Life can sometimes be quite startling, can't it? Why, only the other day I looked in my rear view mirror at some traffic lights and saw none other than inspector Morse in the car behind. Well, OK, it wasn't really inspector Morse. He was driving an Austin Allegro for one thing. And he had red hair and a beard. But the initial similarity was quite alarming. Then there was the time when I dialled a wrong number and accidentally rang up Mother Theresa.
"Hello," said I, "Is that Mr Crispies Dial-
"Do you know what time it is?" grumbled an old lady's voice.
"You mean this isn't Mr Crispies Dial-
"No, it's flippin' Mother Theresa" said the voice and hung up. Uncanny, eh?
But these startling events pale into insignificance alongside the sheer palpitation-
The game comes with a poster-
Shuttle is perhaps the most detailed and in-depth sim ever in the entire history of the universe. Every single knob and switch that's in the real thing is lovingly recreated here. Well, probably. I'm not about to start counting them. The reason for this is that the shuttle is a million times more complex than any aircraft and so needs squillions of controls to prove it.
You can't just open the doors up in space, y'know. Instead you have to activate all the relevant motor mechanisms, seal valves and other techie-
And yet despite te unprecedented hugeness of it all, it's not that difficult to get into. 'Tis true. The programmers have thoughtfully included a load of helpful features to show you the ropes.
Because, let's face it, even the most experienced flight sim addict would be entering stormy waters with this game.
So, you can redefined loads of options to suite your experience level. If you don't want to go through all the pre-
You can also have plenty of help during the mission. On the easiest help level, the computer shows you exactly what to do and which buttons to press so there's really no way you can go wrong.
As you get better and start to remember what buttons do what, then start to reduce the Help level and slowly set out on your own. Me? I'm still clinging to the help option for dear life.
But even so, there's an incredible feeling of achievement as you start to see the shuttle responding to your commands. Even the most difficult missions can be carried out with the computer leading the way so anyone should be able to get something done.
The missions are all either based on real shuttle missions from the past, or speculative ones based on current technology. So you could recreate the very first shuttle test flight, or launch the hilariously crap Hubble telescope, or even take part in a space station project. Wowsers!
With a game of this size, you'd expect it to come on about seven disks and for everything to trundle along at a speed not unlike Dougal from the Magic Roundabout. Well, two disks is all it takes and the graphics are smooth and detailed.
Especially nice is the way you can watch Earth slowly revolve beneath you. All the continents go past and night and day light up the planet just like real life. The "feel" of being in space is astounding. I'm sure it's really good for your karma, or something. Dead peaceful.
The weird thing is, there's no clear objective to the game. There's no overall goal other than the ones you set for yourself. Maybe you won't sleep until you can launch a spy satellite all by yourself without any help at all, or perhaps you'd be chuffed to just land the shuttle without crashing. Either way, it's a great way to spend a few hours.
Yep, a few hours. Suttle is not the quickest game in the world. The 3D and so on is very smooth and fast, but you can't just zip into orbit, dump a satellite and nip back again. Everything takes a while in space, so this is not a game for those who demand constant excitement.
Or indeed, any excitement at all. Shuttle is not an exciting game, it's an intriguing and demanding simulator. It's not even a game as such, more like a learning experience. You constantly get better at following the mission instructions, and should eventually be able to go from one control panel to the next flipping all the right switches. The question is, if you can master this game, would that mean you could fly the real shuttle? Why not give NASA a ring and find out?
So, if you think you've mastered every flight sim on Earth, then try this one and really test yourself. Not for the faint-