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Apache Air Assault Review for PC
Bang Up to Date Air Combat
Apache: Air Combat is the latest Flight Simulator from the people who brought us Wings of Prey. It is a contemporary flight and combat simulation based around the Apache AH-64 and it's brilliant, but there are a few issues to think about before purchasing it.
1st things first, This is another game from the people that brought you Wings of Prey. That means more restrictive DRM (Digital Rights Management) meaning that you get 3 installs before having to ask for more.
Remember, this is only a problem if you have a hard disk crash, or re-install windows, accidentaly unistall the game, replace hardware in your computer or any other of the numerous daily occurrences of owning a PC for gaming.
That said, they will grant extra licenses, it's just a total pain in the jacksie. But enough of the DRM, what's it like when you get up in the air?
Well, first you have to get your joystick working, which took me about 20 minutes of faffing around to get all the settings right, so, just to give an example, when I fired the rockets it didn't change my camera angle to looking 45 degrees backwards, i.e. NOT BLOODY HELPFUL!!
But don't be disheartened dear reader, please continue, because now this little rant "ett" is out of the way, its all gravy from here on in.
Remember, if you need a sweet HOTAS to fly with, check out my review HERE
To check out the BEST Combat Flight Simulators for PC click HERE
What's it Play Like?
Right off the bat, Apache: Air Assault impresses. Lets be clear, the graphics are asounding, fluid, atmospheric, and I am running out of superlatives! It looks to me like the same engine as Wings of Prey, and it works brilliantly. The level of detail it handles is impressive, and it needs to be, as in this game you find yourself just over treetop level, or dropping down into a valley to avoid AAA or sam sites. Also, as we are flying genrally slower, you have more time to take in the scenery.
So, it looks great, what else? Well, there is the usual mix of campaign, that follows several pilots in diffrerent areas of the world, from Brazil to Africa. Then we have the co-op online gameplay, with a whole new set of missions. 2 modes are available, training and hardcore, but I found that the arcade style handling of the training mode actually hampered my ability to control the bird and pull off the maneuveres I needed to avoid threats.
This is a "target rich" environment. Having practically unlimited ammunition in training mode is an indicator as to just how much you are going to have to destroy in each mission. Realism this aint. But it is great fun, and there are nods to realism in the type of missions available. One mission may see you giving air support to a friendly downed helicopter, its crew pinned down in a town and attacked from all sides, whilst the next sees you flying down a valley to avoid AAA in order to eliminate an enemy strongpoint.
Whilst flying, you can choose from the pilots view, gunners view, a no cockpit view (Cheat!!) and also interestingly the FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) camera, where the chopper hovers and you control directly the gun and Hellfire missiles. The FLIR looks pretty authentic to me, and certainly brings you closer to the action, and I must admit it can be a little sickening to see the ragdoll physics effects throwing bodies around after a successful cannon attack.
Of course, no man in the modern military flights alone, and on many missions you get support from wingmen, or unmanned drones, and as previously mentioned ground forces. It does help the feeling of being a small cog in a big machine.
The actual feel of flying the machine is hard to quantify. To me, it feels like it should, with accurately modelled momentum. In other words, it flies nicely, and I could chuck it around exactly how I wanted to. There are several varients of the Apache to fly, but I couldn't see much difference except in the graphic depiction. The Longbow radar for example makes no difference in how the weapon systems operate in game. I found this surprising given that Boeing, the creators of the Apache have licensed the game.
Also worth a mention here is the weather. It is modelled, and looks great, right down to droplets of water gathering on the cockpit
DRM aside (I fully accept that they have the right to protect their IP), this game is great. Notice that I didn't say this "Simulation" is great. Its not a good sim, but it is a great game. I honestly enjoyed every minute, well, aside from setting up the joystick config.
Make no mistake though, Apache: Air Assault is an arcadey (is that even a word?) game, and it has a punishing difficulty curve, even on the easiest setting. Online is fun with a friend, and the set piece battles are superb. Even the story is passable, in a Tom Clancy style.
Overall, 8 / 10 despite its flaws. I have reviewd the PC version here, so if what I have said here about the joystick and DRM, why not check out the Xbox 360 version and treat yourself to a shiny new joystick whilst your at it !
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