Apache Air Assault
Posted 2 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
After releasing a quiet interesting air combat game last year (IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey), Russian indie developer Gaijin Entertainment returns with Apache: Air Assault...that’s right, a helicopter game. Not just a simple helicopter game though. A combat simulator where you get to control - according to the box art - the most lethal attack helicopter on the planet: the Apache AH-64. At first sight, any gamer wouldn’t feel the same excitement flow through their veins as Gaijin tends to sell it. For me however, they’ve already fooled me once. I didn’t care for Birds of Prey until I got to take it for a test spin at last year’s E3 with the final game making a nice impression on me. How could I not give Apache: Air Assault the benefit of doubt? Let’s see...
Both playable in solo or in two-player local cooperative mode, Apache: Air Assault’s campaign puts you in command as one of three different Apache crews (from the AH-64 Apache through the AH-64 Apache Longbow),tasked with stopping terrorist insurgencies happening around the world. The 16 multi-stage missions take place in three main fictional locations: South West Tazirstan, the African Republic of Lualia and the Central American jungles of Salcedo. Missions are quiet varied. One time you’ll be sent to protect helpless ships and other times you may be taking down enemy convoys. Playing in local cooperative split-screen is a drag though. Two players fly together as pilot and co-pilot in the same Apache. One is in charge of the chopper maneuvers while the other controls all of the weapons. One chooses to enter DVO or FLIR camera views while the other controls the aiming and weapons fire from within these views. Its a rather interesting way of playing but loses its novelty fairly quickly.
Does the game feature some kind of online gameplay? Yes it does. A 13-mission Squad Operation four-player online mode, which is also playable in solo or the subpar two-player local co-op set-up. Mind you, all Squad Operation missions were built with co-op in mind and better suited for online play. Not that you won’t have a good time playing by yourself, but it would be preferable to play with buddies. And don’t count on finding random people. The community is quiet dead. I’m sure that the forums are flooded with partner requests...that’s how I found mine.
The cooperative modes add an extra layer of fun to a somewhat deficient experience. The story is far from being interesting as it serves more as a simple set-up for the action. No character dialogs, no cut-scenes...nothing. All debriefings are provided via long text prompts...yes I know, very old school and highly unacceptable in this day and age. For some reason, Gaijin also decided to forgo any kind of competitive multiplayer. I don’t know why, but it would have been appreciated given the nature of the game.
In terms of controls, experienced air combat gamers will feel right at home. Throttling and Yawing are done with the right analog stick, while the left stick controls the Apache’s pitch, strafe and rolls. Controlling these beasts become a true challenge when playing in Realistic Mode, as the developer decided to ramp the flight physics’ realism up a notch. There’s also a Veteran mode, which applies the same flight dynamics as in “Realistic” but reduces the number of retry attempts from four to none. Pay attention Apache 101 certificate holders, there’s something here just for you.
The high level of detail of each chopper (especially when flying in cockpit view) is worth mentioning. That being said, I’m not an Apache connoisseur but seeing all those buttons, switches and meters did enough to make me feel like I was flying the real thing. Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn’t look as good. The environments are a mixed bag, often hitting ridiculously low-quality visuals when hovering low to the ground. Things do look a bit better from altitude, despite the lack of camera control in third person view. Someone didn’t want you to look outside the action too much. Then again, the game’s emphasis is on the combat, leaving you less time to admire the panorama anyway. This doesn’t excuse the poor visuals though. On the flip side, the orchestrated soundtrack fits the action extremely well and deserves my praises.
Apache: Air Assault isn’t as engaging, fast-paced and story-driven like Ubisoft’s H.A.W.X. 2 or even Gaijin’s own IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey. But it does have enough simulation charm to please fans and fill the heli-simulator void, should you be experiencing one.
+ Cooperative modes
+ Newcomers and experts both will find something to their liking
- Bland story
- Environments are a mixed bag
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Release Date : 2010/11/13
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Activision
Developer : Gaijin Entertainment
Category : Simulation
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
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