What we thought
"There is no way the game's myriad of problems should have got past the play-testing team and the whole thing smacks of a rush job by the publisher."
What you said
- "Gunship! is a disgraceful product with such a collection of faults it would take a librarian on steroids to keep track of them. The throttle is the worst I've ever encountered in any game, both in terms of responsiveness and gradation of power. The autopilot doesn't work either, and there is no option to land and then turn off the engines. Trying to perform a simple act such as selecting the next waypoint requires pressing a wildly complex selection of keys. I only found this out on the Web, as the manual doesn't list the key commands accurately. I've only had this game a couple of days and played It tor an hour or two, so god knows what else is wrong with it. I only wish to hell I hadn't bothered buying it."
- "I can only agree with the sentiments expressed in your review -I wish I had read it before buying the game. In addition to the points mentioned, the fact you can't fly and fight from the same cockpit is ludicrous. You can't see what you are targeting or the choice of targets, and the game only distinguishes friend and foe in the easy level. You are dumped in the middle of the battle and can't pick out the anti-air targets to eliminate them first, so by the time you get to grips with the thing you are shot down. Patch my foot, the only thing Hasbro should be offering is a money-back return service for this rubbish."
- "I just wanted to congratulate Paul Presley on his review of Gunship! It is the most accurate review I think I've ever read. I am now wondering why your two major rivals both failed to outline the many shortcomings that are evident within a couple of hours of buying the game. Unfortunately, I found out about them the expensive way. Keep it up."
We pride ourselves on writing the only reviews you can really trust and this is just the latest example. Other magazines have just assumed that all these problems would be fixed in time for the game's release, without bothering to check with the publishers. And there's no excuse for ignoring the dozens of American websites (the game was released earlier in the States) where forums were full of complaints about the bugs. It only goes to show why you should always read our reviews before spending your pennies, no matter how good the graphics look on the box.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
- Game modes: Single game mode
- Up, Down, Left, Right - Arrow keys
- Start - Enter (Pause, Menu select, Skip intro, Inventory)
- "A" Gamepad button - Ctrl (usually Jump or Change weapon)
- "B" button - Space (Jump, Fire, Menu select)
- "C" button - Left Shift (Item select)
Use the F12 key to toggle mouse capture / release when using the mouse as a controller.
Back in the mists of time, a truly ground-breaking flight simulator came onto the market. Gunship had virtually no graphics at all, limited campaigns, non-existent AI and remains one of the best helicopter flight models ever released. Since then, there have been more Apache simulators than you can shake a stick at - from the truly awful Longbow through to the pretty reasonable Apache Vs Havoc.
Now Hasbro have a long and glorious reputation for extending the lineage of their products. Their current trend is to eschew numbering in favour of punctuation. So Gunship 3 is now Gunship! and the next instalment could be Gunship!!.
But enough of this. There are a whole lot of helicopter simulators out there right now, with several more hovering just beyond the horizon. So Gunship! is going to have to be pretty good, and initial impressions are that it won't disappoint. As you can see from the screenshots, the graphics are certainly up to spec, even if you can't tell the frame-rate from stills. The good news is that although the main aircraft is still the ubiquitous Apache Longbow, you also get to fly the Eurocopter Tiger should you wish to do so, as well as being the big bad Ivan in the Mi28 Havoc in multiplayer games. This is great, as is the fact that the variety of aircraft means that you can play in single-player mode as an American, a Brit or a German. Presumably, there will be a number of appalling 'voice talents' providing local colour as your wingmen and gunner for the different nationalities. But that's not the really exciting bit. Oh no. There's more...
For the first time ever (cue trumpet fanfare) a flight sim is going to be able to link up with a ground sim. Gunship! will be compatible with M1 Tank Platoon! which should ship some time later on next year, giving a real integrated battlefield. Now I get quite excited about this type of option because I reckon it's the way to go. I also remember that Hasbro, when they were still MicroProse, said that they were going to develop an electronic battlefield to link in with Falcon 3. That must have been about five years ago. So maybe we should treat this claim with a healthy degree of scepticism -although I truly hope that it's going to happen soon.
