Having had some impressive reviews within these hallowed pages, the Impressions team are not without some admirers here at AUI. In Air Force Commander they have demonstrated yet again an uncanny knack of picking a subject just at the right time. This simulation is a corker. It throws you nght into the heat of some of the most famous conflicts this century.
As the Air Force Commander of any one of 12 different countnes, it is your job to manipulate the available forces, using a mixture of strategy and firepower, together with sensible resource management and attention to civil issues. If this sounds complicated, in practice, the game is a well constructed and thought out simulation of running a country at the edge of constant aggression, controlled via an easy-to-use interface.
Complete with this game is the first combat module consisting of over 20 scenarios set in the modern day Middle East. There is, incidently, a second module available featuring scenarios from World War II, including the Battle of Britain, so this one will run and run.
What a choice to make, to be Saddam against Iran, the Allies in the Gulf War, the Israelis in the 73 Yom
Kippur War - the list goes on. Then there are the levels of conflict, ranging.from the local bickering of small oil rich states up to the Anarchy Scenario, where the whole region explodes.
Obviously, the object of the game is to defeat your opponent, but to achieve this you need to secure your own defences first and then launch attacks against prime enemy targets. At the beginning of the game all your squadrons and missiles are mothballed from lack of use, but a few clicks of the mouse soon changes things for the better and before you know it MIGs. F15s. AWACS. Stealth Bombers and Scuds are remorslessly winging their way to their programmed targets.
The play actually takes place over three maps. The strategic map is an actual geographical picture of the whole region, which can be scrolled in any direction with detailed pictures of cities, airbases, radar and coastline defences - but only as far as your current satellite range allows. You also see your planes flying across country on bombing runs, or the enemy doing it to you, before you do it to them! The radar map gives you a view of the tactical arena with major points of interest shown as coloured dots. Remember, the further into enemy space your AWACS fly, the more detailed information you are able to receive. The satellite map gives a more comprehensive image of a much smaller area across the whole play area and is not limited by radar coverage.
The units directly under your control are plane squadrons and missile launchers, although you are in charge of airbases, munitions dumps, power plants and cities (but these are run automatically).
Once a unit is put into service it begins to use up resources, especially when repairs are needed which doubles the burn up. If key resource targets, like power stations, get hit, your ability to generate resources slows dramatically, so defence is a priority.
This is a game of enourmous depth, with situations changing by the minute as your fortunes wane or prosper. Not only have you a war to fight, but you also have to ensure that your popularity does not fail, either at home or abroad. If it does, it's curtains for you.
AFC works because it is unfussy, concise and only on 1 disk!
As they say on Sky, check out Air Force Commander. It's a whole new wargame!
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