Apache: Air Assault Review

In most games these days, controlling a vehicle is just a portion of the game, with flight sequences being an even shorter experience Halo: Reach, Black Ops, GTA IV being some examples. Games based purely on being stuck in a cockpit have been successful over the years, but of late have gone into hiatus. And there hasn't been a stellar, must-have flight game in a long time. Apache Air Assault attempts to cash-in on the modern warfare trend in gaming by putting you in an attack helicopter as you battle warlords and corrupt powers all over the world.

You pilot an Apache helicopter, and in this game you pinball all over the world from deserts to snowy peaks to rainforests as you carry out freedom missions against anti-air trucks who are up to no good. Your tutorial mission does good enough to explain the mechanics of playing training mode, but leaves out key elements such as being able to land on an LZ to reload. And you'll be even less prepared to tackle realistic mode. For any gamer unfamiliar with flying games, or those who are not looking for self-inflicted torture will find that playing the game in training mode provides more than enough fun.

Each mission starts with a brief rundown of what is going on, but by no means are there any powerful story elements in this game. The missions are progressively objective-based, meaning you go to here, kill some trucks, and then go to the next place to kill more trucks. One of the easy details to overlook is that you don't have to kill all the enemies on the ground, just the ones tied to the objective. Each objective is somewhat diverse from the next, such as defending a location, chasing down units, or fighting other choppers. Some missions are short and others are very long, but the variety in the settings and weather conditions helps the game feel fresh with each level.

Said trucks are no push-overs, but they may be given great strength thanks to the game developers. The enemies are deadly accurate at long distances, have a very limited hit radius (especially on water), and once you get to reloading your auto-flares, you're pretty much done for as the incoming missiles will tee off on you; worse when these flares fail at times. It helps a little that your CPU co-pilot assists on the machine guns, but you're only left with line-of-fire rockets or eight homing missiles to do your best damage (there is a third special type of gun, I could never figure out how to fire it). It's fun to go into the special sights to spray bullets, and these sights feel very authentic, but staying stationary in the air for long usually ends in disaster.

There is a huge difference between flight simulators and arcade flight games. Arcade flight games will reduce the steering to as few controls as possible, while being slightly harder to control than a first person shooter without gravity. Flight sims take that to the next level and make staying in the air and under control a huge challenge. Apache Air Assault allows you to choose either of these difficulties from the start. Training mode is the arcade-ish mode that allows you to easily jump into the combat and just play the missions. Though training mode reduces the challenge of staying in the air, you still need to be aware of your velocity in proximity to your surroundings. Realistic mode does the opposite of training, making you focus on your flying which may make combat much more difficult. And by completing the game in realistic mode, you can further reduce the game's ease in Veteran mode which decreases your attempts and makes your weapons no longer reload.