Achtung Spitfire

6While oceans of processing power have been unleashed to simulate the experience of flying combat aircraft, it was not until 1995, when Avalon Hill released Flight Commander 2 that PC gamers could play a game that focused entirely on operational, squadron-level tactics. Then there was Over The Reich, which depicted aerial action over Europe, circa 1943-1945. Now comes, Achtung Spitfire, a sequel of sorts, that doesn’t have as many planes in it but adds a dramatic context to the campaign mode – the Battle of Britain.

This campaign was to the European theater what Midway was to the Pacific: a period of time during which brave men drew a line beyond which the aggressors never passed. It’s a story that’s been told before, many times, but it remains a thrilling saga no matter how familiar it has become. Achtung Spitfire does go chronologically beyond the Battle of Britain (right up to the point in history where Over the Reich kicks in, in fact), but that campaign is the heart and soul of the game.

Each turn represents several seconds of real-time, during which you control the maneuvers of every plane on your chosen side. Move the joystick icon with your mouse to bank, adjust your rudders, add or decrease throttle — slick and simple. If an enemy plane can be fired upon, a crosshair icon appears superimposed over it, along with a number representing what percentage you’ve got of hitting it.

3You can fly single missions, including bomber escort and raids on Channel shipping, or enlist in either the RAF or the Luftwaffe for a career/campaign experience. The latter tour-of-duty mode is nicely fleshed-out: each pilot you fly with has strengths or weaknesses, some have nerves of steel while others crack under pressure. Some planes may have to turn back due to mechanical problems. This realism extends to command decisions: your wingman is an ace with nerves of ice, but his plane’s been shot up and he’s leaking oil — do you order him out or not?

If there’s any problem with Achtung Spitfire, it’s a simple matter of redundancy. Except for the Battle of Britain backdrop, it’s exactly the same game as Over the Reich. It looks the same, plays the same, and of course there were Spitfires in the earlier game, too, if you chose to fly them. So unless you’re particularly interested in the Battle of Britain, this game may be superfluous, especially if you’ve already earned your wings in the original Over the Reich.

System Requirements: 486 DX2/66, 8 MB RAM, Win95

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