Gamescom 2010: Apache: Air Assault Preview - Getting Our Choppers Out
Written Friday, September 03, 2010 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
If you are staring at the title and wondering what the hell is going on then we can hardly blame you, Apache: Air Assault has managed to stealth its way into this years release schedule with very little in the way of fanfare. Considering it is being published by Activision the whole thing seems a little odd, but it is safe to say that this game is hardly for everyone. The best description would be Operation Flashpoint, in helicopters, with a much steeper learning curve. Are you ready to take to the skies? Just don’t be surprised if you don’t last too long.
The Xbox 360 has hardly had its fair share of realistic flight games, in fact flight games in general have had a pretty raw deal until the superb HAWX came along and even that title was certainly closer to the arcade end of the playability spectrum. What we have here is a game that is more about skilful piloting than unleashing death from above – though you do still get to do a heck of a lot of that too.
Developers Gaijin Entertainment, the Russian company behind the pretty decent IL2-Sturmovik, have worked closely with Boeing to create supremely realistic choppers for you to pilot, with every detail down to the sound of the engines being given the once over. It looks pretty decent too and you can use one of four different viewpoints to make things as authentic as possible, especially when you are sat in a perfectly sculped cockpit wondering what all of the dials do.
Controlling all aspects of your helicopter takes quite a bit of effort - too much pitch and you will end up in a mountain - so there are a variety of difficulty levels to help those unfamiliar to the genre. At the lower levels you get a bit more stabilisation assistance, replenishing weapons and the ability to take a bit more damage. Crank things up to veteran and you are on your own, requiring near perfect handling, a finite supply of weapons unless you head back to base to rearm and the ability to be shot out of the sky in a single hit. Considering you only get four attempts per mission before game over, then this is going to be one hell of a challenge.
The levels are also based on real-life satellite mapping too, though to protect everyone’s feelings all of the locations have been given fictional names. Suffice it to say that you will be flying over some tricky terrain and engaging in fire fights with ground, air and sea based threats. Luckily you have multiple weapons at your disposal to deal with your foes and they are all realistically handled too with rockets, missiles and cannons all offering a very real option. The cannon comes with heat and night vision modes so you can get up close and personal with your opponents, no matter the situation, and it really is like watching news reel style footage as a shell screams towards the target. Not to mention the awesome satellite tracking as you unleash a Hellfire missile and then go back to making a pot of tea – a slight exaggeration maybe. Each mission offers a different machine to pilot and a specific load out that best suits your objective, so things are constantly kept interesting.
The best thing about the game is hopefully going to be the depth of the campaign and online modes available to you. There are sixteen unique solo missions that can also be tackled in splitscreen with one man as pilot and the other as the gunner, and when you are done with that you can get up to four friends together for the thirteen unique co-op missions. Based on the developer's advice, these missions need as many players as you can get, so don’t expect that more people equals an easier ride. Had enough of toying with the AI? Well you can just go for a free ride over any of the levels and perfect your flight techniques or head online for some eight player deathmatch action. There is little doubt what people are going to prefer.
The game is actually looking pretty darn good, though there is no question that an out and out simulation of this nature is going to put a few people off. The scope of the levels and the near perfect detail in the flight, combat and terrain should be enough to draw people in though, and that may well see you hooked.
Get ready for take off with Apache: Air Assault come 19th November, 2010.