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Achtung Spitfire

Despite the fact that Achtung Spitfire is a game set in the skies above Europe during World War II and features many different aircraft locked in battle, it is not a flight simulator. Rather, Achtung Spitfire takes a different approach to air combat by using a turn-based tactical combat engine. Based on Avalon Hill's Over the Reich game engine, Achtung Spitfire mirrors the board games for which Avalon Hill is known.

Players assume a dual role in Achtung Spitfire: that of a pilot and that of the supreme commander of air units for the English, the French, or the Germans. Players are given control of each plane on a map (except enemy planes, of course), and they can control them by moving the stick and throttle, or by simply clicking on where they'd like to go. Clicking on the Go button makes the plane move. If the plane is in position to fire, a red cross hair with a number appears on the targeted enemy plane. Clicking on the cross hairs fires. The computer does some probability stuff to see if the shots hit, and then it's the next plane's turn. Once all of a player's planes have moved, the computer gets to go. It's that simple.

Achtung Spitfire also features a network mode, which lets you play a network game using a TCP/IP connection. Although the game's artificial intelligence is sharp (and sometimes a bit too difficult), there's nothing like playing against another human being.

Given its price tag, Achtung Spitfire probably won't provide enough excitement for many gamers. The gameplay, although engaging, is slow; and the animations that happen when, say, a plane is shot down have to run their full course before returning control to the player. Some of the interface elements in the strategy map (such as the automatic pausing of the game in certain situations) are a bit clunky. For players who love strategy board games, though, especially those produced by Avalon Hill, Achtung Spitfire might be a great fit. —David Reynolds

GOOD NEWS: Innovative approach to air combat. Great as a strategy board game. Good artificial intelligence.
BAD NEWS: Very little action. Interface somewhat clunky. Can't interrupt animations.
COMPANY: The Avalon Hill Game Company
CONTACT: 800-999-3222 or 410-254-9200 ,
PRICE: $45 (direct)
REQUIREMENTS: 68040 or faster, 8MB of RAM