Having made an impact with a compilation of 50 games and a free digital watch over two years ago, Cascade surprised many a cynic with the release of their first full-price product – Air Combat Emulator. Building on the success of ACE across many formats, Sky Runner followed at Christmas-time last year, and now Cascade have three new imminent releases – a multidirectional scrolling shoot ’em up called Implosion, a vector graphic shoot em up Ring Worland this sequel to their biggest seller entitled ACE 2.
Ian Martin, the programmer behind Sky Runner, has adopted a different approach in writing ACE 2 – where ACE was most definitely simulation orientated, its sequel is in the shoot em up mould, with minimal interaction required to fly.
Billed as ‘a head to head flight and combat simulation ACE 2 allows one or two players to battle it out in an airborne duel to the death. The number of planes at your disposal is determined before play (between one and 20). Along with the type of combat scenario you wish to undertake – either Close Range Dogfight or Full Scale Conflict. A Close Range Dog fight starts in the air where as Full Scale Conflict begins at base where both players have the opportunity to arm the planes.
For the obnoxious pilot with no friends, the computer takes control of the second plane and plays at one of 20 skill levels. Cannon are built-in and 3000 rounds of ammunition are supplied, and two other weapon systems are available. Air-To-Ground and Air-To-Air (Heat-Seeking and Radar-Guided) missiles however, cannot be carried in such vast quantities. The explosive power of the missiles is determined before play, which means it can take more than one hit with a missile to destroy the opposition.
Flares or Chaff pods can be released to confuse a chasing air- to-air missile, although you only have six of each so it’s wise to use them sparingly and rely instead on skillful flying. Thoughtfully, there’s an option to turn off the Crash Detection so should a trainee pilot hit the ground, the plane doesn’t blow up.
Flight controls are gloriously simple, with the joystick used to maneuver the plane and presses of the keyboard to increase or decrease throttle. A map of the area is called up at any time with an appropriate key press, and instantly shows your position relative to the enemy.
On-screen presentation is excellent, with clear, instantly accessible displays, and on the Commodore 64 disk version, the high score table is updated and saved to disk. Documentation is also first class, featuring comprehensive instructions with handy hints and technical details interspersed throughout to good effect. Despite the range of options and skill levels available though, playing against the computer-controlled opponent isn’t overly exciting. However, ACE 2 is an excellent two-player head to head combat game – very fast, very playable, and more often than not, very tense.
My rating for this game is 4 out of 5. Check out for more classic game review.