presented with the bombardier's view looking down at terra firma through your bomb-
This aspect of the action is very tough. Not only are circumstances made difficult by cloud and wind, but also ground-
Matters are made worse by the fact that your bombs have a sickening tendency to drift - in my case normally away from the target - making it tough if not impossible to successfully destroy enemy installations.
In most cases during a campaign, if success is what you'd like to taste, it's probably better to let the computer take charge of your destiny.
However, it's a sweet feeling when you fill the opposition with bullets from Blighty and see them nose-dive down into no man's land.
Overall, War in the Skies is rather successful, well thought-out strategy game. The enemy don't lie down easily, they react with guile and aggression, making for difficult, yet addictively compulsive war gaming. This is nicely transposed by the arcade sections which are, quite frankly, spiffing good fun!
The downside of all this - like most good things there has to be one - is that the sound is rather limited and a little puny. But for more annoying is the number of disk swaps one is subjected to during loading.
That aside, War in the Skies is a fine foray into aerial strategy and combat. For all would-be tacticians out there it's sure to be a wanner, but there's plenty enough within the game to keep us lesser mortals, who like blasting things into small pieces, quite satiated.