Title Reach For the Skies Game Type Flight Sim Distibutor Virgin Games Company Rowan Software Players 1 HD install Yes Compatibility Some glitches with AGA Submission email@example.com Review Rowan Software already had a strong reputation for their flight simulators with the earlier "Flight of the Intruder". Based on the book of the same name, that game featured a great deal of realism as you could take control of an A-6 or an F-4 during the Vietnam war, even including the quite ludicrous political directives that hampered air operations of the time. This game was heavily delayed and somewhat marred by some serious bugs and lack of play testing, but was still well ahead of the competition. With this in mind, their announcement of a Battle of Britain simulation using a refined version of the same game engine was warmly welcomed. Despite a delayed release, most of the bugs had been ironed out and this was a game in a class of its own. At the start of the game you are allowed the options of playing on either the Allied or Axis side. Options to play as a pilot, a controller, or both, greatly increase the strategic element and you can actually have a full and satisfying game without even taking part in any of the missions! There is a good selection of aircraft types for both sides, with the German side having the benefit of including several bomber types. Personally, I would have liked to see some of the more exotic aircraft such as the Boulton Paul Defiant or the Italian squadrons being included (for target practise!), but the aircraft present are well simulated. Each has its own cockpit display and unique handling characteristics which do make a difference. Although they look very dated now, the mainly filled polygon graphics were excellent for 1993, a time long before graphics cards transformed the PC gaming scene. The feeling of movement is well simulated and there are few graphical glitches. One problem is that accelerator cards and the AGA chipset actually make the game too fast. On a 68030 it is often difficult to keep up with the action as your input fails to keep up with the display. Having said that, as the aircraft are not of the supersonic variety, this is not as big a problem as it was in their Vietnam simulation. On a stock A1200 the game moves along very nicely, and it is playable on a basic A500. Missions are varied and historically quite accurate. The Luftwaffe begin by targeting the radar sites before moving on to airfield attacks. The Royal Air Force have to react accordingly and the strategy element means that all your actions have an effect on the overall conflict. Radar stations, which are very nicely drawn, are eventually repaired over time but a well aimed bomb from a Stuka or Me 110 can put them out of action for good. The only real disappointment here is that cities are represented by very simple grey areas with few buildings. This was all down to the hardware limitations, of course, and does not detract from the longterm gameplay. I personally find it satisfying to strafe Royal Air Force stations that I have actually worked at in real life! The balance between game and simulation is well judged. External views work well and enable you to admire some of the minimalist scenery. You are able to hop between gun positions on the multi-seat aircraft and realistic flight plans and strategies help in achieving your tasks. This does not prevent "cheating"; when I desperately need to take out a target, I just fly in low and slow, avoiding fixed anti-aircraft emplacements, knowing that small arms fire has not been included. Another useful strategy if you are on the unlimited fuel and ammunition setting is to take out multiple targets to make a bigger impact on the air campaign. For pure dogfighting action, the Spitfire is perfect and the Hurricane, true to life, is the best machine for getting amongst Luftwaffe bomber formations and causing havoc. The computer plays a decent game which ensures that some good aerial battles take place with some real excitement generated as you attempt to manoeuvre into a good position whilst avoiding incoming fire. Training flights or selecting various sections of the campaign enable casual players to get straight into the action, if they so desire. Even the best of players will find that the game takes a long time to complete in campaign mode, but the satisfaction of beating off the Luftwaffe, or forcing the Royal Air Force into capitulation, is very satisfying. As usual with a simulation of this quality, the manual is large and informative, which all adds to the atmosphere. Of course, they do not mention the fact that a German invasion was acknowledged as being suicidal by the strategists in charge of the plan, but this has only really been highlighted by historians and "revisionists" in the last few years! Prior to the release of this title, the only other Battle of Britain simulation of any note for the Amiga was "Their Finest Hour" released a couple of years earlier by LucasFilm Games. However, this was a completely different style of game, incorporating bitmap graphics with frantic arcade action. That was a classic game in its own right but is almost impossible to play on an A1200 or higher due to the graphical display. There has not been a better simulation on the Amiga, or even the PC for that matter, since. Rowan Software did produce the follow-up "Overlord", which simulates later campaigns over mainland Europe, but this is basically just the same system with different aircraft and situations. It is excellent, but does not offer any real improvements in terms of gameplay. This leaves "Reach For the Skies" quite literally in a class of its own, and a true classic. With the advent of powerful yet cheap graphics cards and faster processors, I am sure I am not the only person who would love to see an update of this game, but will this ever happen on the Amiga, bearing in mind that Rowan are now firmly entrenched in the PC market? Well, one can live in hope!