To sum up, Hasbro is claiming that Gunship! will be the most accurate helicopter simulator ever, and will boast realistic terrain, proper communications and a decent flight model. But then it would be, wouldn't it? It also models system failures, so I guess the Apache pilots will spend most of their campaigns waiting for spares. Anyway, Gunship! promises much, and on Hasbro's track record so far it may well deliver. I do hope so. Just watch this space.
Dear oh dear oh dear. MicroProse, what the hell happened? The world and his wife have been waiting for Gunship! to hit the streets (skies -Ed and you give us this. It barely qualifies as alpha code, let alone a finished game worthy of release.
Before we continue, a spot of background info: Gunship! is the third instalment of what is perhaps the most respected helicopter sim series the industry has ever known. The first Gunship appeared during the 8-bit Spectrum and C64 days. Gunship 2000 gave 16-bit owners a taste of the same and was one of the first titles to make effective use of wingmen and squadron-based tactics.
Gunship! is supposed to take us to the next level, simulating three different helicopters (including the brand new Eurocopter) and is going to be compatible with the forthcoming Tank Platoon!. One slight problem - MicroProse appears to have forgotten to finish it.
So Very Bad
Let us give you some examples of how inexplicably bad Gunship! is. At the start of every mission, you'll not only already be in mid-flight (despite numerous indications in both the manual and the in-game training voice-overs that you'll start on the ground at your base), but for some reason your helicopter will be spinning madly. You practically have to start flying the thing before it's even loaded just to get it under control.
Then there's the flight model. Throughout development we were led to believe Gunship! would be a hardcore sim. Since when can helicopters travelling at knots spin on a dime? Why can we hit the ground at speed and just bounce back up into the air - even on the most realistic damage settings?
Now we've seen how unrealistic it can be, MicroProse has started claiming it was making a tun sim instead. One aimed at the casual crowd. Which begs the question why so many sections of the game are so unintuitive you'd need a Master's degree in logic to understand them? Why do we have to press more than six keys just to select a waypoint (and why does it delete them along the way)? Why are we told a campaign mission Is over before we've even got to the first target, only to be told we've failed and have to play it over again just to progress (there are no dynamic campaigns here, just a linked series of single missions)? And why is there practically no control over your wingmen?
Also several of the commands and key controls don't work - at all. Try telling the computer-controlled pilot to turn while you're controlling the navigator. It won't happen. He'll say he's doing it, but it won't happen. Half the communication menu options have no effect either (several even differ from the options listed in the excuse for a manual). Not only that, but the frame rate drops as soon as you bring a menu up. Also, whenever you change views or bring up the navigational map, the computer AI takes control of your helicopter and starts flying you off in seemingly random directions, even when you've turned auto-hover on -annoying when you're trying to stay undetected from the enemy.
What Could Have Been
What makes it all so annoying is that you can tell, buried deep down under all this, there's a nice game screaming to break free. Graphically it's nothing short of astonishing with a much grittier and more realistic style than most sims. Even better, someone has finally managed to create a decent 'tree-top' experience in a helicopter sim. OK, the trees are a bit two-dimensional, but there are lots of them and skimming across their tops, watching tanks driving through the forest below you is an experience second to none.
The co-pilot/gunner's role is well handled too (providing you can get the pilot to respond to your orders), making great use of the targeting systems and infrared modes. The enemy units all behave in realistic manners, responding to your attacks by darting in and out of cover, dropping smoke grenades to cover their tracks and manoeuvring for position. The battle editor is also very nice, allowing for the creation of truly complex ground wars.
It's just so damn annoying that all of these really nice aspects are hindered by such shoddy execution of the actual simulation. There is no way the game's myriad of problems should have got past the play-testing team and the whole thing smacks of a rush job by the publisher. Why this has happened is somewhat of a mystery. Hoping to catch that important end-of-Lent audience? Of course the more cynical amongst us would probably suggest it was an attempt to preempt the imminent US release of the superior Comanche Havoc.
Hope For The Future?
