The famous attack helicopter Apache has inspired the videogames developers for quite some time. The first flight of the heir to the Cobra was held in 1975, although still nearly ten years more were spent on various improvements and tests. Soon after that it was actively used at night during Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama in 1989. Now the «Apache» is the Boeing’s pride serving at the U.S. Army, and it is also a welcome guest in the Air Force ranks in other countries such as Great Britain, Holland, Greece, Israel and Japan.
One of the first helicopter simulators in the world was a 3-D Helicopter Simulator game by Sierra, released in 1987. It was mainly represented by colored lines and dots, but there was also a basic presentation of the instrument’s panel alongside some sort of network competition through the modem. Since then a couple of decades passed, and attack helicopters sims acquired a small, but steady demand.
Of course, the Apache has remained a favorite model of game developers in this narrow niche, though, in fairness, we note that there were others: take Ka-50 Hokum (1995) or even some fantasy gunships. In 2003 the Danish designers have created Apache Air Assault for PC and PS2, and then even exported this product to Russia, just like they did with its sequel.
Made in Russia
Publisher Activision hasn’t forgotten the Apache games brand. However, it is worth noting that Apache: Air Assault, newly re-established in 2010, was initially positioned as a authentic simulator. Its development was entrusted into the hands of the Russian team, Gaijin Entertainment, familiar not only by their movie-to-games adaptations, but also with their console title – «IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey» for Xbox 360 and PS3, which later on got to the PC. Therefore, it isn’t surprising for us, that Apache: Air Assault was released on all the same platforms.
The plot in Apache: Air Assault plays a secondary role, giving some more sense to the fighting. The main conflict is unfolding in different climatic regions, like jungles and mountains reminiscent of various parts of the globe, but the actual locations are fictitious, as, for example, the republic Tazirstan, where terrorists tryto destabilize the local political regime. The villains are ready to do anything to achieve their goals, but on their way appear some brave mercenary pilots, who are ready to counteract in any difficult situation, responding adequately to aggressors.
Training mode is comprised of the 3 sections that will quickly teach you to fly the in-game helicopter. The main campaign includes 16 pretty dynamic missions, and the same can be said about the whole pace of the game. Thus, right at the first mission enemy raids your airbase, so you have to take your Apache up to their air, defeat the remainings of the camp from various attack waves, locate and destroy more terrorirsts afterwards.
As any competent pilot of the legendary Apache, you have to perform different combat tasks: to protect your allies, to destroy opponents on the ground and in the air, as well as flying at low altitude to avoid detection, when it is required.
The game provides three difficulty modes. We recommend the Training mode to the beginners, since here your helicopter won’t flip much to the sides, you won’t have to worry about the ammunition, therefore, the enemies will be easier to defeat. More experienced users should definitely try the Realistic options set, since it ensures a much more authentic physics and also limits your rockets and bullets. However, still here you can wait for some time for the weapons to be recharged.
If you don’t pay attention to careful flying, the helicopter can lose control and crash collapsing with the land or mountain surface. In most cases it will be lethal, but sometimes you still can try to land safely if you can perform with autorotation flying even without a tail section. When you finish story missions in Realistic mode, there is a Veteran difficulty mode unlocked, which is really hard to play.
It looks like more opponents will carry missiles against Veterans, also you will have just one attempt to complete the mission. Also instead of recharging your cannons, much more often you will have to find a landing zone to re-supply your fuel and ammo rezerves before getting back to your duties. It won’t be easy to achieve goals here , in comparison to doing the same while using various attempts or lives in other game modes.
Ready for battle
Your helicopter is armed with various types of weapons: light and heavy rockets, as well as a heavy machine gun. For example, Apache carries heavy self-guided «Hellfire» missiles, light «Hydra» rockets, requiring you to manipulate the crosshairs, «Stinger» missiles and a 30-mm onboard gun. The latter one is controlled by an AI-assistant, when your attention is occupied with missile launches. Though you still can manage all the weapons personally, switching your targets or trying to ensure the perfect aiming.
The main feature of the game is the realistic feel of the combat systems usage. At higher difficulty levels you have to plan your missile launches carefully, using them against proper targets. It will not only allow to survive, but to deal with the opposition faster. You will encounter ground and air light and heavy targets that can start shooting at you sooner that you identify them if not to pay attention to where you are heading.
In other words, do not spend valuable homing «Hellfires» to hit infantry hiding in a forest. It is much more effective to eliminate these soldiers using your onboard heavy machine gun with its special camera view. Also you can use heat-seeking targeting mode allowing you to see human opponents. Here the allied targets are marked with an additional frame, what helps not to confuse them with the bad guys.
