More of a board game for the computer screen than a flight simulator, Achtung Spitfire is not meant for the serious flight Sim fan. However, World War II buffs will feel right at home with the design and execution of this game. The premise and gameplay are simple; players move and shoot their airplanes. There is no cover fire, advancing fire, etc. Neither is there a sense of flight maneuvering or fancy flying. In most cases, the air combat seems to take place on a flat surface rather than in the air.
The game complexity, in both controls and the way opponents fight, is determined by rank/skill setting. The field of combat--in this case, the skies over Europe -- is a flat surface, except in the General rank. Here, the action is a little more complex, allowing pilots to experience loops, rolls, and even negative G-force. Controlling the plane at each level is the same. For the most part, Achtung Spitfire is a point-and-click game, with the controls of each plane accessible from the mouse. Only in the harder levels (rank doesn't seem to have privilege here) do you need to worry about speed, stalls, and the effects of wild spins.
The missions mostly involve dogfights over Europe, but the game rounds out with bombing runs, anti-shipping, and strafing attacks. For quick games -- usually under fifteen minutes -- you can take part in the Dogfight or Combat Mission, while longer campaigns -- like the Tour Of Duty -- offer more intense gaming. A network option is not available, something all too common from Avalon Hill, but the game does allow for E-mail play.
The graphical interface is easy to use and the QuickTime video is a nice feature, offering mini-cut scenes and actual combat footage. It is too bad that the footage is so limited, because it wears thin after a while. The dogfight scenes could use some degree of variety too, as it seems as if every battle segment is over the same-clouded sky. At least the icons for the planes are unique, but it was sometimes difficult to keep track of the individual aircraft.
Achtung Spitfire is the type of game that Avalon Hill (a company with deep military simulations for roots) should be making: a war game with lots of historical detail and background, one that is suited to board game players. Like most of their war games, the manual is like a mini-text book; this one is complete with historical background on military aviation and the factors in the air war from both sides. In addition, the CD/ROM contains an excellent airplane database of 25 planes from the war, including some of the most popular German and English aircraft, as well as aircraft the French used for the fifteen minutes they were in the war.
Graphics: A board game played on the computer.
Sound: Board game sounds.
Enjoyment: It is simple and fun.
Replay Value: This game is fun and easy.
Games Domain review says it all about this underrated strategic flight simulation:"Achtung Spitfire (AS) is billed as the "prequel" to Over the Reich (OtR) since it covers the time period from 1939-1943, which immediately precedes the time period of OtR. The games share the same interface and flight engine, though, so anyone who owns OtR will feel immediately at home. The game includes the R.A.F., the Luftwaffe, and the French Armee de l'Air, with campaign games for all three. here are numerous scenarios, and one can always design more using the scenario builder function. At first glance, it would seem that this is the perfect companion to OtR, and the above features -- as well as the ability (after installing the v1.13 patch) to transfer pilots from AS to OtR in 1943 and continue a Tour of Duty that can encompass the entire war -- mean that if you own and enjoy OtR, you should stop reading right here, get up, and buy the game right now (if you haven't already).
Achtung Spitfire has one tremendous advantage going for it that Over the Reich does not, though, and it is probably solely due to this factor that AS is, in my opinion, the better game. Both games sink or swim on the basis of their campaign games, since single-scenario dogfights that provide no sense of continuity are of limited interest.. It is difficult to say where I stand on this game. The flight modeling is unquestionably impressive, but the fact that players are given no information about how the game goes about resolving the machanics of movement and combat is so egregious that even though the game has several strong points, the lack of a manual detracts greatly from the good features of the game. As I stated above, the 1939-43 campaign game suffers from a lack of flexibility and a general sense of historical irrelevance. Players who simply like the idea of guiding a group of pilots through mission after mission will appreciate the ability to connect the 1939-43 campaign to the 1943-45 campaign in Over the Reich. I like a more interactive environment, and I would have preferred that the campaign engine had been expanded. As it stands, I still find myself dragging the game out regularly, but only to play single dogfights, and I tire of these fairly quickly. Although it takes a fair run at it, Achtung Spitfire is not a truly effective turn-based air combat game. What makes me sad is that I'm afraid that this is the closest we'll ever get. In this case, I'd have to stick with cardboard counters. Avalon Hill and Big Time Software are apparently planning a third game in the series, Whistling Death, to cover the air war in the Pacific. Maybe next time they can get it completely right."
People who downloaded Achtung Spitfire! have also downloaded:
Over The Reich, Battle of Britain (from TalonSoft), Aces over Europe, Aces of The Pacific, Flight Commander 2, Aces of The Deep, Great Naval Battles 5, B-17 Gunner: Air War Over Germany
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