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The gentlemen versus the players versus the Germans! Until a few days ago, having no interest in multiplayer, I had steered cleared of Cliffs of Dover. Until recently, I didn't have a system anywhere near the minimum spec of the current version on Steam, the Team Fusion 'Blitz Edition' (although it turns out to run smoothly, so far, at good-looking settings on a 1.5Gb GTX580, a lot less that the minimum 4Gb stated). So, how come this mission report? Well despite reports of poor AI, broken radio commands and limited single player content, I got it cheap enough to mitigate the limited satisfaction which I was resigned to expecting. First forays with my new toy confirmed the presence of several things I didn't like. Dispersion of effort into planes with little or no role in the Battle of Britain proper, which must be at the expense of something. Hedgerows replaced with 'tree-rows' and rather strong terrain colours (if not as cartoon-y as early versions). Over-weathered Hurricanes looking like ex-Japanese Army Airforce stock. Reasonable levels of radio traffic, but with some howlers like the boss being described as the Commander, instead of the Leader. Radio comms menu present but seemingly, much of it non-functional. Key commands a chore to set up, partly thanks to confusing duplicate labels in the settings table. Aircraft very hard to spot, without labels. RAF squadron codes vary from unit to unit, but are in too round a font. And that was before finding out whether the doubtless delectable but totally silly Spitfire Girl was still lurking in the wings (pun intended). However... ...if you can get over some quirks, the visuals are pretty good, especially the cockpits, and as I said performance was surprisingly smooth. I tried a few of the included single missions for the RAF, and found them passable fun, again apart from some more quirks mentioned here. So I decided to have a look at the current CloD single-player campaign, despite not having every last key properly set up, and in particular not having worked out how CloD's padlock works (I use mouselook but don't like head tracking systems). I soon found that the SP campaign is for an RAF fighter pilot, and apparently consists of a set of scripted missions, of unknown number so far. They have imaginatively-written briefings, which remind me of the best to be found in user-made campaigns for IL-2 '46, such as Blinding Sun and Faltspinman's Willi Jedermann series. Except that the briefings, creative though they be, are in some places bit twee - how do you say it in the US, 'cheesy'? The back-story is that you are a working class boy, or perhaps lower middle class, recently signed up in the RAF and posted to your Hurricane squadron, which is based at Tangmere, close to the Channel coast, at about the time the Battle of France ends. Your squadron is fictitious, but nicknamed the Fat Cats Squadron, because its pilots are basically rich kids. In this respect it sounds a bit like 501 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, which really was like that, being known as 'the millionaire's squadron'. In this CloD equivalent, the first briefing puts you firmly in your place, socially-speaking. But you are taken under the wing of a friendly flight commander with a similar 'limited background' to yourself, also from the Manchester area, a 'northerner' not a proper chap from the jolly old Home Counties. Your first mission with this less than friendly lot involves a scramble against a sudden, low-level raid by three Dornier 215 bombers which catches you on the ground, followed closely by a larger wave of maybe another nine. Second time up, you are scrambled to protect a Channel convoy against an attack by a large-ish bunch of Stukas, apparently unescorted. There are some screnies and brief notes on both missions in the post linked to above. Tolerably good, I found both, and the briefings link the missions together quite well. This report is from mission number three. The briefing begins with you and your friendly flight commander having a rather sad bitching session about the toffs who won't accept the likes of you and he into their circle, and ends when he breaks off to point out a damaged German bomber he's just spotted, apparently making for the coast on its own, in an effort to get back to France. 'Our planes are ready to go, let's go get him and orders be dammed!' is the gist of what he says next. So here we are. The mission has loaded and I'm sitting, engine running (no complex engine management mouseclick madness for me), in FC-A, with my new-found friend-for-life the flight commander in FC-M. The Fat Cats probably have personalised number plates on their MGs and Aston Martins, so I suppose it's no wonder they have their own fictional squadron code. The grass colours are really a bit dark but the airfield detail, as you can see, is fairly decent. It includes moving vehicles, notably some idiot racing around at about 50 MPH in a fifteen hundredweight truck or the like, fortunately well clear of any aircraft. Probably, it's some bored fat cat whose MG is in for a service. But where is the Hun? No-where to be seen, is the answer, so, slightly deflated, I wait for something to happen. ...to be continued!