Now and again something is released for the Amiga that quite simply is too complicated for us mere mortals at Gamer Towers to handle. In this case it is Dogfight and with a name like that, it does not come as much of a shock to disvoer that it is the latest release from the kings, neigh gods of the simulation racket, MicroProse.
Billed as absolutely huge by their PR-type sausage Jason "Take That" Dutton, we felt that reviewing this product should be handled by someone who has both respect and experience from the flying and buying public.
So it is a great honour for me to hand you over to flight simulation's great stunt and fighter pilot Spunky Plusfours, who we now join on the runway.
"Well hello, it is your resident fighter ace, good old spunky here, who today sits before you at the controls of one of my all time fave kits, the bally Sopworth Camel".
"Before we go any further, I should just like to say a big hello and cuddles to Ginger and Chalky who I know will be in the mess room of our club right now enjoying a bit of a tipple".
"Anyway, you join me in glorious sunshine with blue cloudless skies, so it should be a spiffing flight with some super rough and tumble against me old arch rival the baron. I shall now taxi down the tarmac and get my kite off terra firma".
So saying, Spunky guns the engine on his beloved Sopworth and waits for the crackle of the ignition, and finally the propeller jumps into life. Minutes later, Spunky is airborne. Teeth gritted, flying helmet in place, scarf flowing and moustache perfectly groomed, Spunky launches into the best Raymond Baxter-type air show narrative:
"The Camel has the glorious distinction of having destroyed more enemy craft than any other combat plane. I myself have been responsible for a good many of them I can tell you. Developed in 1916 it is capable of 170km/h and can climb a... I say what the bally nora's that?"
Spunky's questions are soon answered as a glistering metallic dart booms past his wooden flying machine rocking it to its very fabric. The noise is tremendous as Spunky's gritted teeth and steely eye turn to a look of absolute astonishment.
"What the blooming hell is that? A spaceship? What is going on air traffic control? Am is supposed to take on that wretched contraption? Where is the bloomin' Fokkers... Don't say El Barony is in that thing?".
Before Spunky can ask many more of the many questions that are swimming around his confused brain, he notices in his rear view mirror a rather ominous sight. Said unidentified craft is on his tail and closing at an incredible rate of knots. As Spunky attempts to outmanoeuvre the craft as only a wily fix of his calibre can, he notices something that stops him in his tracks.
"Cor blimey, that silly sausage is letting off fireworks at..."
But before he can finish this rather premature and foolish statement, three metres of the finest US hardware, the AIM-9L Sidewinder laser-guided missile, have snaked into the rump of Spunky's ill-begotten fuselage. Then there follows a real firework display as bits of Spunky and the Camel descend earthwards to rapturous applause and cries of "Bravo!" from the ground crew.
Well, not all of Spunky has been recovered as yet, but we are reliably informed that he will live to fly another simulator soon - after all, he is only a computer-generated character and you cannot hurt them for very long.
Anyway, Spunky's endeavours beautifully illustrate the whole concept of Dogfight, which is to allow you to engage in aerial combat in a range of jets and planes which span an era of 80 years.
The first thig to be said is that Dogfight marks a departure for MicroProse. For the first time they have swung away from the accuracy angle which they have their benchmark, and developed a more thrills-and-spills fun simulator.
In Dogfight you are presented with three main options which decide what type of flight of fancy you are going to take part in. The first choice for you to deliberate over is whether to engage in Duel Mode. This is possibly the quickest way to get airborne and taste air Combat. In Duel Mode you are provided with a choice of six historical eras and two typical opposing craft from that time. You can for example, choose to be - like Spunky - and take on the Hun in your Sopworth Camel.
Alternatively, career forward in time and re-enact the Falkland War or the Syrian conflict in more modern jets like the Harrier or the F-16.
The next option for your perusal is the What If? mode. This option allows you to engage in combat to the death in aircraft from different times. This means you can pit your wits against a MiG-21 from the 50s in a World War II Spitfire. In all there are 12 different planes for you to experiment with and you are not just limited to a one-on-one confrontation. Once you start to get to grips with controlling the planes and gain confidence, you can take on up to five enemy craft at the same time.
The other option for you to scratch your chin over is where on earth you are going to carry out your aerial fracas. You can choose from seven different worldwide hot-spots including Vietnam, Korea and of course the hottest spottiest of them all, the Middle East.
As is that was not enough, there is yet another option which is actually the very core of Dogfight. The Mission option allows you to enact full-blown scenarios from all of the conflicts previously described.
In this option you also have the choice of deciding what type of mission to embark upon. Perhaps you would like to patrol around the Dover coast defending our shores from the might of the German Luftwaffe? Conversely you may prefer the blood and thunder of a search and destroy raid deep in the Korean jungle.
Overall it is very hard not to be impressed with Dogfight. It is absolutely huge in proportions and initially there will be plenty to keep you occupied. With the number of missions to choose from and the variety of scenarios to enjoy, I am not sure whether you will ever need another flying game.
Graphically Dogfight is good. The planes have quite a lot of detail about them and even feature such luxuries as wing markings. The only sacrifice I noticed was in the ground detail, but on the whole this does not affect Dogfight's playability.
On the whole the planes move accurately as you would expect them to. As usual with MicroProse, the horizontal screen updates are quick and smooth and give an impression of flight.
There are also some nice little extra touches that make Dogfight that little bit sweeter to play. For one you get more than enough external angles and zoom facilities to muck about with. On Dogfight however, you can also exercise this whim on your parachuting pilot as he floats to the ground. Another nice touch is when you fly at the sun you suffer sun blindness and the screen goes white as you lose vision. Add the customary configuration screen, the normal phone book size manual and a modem link up for head to heads, and you have quite a lot of simulator.
Dogfight may not find too many friends with the purist flight simulator club because of a few shortcuts MicroProse have taken to make it more playable. For example, the majority of jets have different head-up displays; for ease of use they have been standardised.
However, if you are not too bothered about slight artistic licence and want to enjoy a very fine flight simulator that is full to the brim with excitement and action, then Dogfight is definitely the one for you.