Apache Air Assault from Activision is a fresh look at what was once a very hardcore area to be gaming in, and normally before you even started the game needed some sort of degree to have any chance of understanding the manual. Now what Apache Air Assault does, is change that unwritten rule of over completed controls and huge manuals that could be used as a lethal weapon (in fact it throws it out the window completely) and what you get is a very playable arcade game with a lot of good features.
When you do start the game, the very first task is a very well done training mission which makes you fly to different nav points and do things like hover and lock on targets and change weapons. You end the training mission in a war like environment which leads onto the 2nd mission. Now before I carry on I can hear you flight sim people saying “don’t you need 2 people to fly an Apache?” Well yes, you do and this is a good part of the game – you can go into an ‘auto hover’ which is great if you’re not getting shot at. With another press you can then switch to the gunner position which gives you Full control of the HUGE gun at the front and an array of optic views to spot people on the floor. This can come in handy when you have to support people on the ground. I should also say that the missions you fly in are very well put together. In terms of mission content you will have the main mission, which will be broken up into objectives, which keeps it simple so it lets you do more fun things like thinking you are flying Airwolf and raining fire down onto your enemies. Good times!
When it comes to controlling the helicopters in the game you have 2 options: easy and realistic. I tried both. There is a huge jump from easy to realistic and I found myself leaving it on easy because it was very hard to try and target enemies while keeping the helicopter the right way up. Lawn-mower helicopters are definitely not the way forward!
Another game mode that Apache Assault has, and I thought this was a great option that we don’t see much in other games and really we should, is a free roam option. This lets you fly around as much as you want, for as long as you want in all the campaign locations of the game shooting anything that moves until you get to the point of boredom or death, whichever comes first.
Now I have always had problems with flight sim combat games in the past when it comes to graphics and terrain, sometimes they can be very basic, and I did find the detail of the game at the start very simple but as you progress through the missions and go to different locations, some areas have breathtaking vistas such as flying over tightly packed trees in a jungle mission or hovering over a large bodies of water taking out boats. I do have some gripes however; sometimes when I was flying over small villages I found myself thinking I was looking at Google Earth with the 3D option turned on, and at times the models on the ground seemed quite flat. It just felt like an after thought which took something away from the game’s atmosphere. But overall Apache Air Assault does not disappoint visually.
Another element of the game I found pleasing was the soundtrack. Picture if you will Independence Day when the President is giving his speech to boost the morale of the troops that are about to fly out and you get the music building and building until you get this big finish – that is what you get with Apache Air Assault. I found myself on a number of missions making it harder than it really was due to the music building the tension. In addition to this the sound of you launching your missiles and the audio from the Apache itself all come together to bring this game to life.
I felt that the single player is good, but the co-op available is great and even the local play is not bad, but could be better as you share the screen with your second player. It’s not split screen, you literally share the screen, but if you over look that the whole multiplayer really opens the game up and it gets even better when you get another 3 of your friends online. Then the fun really gets going.
Overall I found Apache Air Assault a great game to play and aside from a few flaws it really did surprise me a few times. I think if you’re a person into hardcore combat it will suit your needs when you switch on the ‘realistic’ setting, yet if you just want to fly around shooting the bad guys with your friends then it will suit you aswell. Activision have done a great job, and maybe we will get some more games of this genre coming to consoles in the future. One can hope!