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|Simulator Games, Flying Games
Helicopter flight-sim action reaches new heights with the release of Apache. Up to eight players (over a network) can soar in air-to-air combat that includes preplanned missions as well as the ability to access complex, detailed, missionplanning features. Navigate your AH-64 Apache Longbow across terrain that's rendered with amazing detail, thanks to new 3D visual technology.
With all the flight simulators on the market, it's a challenge for a consumer to figure out which is the best game to buy. One of the major problems when purchasing this genre is the perfect mixture between realism and fun.
If you pick up a sim that has all the aspects a real aircraft has, the game will be too tedious. You will probably need to read quite a bit of the manual before you can get your "bird" off the ground.
If it's realism you're looking for, then you've purchased the perfect product.
But if the game is lacking realism, it will probably be a simple flight engine that won't require too much reading or training to actually get behind the seat. This is great for the average player, but simulators aren't for getting your feet wet. They're for experiencing flight at its highest realism level.
I believe most of the helicopter sims out are focused on the combat aspect. They aren't really true sims when it comes to the actual flight characteristics of a helicopter.
Interactive Magic has come up with the best of both worlds: Apache. For inexperienced players, boot the game up and fly in a matter of seconds without reading the manual. There are several different modes that anyone can play in:
The Invincibility Mode is pretty self-explanatory: It allows the player to jump into the game worry free. The Arcade Mode is a bit more difficult, because you can be shot down at any time.
The highest level of flight is the Realistic Mode. This mode can be challenging and frustrating at first because to change air speed, you must use a certain amount of pitch by tipping the nose of the helicopter up or down to gain forward momentum while at the same time constantly monitoring your altitude. This is exactly how a real helicopter is flown. It will take a while to get used to.
The difference between the Arcade and Realistic is that unlike the Realistic Mode, in Arcade, the joystick affects the forward momentum without affecting altitude. This means that you will give up a lot of realism, but will have fewer crash and burns.
Apache is one of the few titles that can offer any player the ability to plug and play. It also increases the challenge of the game in many different ways.
The simulation is based on the AH-64D Apache Longbow, and features some of the best-looking 3-D effects I've seen in a sim. As far as combat goes, no expense was spared. It offers three real-world geographic areas in Central Europe, the Gulf and East Asia, encompassing an area of over 2 million square miles.
Before heading out to save the world, it's a good idea to check out the training missions in the game. In preparation for a full campaign, learn basic skills of flying at Fort Hood, like weapons training, precision landing and formation flying.
When you feel confident enough to take over a small country, choose to start one of the campaigns. There are over 60 play levels to challenge even the most sophisticated pilots. I've played many sims, and nothing ever impressed me as much as Apache.
The game has a really neat feature that allows two people to play at the same time. One player takes on the role as the pilot, and the second player has all the duties of a gunner.
If Two-player Mode isn't enough, the game will allow up to 16 players to battle each other via a network.
Not only is the flight engine down to the very last detail, so is every aspect of the game. The weapons system is identical to the real thing, including a full integrated helmet and display sight system. The majority of all the information you need throughout a mission will be conveyed to you through your instruments and gauges located on one of the two cockpits available: the pilot and the co-pilot/gunner.
Lastly, a lot of flight sims' graphics suffer when pixels are enlarged close to the screen. What this means is that if you're 4,000 feet up in the air, the terrain will look picture perfect. Now see what happens when you're 75 feet in the air or an enemy flies right in front of you at a high rate of speed. The image gets blurry and pixelated, taking away from some of the realism. In Apache, a new low altitude 3-D terrain technology was used to solve that problem. The end result is a game that offers not only true realistic flight, but also the high-end graphics to back it up.