Of course, even MicroProse's flight sims are rarely one-shot deals anymore. Take Falcon 4.0. Initially it was a game full of promise and energy, but one that was fundamentally flawed in execution. Half a year on, and, thanks to excessive patching, it's finally reached a state that lives up to its earlier ambition and is one of the best out there. Will the same happen to Gunship!? While we can't recommend buying it in its present state, there's certainly enough readily identifiable promise underneath all the problems to suggest keeping your eye on (the same unofficial team that made Falcon 4.0 live once more) to see what develops. There's unlikely to be much support from Hasbro who's made it clear that once Tank Platoon! and B-17 2 are out of the way, that's it for simulations from the MicroProse label.
Last month we suggested waiting to see what Gunship! offered before buying Comanche Hokum. Now we have no hesitation in recommending Empire's superb offering. It's easily the best out there and, if anything, Gunship! has made it look even better. Anyone with an interest in either helicopters or dynamic campaign engines should rush out and get a copy. We can only hope that B-172 sees MicroProse's simulation era go out on a high.
The only good helicopter games made for the home console are EA's Strike series. I will stand by that.The fact of the matter is that flight sims--be they plane, helicopter or hot-air ballon--are tedious, plain and simple.
It's not that the games are technically poor. On the contrary, most simulations are marvellous recreations of the real thing. But therein lies the biggest problem: they're realistic. Games like Desert Strike and Afterburner were arcade games that emphasized ease of playability with a lot of pyrotechnics, as opposed to realistic aerial combat. One didn't have to worry about the intricate ins and outs that make up true flying. In real life, there's a painfully large amount of downtime between combat and objectives. Now, while this is OK with real-life pilots, who would like to avoid being shot at, it sucks for those of us who like to fly by the seat of our Lay-Z-Boy. Sims are just plain boring and have no business on the console. Let them stay on the computer where they belong.
Gunship is no different from all other sims, insofar as you're hard-pressed to find anything to do. You spend a painful amount of time just trying to get into the vicinity of the enemy instead of blowing them up. Even worse, when you do blast the bad guys, your only reward is a distinctly sub-par explosion.
You can campaign in two theatres of operations: the Persian Gulf and Central Europe. While Gunship does offer an arcade mode for those not as interested in sims, it still lacks the breakneck intensity that gamers crave.
The game does have the depth for long-term play value, but I'm not sure why you'd want to play this game for long.
I'm sure hardcore fans of flight sims will enjoy Gunship, For those of you reading this, add one or two extra points to the overall score. If you're looking for some action, though, stay away from this title. It just doesn't deliver.
There are a couple of things you're going to need to know in order to succeed in this game. One is to play it from the cockpit view.This allows you immediate access to much more information than you need--like your co-pilot's comments. Another piece of advice is to make sure that you're mentally prepared for some serious tedium. I would recommend some No-Doz to keep you awake.
Graphics - 6
Sound/FX - 7
Gameplay - 5
Rating - 6
Flight lessons have never been necessary to play console air-combat games. The dogfights and P flight mechanics in these Afterburner-inspired "simulators" have always been more arcade-like than true-to-life.
Gunship, on the other hand, is a different kind of console flight game. From takeoff to landing, the helicopters you control in this port of the PC top-seller act and fight like the real deal-and are nearly as difficult to fly. This high level of realism means that first-time pilots will face a steep learning curve. It also means Gunship is a landmark title for the consoles, since no other game has offered such an accurate simulation of flight combat.
Gunship drops you behind the controls of a hangarful of military helicopters: The Apache and Super Cobra gun-ships, the Defender Scout, the Kiowa Warrior, the Blackhawk transport and the state-of-the-art Comanche gunship.
Once you create a pilot, you can fly a single helicopter in more than 100 training and regular missions. Your flights take you to two of the world's more recent hot spots: The Persian Gulf and Central Europe. You'll skim the terrain of these target-rich regions in varying weather and during both day and night missions.
Early sorties are simple search-and-destroy missions or surgical strikes, and success is rewarded with medals and advances in rank. Reach the rank of Captain and you'll get to fly the Comanche and a more advanced Apache. These copters carry smarter "smart" weapons and lend more brute force to-your battles.
Gunship has a strategic side, also. Once you become a second lieutenant, you can lead as many as five helicopters into battle. While you fly only one copter, you can order the other pilots in your flight to go separate ways and complete their own objectives.