Besides the story mode, you can try out the Free Flight mode, specifying various settings, including desired geographic region, weather, number of ground-based enemies and many other options. There are even different playable helicopters to try out: Apache AH-64D Longbow, MQ-8B Fire Scout (reconnaissance chopper) and a soviet Mi-35 Hind. All of them are carrying their own armament, which is still a pack comprised of light and heavy missile types and a machine gun.
After each mission you are provided with the evaluation of your progress. Your flight time, number of used attempts, destroyed enemies, damage costs – everything is taken into account. The developers gathered some economic data to reflect the close to real property values. Based on all of these factors a grade of your battle efficiency will be measured.
Apache: Air Assault contains several multiplayer features. Firstly, the console versions let you walkthrough the missions together with a human co-pilot. Two crew roles are available here: a pilot and a gunner. The pilot has to provide the gunner with suitable angles for shooting. On the other hand, the pilot has to ensure the steady movement of a helicopter giving the gunner some time to get a good enough eim to destroy the enemies.
The online play is available for 2-4 pilots. Each of them will operate a separate chopper and can use a voice chat. The team can take on some squad operations designed especially for the multiplayer. It will require good teamwork to be able to deal with them. Also it opens some interesting tactical choices. For example, a reconnaissance helicopter can fly ahead to scout the enemies painting them for the heavy battle group following behind.
The in-game physics model successfully recreates the behavior of an attack chopper. You will be able to perform certain flight maneuvers and you need to do that safely to stay alive in the Realistic game mode. At any time it is important to monitor your level of altitude, the surrounding space, the flying trajectory and the moving speed. You can use some data from the cabin’s instrument panel as well. By the way, available camera views vary: third-person, in-cabin, tracking a missile, machine gun camera, heat-seeking vision with a zoom-in and so on.
Speaking about graphics, we were pleased with the detailed attack choppers’ models alongside the available degrees of damage: your helicopter can lose its tail section, what we already mentioned above, though it is not the only one of possible breakdowns, since engines could get hit too making you start losing control. It is interesting to point out that The Boeing Company collaborated with the developers and providing them with some real Apache designs.
The former graphics engine of «IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey» still gives out a good picture in Apache: Air Assault. It cleverly uses the system resources, but we felt that not all the available in-game maps were received enough authors’ attention. Some of them look rather generic, though we didn’t have too much time to look around, since the action rarely stops here. The game world has a lot of destructible elements including falling trees and burning grounds, so you’d enjoy looking at how a place changes after the combat ends. It is also possible to destory forests uncovering the enemy troops hiding there.
The sound effects are authentic and enstrengthened with the radio talks. The orchestral soundtrack includes some electronic arrangements as well. Particularly, we enjoyed listening to the main title while browsing the in-game menu.
Apache: Air Assault is a very enjoyable and authentic attack chopper simulator. Entertaining gameplay, realistic flight physics and multiplayer options will surely delight the fans of this specific genre. At the same time the thoughtful difference between the difficulty modes can open this particular niche of flight simulators to new gamers, giving them an opportunity to experience flying a real Apache.
Apache: Air Assault
Apache: Air Assault
This Flight Simulator letting you to take control over famous combat helicopters. The game was created by the Russia developers from the Gaijin Entertainment studio known for their console game - «IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey».
Description from the Publisher:
Embark on a flight on the famous «Apache» – the best helicopter of the U.S. Army in the end of XXcentury. By controlling the center of this high technology and firepower, you’ll participate in air strikes, supporting missions and look for targets deep behind enemy lines. At your disposal are the anti-tank «Hellfire» and «Air-to-surface» missiles with laser guidance, which will remove any enemy’s threat.
To protect civilians from violent pirates on the coast of Africa, to destroy the terrorists in the mountains of Central Asia and to take a part in the air battle over the jungle of Central America – the pilot of the legendary “Apache” can solve any problems.
- All the real thing. Sixteen multi-stage operations involving air and ground missions deployed in real-world locations.
- Freedom of choice. Thanks to the advanced mode of choice, set the level of the game, depending on your skills. Get involved in a beginner’s fight in «Training mode», which provides useful battle experience. Then try out all the features of a combat helicopter in the «Realistic mode».
- Joint Forces. Mode of playing together on a local network for the two players (only available on consoles): one will take the pilot’s seat and the other one will become a gunner.
- Network battles. Thirteen special missions can be performed not only alone, but also playing on the network with the team of 2-4 participants.
- Experienced creators. Flight Sims developed by experts from Gaijin Entertainment are well known to the fans of the genre throughout the world.