The first thing that popped into my mind when Wings Over Europe: Cold War - Soviet Invasion (to give it its full name) dropped onto my desk, was that it had two band names in the title. The idea of playing a perfectly adequate (if dated) combat flight simulator dissolved from my mind, to be replaced with hazy scenes of Paul McCartney offering me a piggy back to the fanfare from The Final Countdown.
Suddenly, on my ex-Beatle stallion, the world of visually sub-par Cold War action was miles away.
Frustrating keyboard mappings were nothing to me. When the instinctive reflex to use the Escape key as a pause button didn't pause the game, instead aborting my mission without a confirmation prompt, I wasn't bothered. How could I be, when Joey Tempest, lead singer of Europe, had just dedicated Rock The Night to me?
Reality is all too frequently a total bummer, and coming from my happy dreams to playing Wings Over Europe is a perfect example. Although it's a genuinely passable simulation, the same thrills are to be found - in a considerably more thrilling form - in a dozen other places. Wings Over Europe looks and plays like a game from 1999, and I went through all the hassle of living through 1999 with the strict understanding that things were going to get better.
To end on an upbeat note, Wings Over Europe's American subtitle is one of the best I've seen. 'Cold War Gone Hot' is so hammy that you can just picture a US General saying: "Gentlemen, I'm upgrading our defence status to tepid." It's just a shame that the most fun I had in this game was with my own flights of fancy.
Eject the program