Multihelicopter missions also give you more interesting things to do, such as going on rescue operations or scanning regions with a sensor-equipped Defender Scout.
Your officer ranking also grants access to the game's Campaign Mode, in which you'll lead your team of pilots through a full-blown war. The outcome of this war depends on how successful you are in each mission, so don't screw up and make Saddam Hussein a happy dictator.
True to real life, your helicopters aren't all that easy to fly (although you can choose an option that allows for simple-albeit unrealistic-flight control). Unlike fighter planes, helicopters have separate joysticks for controlling flight direction and altitude, and the PlayStation joypad emulates this complex dual-control system. (Unfortunately, the game isn't compatible with Sony's new dual-control analog flight stick.) The D-pad turns your chopper and guides it forward and backward, while the R1 and R2 buttons are used to change altitude. Using these controls in unison takes some getting used to, but with practice you'll soon be zipping over trees and through valleys like a pro pilot.
Of course, not every gamer wants to deal with all the details of real-life helicopter flight. Fortunately, Gunship offers a Quick Fire game that drops a heavily armed, easy-to-control Apache into the thick of battle. This mode makes for plenty of arcade-style destruction, but it's not what sets the game apart from past flight games.
That fact that you can walk away from Gunship nearly ready to fly a real helicopter is what makes this game stand out Gamers should check it out!
Sure, you can fly six different helicopters in Gunship and load them with lots of different weapons, but you'll only need one helicopter type--the Apache--to accomplish most missions. The Apache is most capable when it's loaded with eight Hellfire and four Stinger missiles. Stingers knock down airborne targets, while Hellfires destroy everything else--and Hellfires will take out targets as far away as six miles. The only downside to Hellfires is that they're laser-guided, so you'll have to keep your Apache--and its laser beam--pointed in the direction of the enemy while the missiles ride the beams to their targets.
You don't want to spend too much time flying high through Gunship's unfriendly skies. The helicopters under your control are slow and noisy, giving the enemy forces plenty of time to shoot you down well before your weapons can touch them. You'll need to keep your chopper low to the ground and follow the terrain. This type of flying--termed nap-of-the-earth flight by the military--lets you use ambush tactics and stealth to pulverize the enemy. When you approach a target, slow to a hover behind an adjacent hill, then pop up from behind the hill and rain rockets down on the opposition. Don't hang in the air too long, though, or you'll end up eating missiles from retaliating enemies. Drop back into hiding again and wait until the smoke dears. Repeat this pop-up tactic until all the enemy formsin range are destroyed.
- MANUFACTURER - Microproge
- DIFFICULTY - Moderate
- THEME - Simulation
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Chances are that this game will be coming out rather soon, and if it does, I think you'll like it. You are in control of a heavily armed helicopter. You are the deadliest force in existence. Pilot deep behind enemy lines in such hot spots as the Middle East, and accomplish a wide variety of missions. These will range from seek and destroy, to hostage rescue. Things will definitely heat up once you enter the danger zone.
The opposition has anti-aircraft cannons, attack choppers, and LAW toting infantry. Overall, not a bunch of nice guys. The graphics look top-notch, and the cinemas are done well too. I also like the ability to choose your flight route. A pretty snazzy cartridge.
Take the joystick of the AH-64 Apache military attack helicopter in this upgraded version of the classic flight simulator.
Gunship features the AH-64 Apache helicopter. Your objective is to pilot the chopper through various terrains searching for enemies and completing mission objectives.
Create a pilot, select a duty assignment, and receive your briefing. Before taking off you have the option of changing the helicopter's armaments. After taking off read the map and head for your primary objective. Enemies are spread throughout every mission and come in many forms. Make sure to choose the proper weapons to use against infantry, helicopters, and tanks.
Gunship includes hundreds of missions and pilot promotions. Advance through the ranks and receive a variety of medals.
Snapshots and Media
Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Screenshots
Other Helicopter Games
- Fly! 2
- Gunship III
- Jungle Strike
- Thunderstrike 2
- Alien Breed: Impact
- Armada 2526
- Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
- Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf
- Gravitron 2
- Microsoft Flight Simulator X