Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space is a game that allows the player to simulate the space race from the Explorer 1 satellite to the first Man on the Moon . The player may choose to play the United States (NASA), or to play from the side of the Soviet space program. (In which case your space program begins with the Sputnik satellite.) Whichever side the player choses, the computer plays the other, so like in the real space race, there is the pressure of intense competion.

Each side develops hardware, recruits astronauts, and launches missions to further his chosen strategy. The player is not limited to the historical mission methods, but may choose from a variety of strategies and equipment.

Sadly, this game is now out of print. It is occasionally seen on auction sites, and the brave of heart may run it on a Windows 95 box.

To expand:

This game is insanely hard. Playing on the same difficulty as the computer, it's not surprising to see a successful Russian lunar landing by 1965 (or even earlier). The computer cheats, and it cheats mercilessly - while you are punished for unsuccessful launches, and your budget cut, no such thing happens to the computer; in fact, it often gets budget boosts.

Not that the hardware you have is particularly reliable in any case. An 80% 'success rating' for, say, the Mercury capsule, whose maximum (through research) is 84% - really means 80% at each failure check - which, in a manned orbital EVA, results in a roughly 80% chance of failure.

Aside from the inevitable (and I do mean inevitable) hardware failures, your astronauts often lead very short lives as astronauts. Not in the sense that they die off like flies - though with the Mercury capsule, they tend to - but that they quit for a multitude of reasons. Not getting along with their fellow mission crew, for example. Deciding to go into business. Quitting for personal reasons.

You get the point.

Not that the game doesn't have its own quirky charms. You can go to the Moon in ways dismissed by NASA as too impractical - a reusable reentry vehicle, a direct ascent lunar landing... you can even go there on a Voskhod and a kicker, if you want - somewhat insane, historically speaking, but...

The game's rights have reverted back to the original owner, and the game is now free to download. If you intend to give it a try, I suggest hunting down the CD version - the difficulty is ratcheted down from fyita to merely difficult.

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