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Game info

Reach for the Skies

Reach for the Skies
GenreFlight Sim
DeveloperRowan Software
PublisherVirgin Games
Reviewed byndial
A combat flight simulation based around the Battle of Britain, Reach for the Skies gives you the chance to fly the great warplanes of that era as you pit yourself against various aces in battle. Developed by Rowan Software and published by Virgin Games for the Amiga, Atari ST and PC (MS-DOS).
Reach for the SkiesSTORY / GAMEPLAY:
Reach for the Skies is not a mission based game which can be lost or won on the basis of one mission. Instead it is a simulation of the entire conflict that became known as "The Battle of Britain". You will win or lose depending on your long term performance during the conflict. Your aim as an R.A.F. pilot or controller is to maintain your reserves of aircraft while protecting the shores of south England, while as a Luftwaffe pilot or controller you lead the Nazi forces as they cross the English Channel in search of victory. As a pilot, you and climb aboard a Spitfire, Hurricane, JU87, JU88, BF-109, BF-110 and engage in dog fighting with only your skill and wits to protect you. There are plenty of dials and meters to confuse you though, but the control panel looks authentic enough. As a controller, you can plan the battle by actually making the strategy decisions that will win or lose the battle.
The game is quite difficult and chasing the enemy over land and sea is tough to shoot it down. You also have the option to accelerate time, so that to finally get into battle with the enemy (as it takes ages to reach after take-off).
The plane is very responsive, and can be controlled either form the keyboard or joystick (analogue or digital). For the long periods on the way to or from a dogfight, there's an autopilot which will guide the plane in the right direction. You can press the TAB key too, which will put the simulation into accelerated time mode. It's also possible to switch between the various planes of your squadron (by holding down the SHIFT key), and the ones you're not flying will automatically engage the autopilot, which can control the plane during a dogfight.

The planes have been accurately modeled in terms of behavior, meaning that the Spitfire and Hurricans are extremely maneuverable, while the German Heinkel BF110 and Junkers JU87 are hopelessly outclassed. The plane handles realistically (as can be expected) and glides smoothly along. The 3D is quite impressive, especially when you fly the plane over land. There are plenty of external 3D views, all with the option to zoom in and out.
The cockpit graphics are simple but well-drawn and informative depicting several dials on both RAF and Luftwaffe aircraft, calibrated in imperial units – ft, miles etc. There is none of the complex shading and lighting routines of other flight simulators, and only 16 colors on screen are utilized, but these results in extremely good gameplay. Even on a 1Mb A500, the graphics are smooth and the plane responsive. You can also alter the level of graphic detail used while playing, although it's very smooth, even on a low-end Amiga (1Mb A500) at maximum detail.
The sound on the other hand is a little disappointing. There is music at the start and the in-between mission sections, but this is not overly inspiring. The engine noise is rather weak, and doesn't change much in response to the throttle. There are of course some nice digitized radio speech touches during battle, but they are not liven it up much.
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Comparable platforms

16 colors
Commodore Amiga OCS/ECS

153 colors
Hardware information

Amiga 500/500+

Amiga 500/500+CPU: Motorola MC68000 7.16 MHz
MEMORY: 512KB of Chip RAM (OCS chipset - A500), 512 KB of Slow RAM or Trapdoor RAM can be added via the trapdoor expansion, up to 8 MB of Fast RAM or a Hard drive can be added via the side expansion slot. The ECS chipset (A500+) offered 1MB on board to 2MB (extended) of Chip RAM.
GRAPHICS: The OCS chipset (Amiga 500) features planar graphics (codename Denise custom chip), with up to 5 bit-planes (4 in hires), allowing 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 color screens, from a 12bit RGB palette of 4096 colors. Resolutions varied from 320x256 (PAL, non-interlaced, up to 4096 colors) to 640x512 (interlace, up to 4 colors). Two special graphics modes where also included: Extra Half Bright with 64 colors and HAM with all 4096 colors on-screen. The ECS chipset models (Amiga 500+) offered same features but also extra high resolution screens up to 1280x512 pixels (4 colors at once).
SOUND: (Paula) 4 hardware-mixed channels of 8-bit sound at up to 28 kHz. The hardware channels had independent volumes (65 levels) and sampling rates, and mixed down to two fully left and fully right stereo outputs
The Amiga 500/500+ (default) color palette
12bit RGB 4096-colors palette
(32 to 4096 colors on screen)
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