"Double Tap, this is Delta Hawk ... do you copy? Over." "Read you loud and clear, Delta Hawk, what can we do for you today? Over." "Double Tap, we have five, I repeat five heavy Tanks that just rolled out of the tree line, heading straight for us, what is your ETA? Over." "We have an ETA of five minutes, Delta Hawk ... do you copy? Over." "Roger that, Double Tap, we'll pop smoke to mark our area in four minutes ... over." "Roger that, Delta Hawk, hold on and we'll see you in a few ... Out."
Welcome, loyal readers, to the review of Apache Havoc. If that opening didn't get your heart racing, then head straight to the hospital to have your pulse checked. Apache Havoc is a combat flight simulator which showcases two adversary helicopters: the American AH-64D Apache Longbow and the Russian Mi-28N Havoc-b. You can choose to fly from either an American or Russian standpoint, and in multiplayer games players may choose to fly cooperatively or competitively.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Apache Havoc is one of those games that make you feel like you have a I.Q. of 7 the first few times you play -- or maybe I'm just slow, you decide. This was my first time playing a helicopter simulation game and I found it very tough to learn how to fly a helicopter gunship; it just defies the laws of gravity if you ask me. Once I learned the mechanics of flying I became totally immersed in the game environment, and that is a very high point for Apache Havoc. A good simulator game must make you feel like you are right there, and Apache Havoc scores big on that part. My two gripes about gameplay, though, are the lack of in-game training scenarios where you can learn to fly in relative peace and the relatively few combat locations. With regards to the first, you must learn to fly in one of the three geographic locations for the scenarios and campaigns, which reside in war zones. The game therefore gives you an overall hurried feeling when first starting out. It would be much nicer if you could train in an American or Russian base, where you could concentrate on learning basic game controls. It would also be nice to have some mock targets to learn how to operate your radar and weapons systems. As for the second, I would have liked to see more locations for combat instead of just three. There are a lot of current hot spots around the globe that would have made for some fun scenarios -- for instance Bosnia, or maybe Iraq, or an even better place would have been South and Central America. Another point that needs to be made is that you really need a joystick to get the most out of this game; you could play it with just the keyboard, but it just wouldn't be the same.
For the most part I just love the graphics in the game, but there are a few sore spots that need to be examined. They did an awesome job recreating the cockpit view; the different camera views available to you are also nicely done. The rendering of the other air and land vehicles was great, except I have no intention of getting that close to enemy vehicles during combat. The terrain rendering, however, was a letdown. They did a great job of creating steep hills and rolling valleys, but when a forest looks flat when you're flying over it because all the trees are the same size. Rivers also appeared to be flat; you would expect to see some rotor wash when flying low over a river. Overall, though, you can easily immerse yourself in the graphics of the game and get that feeling of "being there."
Audio is very important to a combat simulation game; it either lends itself well to the game or hinders it very badly. Thankfully, the audio in Apache Havoc works hand-in-hand with the rest of the game. When you first get into the cockpit you hear the air tower updating you on the current weather and giving you the "all clear for take-off" signal. While in-flight you have an on-board computer that tells you of any malfunctions or system failures. You also have a co-pilot in Apache Havoc who tells you when you are being tracked by radar, when you are flying too high, or when you have incoming rockets and missiles. All during the flight you also hear radio traffic from other air units and ground units. Overall, I was impressed with the audio; it really added to the realism of the game.
Windows 95/98, Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 500 MB free hard disk space, DirectX 6-supported 3D graphics card, DirectX supported sound card, 4X CD-ROM drive.
Recommended: Joystick, Pentium 233 MHz.
I hope everyone likes to read books, because you can't call this a game manual -- it is more like a four-hundred-page novel. That is not a bad thing, though, when it comes to steep learning curve games -- the manual is more than necessary because of how complicated it is to fly a helicopter gunship. This manual covers everything from A to Z in regard to playing and flying, so just take the time and sit down for a good day of reading.
I wish I could have had another two weeks to review this game. There is so much more to Apache Havoc and after two weeks I know I have just begun to scratch the surface of this fun and challenging game. I have a lot more to learn regarding my weapons and radar systems, so I'm confident in saying that the game will get better the longer I play and learn. Apache Havoc is a safe bet to purchase -- it will take you some months to get really good at flying, and by the time you have flying mastered you then get to tackle all the radar and weapon systems. So on that note, my gentle reader, I will give Apache Havoc a score of 82/100. You will learn and have fun for months to come.