Flight-sims - head-up displays, multi-million dollar missiles, laser lock-on, retractable undercarriage, chaff, afterburners... Knights Of The Sky has none of em. In the days before a fully-equipped fighter cost more than a small town and when jet engines were a twinkle in Frank Whittle's eye, prop-driven bi-planes ruled the skies! Aircraft first saw military action in World War One and Knights Of The Sky takes this conflict as its inspiration.
Unsurprisingly for a former MicroProse game, Knights Of The Sky boasts incredible attention to detail. I won't bore you with long lists of options cribbed from the manual while the game loads (we're not like other mags you know), but rest assured it's got enough depth to sink Jeremy Beadle (if you don't believe me, give it a try and do the world a favour). Everyone's catered for, from the die-hard pick-up-and-play merchants to the serious sim expert.
Self-contained dogfights, training courses and modem head-to-head battles are available, but the heart of the game's in serving as a pilot in the Great War. Starting in 1916 with a rookie flier and a choice of two kites' (that's tally-ho talk for planes), you're sent on a series of missions over allied and occupied France. Escorting bombers, blasting reconnaissance balloons, intercepting enemy fighters, patrolling sensitive areas; each mission offers its own challenge and because the game generates its own, you never know what's coming next.
The Plane Truth...
Between flights you're treated to a series of cameo pics depicting a news piece, bar-room rumour, flight crew message etc. Always relevant, they never interfere with the game's flow. The flight crew, for example, inform you of aeronautic developments, allied and enemy. As new planes are developed, your choice of kites widens - the game features every significant fighter of WW1, and for once they actually make a difference to the flight model.
If you're not too experienced at flight-sims, lower difficulty levels greatly reduce the enemy pilots' ability. Their planes take very little damage before crumbling, while repeated hits reduce your own craft's performance, but it takes a lot of lead to bring it down. Needless to say, this imbalance is redressed as you advance. There are 13 viewpoints on offer, and they're not just cosmetic either - keep looking over your shoulder for the enemy, and don't spend too much time admiring the excellent views.
'That's all very well,' I hear you cry, 'but how does it play?' Have no fear. Although Amigadom's littered with brilliantly-presented games that play like conkers in a dilapidated bus shelter, this one won't be joining the scrap heap - it's brilliant!
For a start, there's no disk-swapping, even with one drive. The game comes on two disks but the first's no longer needed after the 'insert disk two' message. Those who hate all the keyboard-clobbering demanded by many sims are in for a treat. There are precious few keys to press and they soon become instinctive. No need to flick through the manual to find which weapon to use either - it's a machine gun or nothing!
Not that any of this stops it being fun. The fast update gives a real feeling of flight and the seat-of-your-pants dogfighting, with no electronic assistance, blows you away. The artificial intelligence of the computer-controlled pilots is excellent, too. Getting any plane to stay in your gunsights long enough to blast it out of the sky's tricky enough, but wait until you meet an elite pilot - they fight like demons. On-screen messages tell you when you've received or scored a hit, and action replays of your finest and foulest moments are available too.
Kixx XL have brought us another quality game for under £20. Due to the size of manuals, games like this could never be sold as ordinary budget offerings, so fans of the genre need a label like Kixx XL. Keep 'em coming, that's what I say!
A very good looking simulator game, similar to Wings. You can choose your plane, base on the map and fly a mission. Many external and internal views, nice graphics and sound. Unfortunately the vector graphics is not fast enough.
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Lost Patrol, The, Reach For The Skies, Wings, Lemmings, Blue Max, It Came from the Desert, Pirates! Gold AGA, Lemmings: Oh No! More Lemmings
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