Chocks away chaps! Forget the radar, forget the missiles, the ejector seats and (most unfortunately) all amorous thoughts of Kelly McGillis - Aces places you not in a state-of-the-art F-16 Falcon, but in the ramshackle cockpit of a selection of eight First World War aircraft.
Journey back to the days of leapfrog in the mess, stiff upper lips and bountiful supplies of crumpet. The men (usually called 'Ginge') were magnificent - flying machines made of balsa wood and cloth (to a standard of engineering precision even Blue Peter would be embarrased of). No parachutes or bulletproof glass - just you, your machine gun and your 'kite'.
Aces attempts to recreate this era of heroes and 'flying by the seat-of-your-pants' aerobatics by offering you a selection of game modes built around a basic bank-climb-roll flight-simulator package.
Tommy or Jerry?
Allied or Axis? Which side to enrol is the first moral decision you have to make. You remain registered until you are shot down or fail to land safely. You can enter several pilots simultaneously on either sides of the fence and fight according to how patriotic or 'Fritzy' you are feeling.
Next you must decide which 'kite' to fly. A nice demo sequence allows you to choose from eight different aircraft and having successfully chosen your Sopworth Camel Gti 4x4 'Popular Plus' it is almost time to go up, down, flying around, looping-the-loop and defying the ground.
Hang on though, as first you have to select your adventure. Assuming you wish to do more than just dogfight or pracice, there are three campaigns to explore, 'Bloody April', 'Battle of Amiens' and the 'Ludendorf Offensive'. Each comprises of missions fought over the same area. This way, you learn the landmarks - useful when you are upside down with some angry Fokkers up your exhaust port.
Missions include protecting from an air base enemy bombers, photo reconnaissance, bombing raids and balloon-bursting exercises. Complete each mission in all three campaigns and you are awarded the Blue Max or the Victoria Cross (depending on which side you are fighting for).
Simultaneous two-player action is a useful option. Fighting head-to-head or as wingmen, provides an extra dimension to the otherwise rather repetitive game scenario. Another useful inclusion is the 'strategy game'. One or two players can plot out their manoeuvres step-by-step on a grid and then see the results played back in real time.
Seat of your pants
Basically, Mindscape have developed a flight simulator program around which 'extra' peripheral features, replays and game-modes are bolted. Unfortunately, the whole package does not quite come off. If a flight simulator is to lose the missiles, radar, ground attack, in-flight refuelling, HUD and lock-on that provide the 'hook' for the majority of hi-tech simulator games, then there had better be a good reason in this case, it was the attempt to recreate the simple 'flying spirit' of the first world war. Nice idea - but with only mediocre graphics, it has not paid off.
The graphics can be quickened up - at the expense of detail and sound effects - but even the smoothest of sorties won't provide you with the 'skin-of-your-pants' exhilaration that was intended. Still, if flight simulators are what light up your Christmas tree, then Aces is worth a try. Smoke me a kpper, I will be back for breakfast...