forty five years after one of the greatest aerial campaigns
ever fought took place, a British company has produced
a simulation for Commodore users in the shape of Battle
of Britain. The game is a strategic wargame with
optional arcade sequences for those who would desire
them. One day scenarios or thirty day campaigns can
be played. Packaged in PSS's standard 'bookcase' format,
the game comes with a slick and concise manual in much
the same format as Battle for Midway.
game has a neat and colourful loading screen, depicting
a group of pilots posed in front of a Spitfire. After
loading, you are sent directly to the main menu screen
and the five options. You can decide to omit the arcade
sequences in favour of a pure wargame, then start the
training, blitzkrieg or campaign games.
training game is recommended in the instruction book
for those new to the game. Training is a one-day scenario
with little in the way of serious opposition from the
Luftwaffe. At the end of the game, you are rated in
terms of leadership ability by a percentage. Blitzkrieg
is a similar one-day scenario, with the exception of
the Luftwaffe laying it on like there's no tomorrow.
The campaign game option sends you on to another menu.
This includes Load/Save Day options, Start/Continue
campaign, a game speed utility and an option to return
to the main menu.
should be noted that (for playability?) PSS reduced
the actual number of campaign days from 54 to 30 and
increased the number of casualties inflicted by attacks
and bombing raids. A single day's play can last some
time, so this compression serves to make the whole affair
a scenario reveals a map of Great Britain (well, England
and Wales, actually). On the map are cities, airfields
and radar stations. At the top of the screen there are
several windows to indicate current losses for both
sides, the time and dale, description of whatever is
covered by the cursor, and a unit status box (activated
when an allied unit is directly under your control).
the game has started, it is only a matter of time before
the first German units enter the skies over the Channel
(and it doesn't take them long to reach your shores).
You can move your cursor over an airfield and press
the fire button to reveal what units are there and if
any of them are ready for combat. The units displayed
are either squadrons of Spitfires or Hurricanes and
can be selected by an arrow situated next to the unit
description. Pressing the joystick button scrambles
that unit and returns you to the map. A moment later,
an RAF roundel is displayed to represent the now airborne
squadron. The cursor can now be used for one of two
things. Just moving it over the roundel displays information
in the status box, and pressing the fire button allows
you to give the unit flight orders. Interception of
an enemy unit and ensuing combat are both automatic,
given a degree of proximity, working much in the same
manner as ZOC (Zone of Control, for the uninitiated)
you have switched off the arcade sequences, the result
of combat is handled by the computer. Otherwise a 'Select
Battle' message appears at the top of the screen, which
you have to respond to very quickly or the computer
assumes you will allow automatic results. You enter
the arcade sequence with a view from your cockpit (there
are differences between the two types of Allied aircraft
used). In the distance is the formation of enemy aircraft,
and they soon become aware of your presence and start
to split up. The fire button provides you with firepower
and it is simply a question of anticipating the enemy
pilots' movements and blasting them out of the sky (well,
that's the theory). In fact, if you fly on a particular
heading for more than a few seconds, you will undoubtedly
discover an enemy aircraft in your mirror, and rapid
evasive action is necessary to avoid being shot down.
Assuming you have set the arcade sequences to 'on' but
you wish to bypass some of them, hitting the space bar
I have reviewed PSS's Battle for Midway for a
different machine and criticised it for making the player
joystick dependent and thereby reducing the mental skill
level required to complete the game. No such criticism
would be valid here, however. PSS have handled the idea
of 'switchable' arcade sequences very well indeed. In
fact, because I knew that a 'true' wargame could easily
be selected, there were occasions when I left the action
sequences in, just for the fun of it. Incidentally,
the graphics in these sequences are very good indeed
and I wonder whether PSS aren't using the talent their
programmers obviously possess as wisely as they could.
But such things are not for discussion here.
German bombers try and go for the airfields, cities
and radar stations, with differing effects. If airfields
are attacked, the first you're likely to know of this
is when some of your planes try landing on a cratered
runway, taking a few casualties. If, as a result of
repealed attacks, an airfield becomes wholly un-operational,
you will have no choice but to divert forces elsewhere.
If radar stations are knocked out, you will discover
attacks later, when the enemy is nearer to your shores.
Pressing 'R' gives you a radar map in bright colours.
However, if any stations are destroyed, gaps become
noticeable in the map. These are your blind areas.
being the least effective against your operations, strikes
against cities severely damages morale and, as a consequence,
your leadership ability at the end of the game. So have
no illusions about poor bomber protection being a 'cheap'
way of winning the game. When the Luftwaffe are attacking
any ground-based target, the battle selection places
you in control of an antiaircraft weapon and leaves
the rest to you.
campaign game is the most advanced part of Battle
of Britain. This can be made more or less difficult
by use of the Speed function in the campaign menu. The
main difference between this scenario and the others,
however, is the re-supply phase. At the end of each
day, new aircraft and pilots can be used to re-equip
depleted squadrons. Realistically, pilots go from excellent
to worse as the Campaign progresses. This adds considerable
depth to the game, and by the time you get to the campaign
stage, you will welcome the addition to the rules.