The Avalon Hill Game Company is well-known for making war games for over 20 years. Most of the games are board games, involving moving chits (units) around on a map or maps. Even their computer games seem to be set up the same way. Luckily, Over the Reich has not been held to the same standard. Over the Reich uses freestyle graphics (rather than chits) in showing planes moving across map-type backgrounds.
Opening the game takes players to the ready room. From here, players can choose what level of difficulty to play under. Lieutenant, the easiest level, is much less realistic than the hardest level, General. In addition, Lieutenant level allows players to "burn and turn" without losing control which is not possible in real life.
Clicking on the door to the airfield allows the player to choose which missions to play: English, American or German. There are 39 British missions, 61 American missions and 32 German missions. The missions can be played in any order and one of the options available in the game allows players to set their game so that success in the earlier missions against Germany hurts the Reich's war effort, making for less opposition in later missions.
In addition to controlling their own plane, players have a chance to lead men into battle. A roster of pilots is maintained and shows any special abilities they may have such as keen eyes, sharpshooter or crack pilot, status (ready, tired, missing in action, wounded in action, etc.), prior missions (if any) and kills (if any).
This game is both realistic and engrossing. Anyone who enjoys flight simulations or wishes to fight World War II all over again will find this game a wonderful addition to their library. Included in the many types or kinds of airplanes players can choose to fly are bombers, fighter planes, interceptors and more.
The manual covers everything players will need to know about playing and I would suggest playing the training missions through a couple of times each before attempting your first mission to get used to the controls for each plane.
Graphics: Much better than in other Avalon Hill games. The feeling of moving chits across a map is greatly reduced.
Sound: Loud and clear, sir!
Enjoyment: Very enjoyable. The higher difficulty levels can make you feel as if you actually are flying the plane.
Replay Value: With over 100 missions, you will be playing this one forever.
"Over the Reich (OtR) is a simulation of the air war over Europe late in WWII. But it's not your traditional joy-stick-driven flight simulator. The "sequel" to Big Time Software's Flight Commander II (which dealt with modern air combat), this game more closely resembles some of Avalon Hill's air combat board games (Dauntless springs to mind) than it does a traditional flight sim. Instead of piloting a single plane, you are in command of a group of planes. Instead of viewing the action from the cockpit, you view it from a top-down perspective. Instead of piloting the plane in real time, you can mull over possible "moves" before deciding what to do. In general, OtR places a premium on strategic and tactical thinking rather than reflexive reactions.
Each plane's flight characteristics are excellently-modeled (at least to the best of my understanding) which means that different tactics are required for different planes. For example, the Spitfire can turn circles around anything in the sky, so you will want to engage the enemy in an old-fashioned dogfight. But you'll need to keep an eye on your ammunitions levels (you don't have much) and make sure you don't take too many hits! On the other hand, the FW-190 has great speed, acceleration, and armament, but it doesn't turn very well. You'll have to use slashing attacks, then accelerate away from the target before turning for another run. Be sure to check out the extensive airplane database included in the game for plane specifications, strengths, weaknesses, and suggested tactics. You have to use planes according to their capabilities in order to win the game...
[OtR] is strangely addictive and I find myself loading it up with a surprising frequency for a quick 15-20 minutes worth of procrastination. The AI is wonderfully difficult (I can't stress this point enough) and there is quite a bit of fun and challenge in discovering the characteristics of a each aircraft and learning what tactics are required to win with each particular plane. But, ultimately, OtR is just too repetitive. The number of planes and types of planes may change, it may be a Tour of Duty, a Dogfight, or a Mission, but every battle is basically the same and at the end of the day I'm not sure how much longevity Over the Reich will have for all but the most dedicated fans."
People who downloaded Over The Reich have also downloaded:
Achtung Spitfire!, Flight Commander 2, Great Naval Battles 5, Battle of Britain (from TalonSoft), Great Naval Battles 1, Silent Hunter: Commander's Edition, Red Baron 3D, Jutland
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