The HIND MI-24, known as the "bogeyman" by NATO ground troops, was the first production unit of the HIND combat helicopters developed for the Soviet Air Force in 1972. Several modifications led to the HIND A in 1974 through the HIND F in 1982. In 1975, the HIND A broke eight world records, including speed, climb rate and altitude. The HIND is a heavily-armed assault helicopter capable of transporting up to eight troops. Interactive Magic has come out with possibly the best helicopter sim to date (next to Apache -- which, unsurprisingly, was released by Interactive Magic as well). As a helicopter flight sim, HIND basically does it all. There are 130 missions in total that can be played in various levels of difficulty. There are 20 training missions located at Saratov, 10 single missions for Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and North Korea, and a campaign mode for each of these three, 30 missions each. Finally, there is a "quick start" or arcade mode that will get you into the action immediately. In Kazakhstan you play as a member of a Russian helicopter assault squadron ordered to snuff out rebel Kazakhstan troops. In North Korea, you play as a member of the North Korean air assault in a hostile takeover of South Korea. Finally, in Afghanistan, you are a member of the Russian air assault in a campaign against Mujahedin guerrillas.
What makes HIND stand out far above the rest is the wide range of gameplay options it has to offer, which are far too many for me to list here. To begin with, you can select between three different levels of flight control difficulty, novice, stable, and realistic. In novice mode, HIND is basically a helicopter sim with training wheels. Control is pretty stable and most of your attention can be focused outside the helicopter where all the action is happening. Realistic mode on the other hand is a completely different game. The first time I tried realistic mode, I thought my joystick wasn't calibrated correctly. Right as I took off, my HIND warbled over to the left like a drunken moose and blew up. Looking at the manual, I found out that it wasn't my joystick, but the natural flight handling of the HIND. Apparently, the HIND will yaw to the left on takeoff and has to be compensated for with a small amount of right tail rotor control. Another error I made was applying full throttle on takeoff; anything over 100% will blow out the engine -- and hence you. Stable mode is a perfect medium between novice and realistic.
Along with the various levels of flight difficulty to choose from, you can choose from a number of different playing environments. In the quick start or arcade mode, you are dropped right into the action. Everything is hostile, and your only mission is to destroy everything. I like to think of this mode as "pure fun mode." It's simply a blast to play. If you like blowing things up, including tanks, tents, infantry, jeeps, helicopters, planes, buildings and trains (yes, trains!) you will not be disappointed. The sound, which I'll get into later, made it better than anything else like it I've ever played. In basic training, there are no enemies; you simply complete a mission if desired. Training is the best place to start if you want to familiarize yourself with all the little nuances of the HIND and/or go for a simple joyride. If you want to try a single mission, you have a total of 30 -- ten for each scenario -- to choose from. Finally, if you want to take on a campaign, you can choose between the three scenarios consisting of 30 missions each. If you compare that to standard games that offer 30 or so missions total, you're looking at three times the value.
This is the only area where I believe the game fell short. Don't get me wrong; the graphics are decent. Everything is full 3D; I couldn't find one bitmap in the game. Frame rates were pretty smooth with all the options turned up. Perspective distances were realistic, and infantry and vehicles including ships, tanks, planes, helicopters and jeeps all moved about realistically. Night missions looked particularly sharp with the stars and moon about. A really cool effect was the lights on the runway and the planes taking off on the runway. The only thing that fell short was the lack of any detailed texture mapping. The terrain and objects in the game pretty much consist of solid colors. There is texture mapping, but it is very simplistic. It almost seemed more like Gourad shading than texture mapping. The graphics are nowhere near the quality of sims like Jetfighter III. I kind of like to think of the graphics for HIND as "old school," but as far as the solid-colored flight sims of the past, HIND's graphics are top notch and actually refreshing.or
As far as fight dynamics and control, HIND is probably as realistic as flight sims get. I've flown a plane for about thirty minutes, but never a helicopter, so I can't compare it to the real thing. Considering how much Interactive Magic has put into the game, I'd imagine it would be pretty close. As far as graphics are concerned, the true polygon-based 3D engine, along with other moving objects and their perspective sizes, all added to the realism of flying in open space. The only downfall to HIND that I could think of was the lack of any realistic texture mapping as seen in other sims like Flight Unlimited and EF2000. Based on my score, though, I do think that the best games aren't solely based on the best graphics.
Audio is where HIND shines. First of all, there is no annoying music to interfere with the intensity and realism of this flight sim. If you want music, put on your own. The sound effects are superb. You hear the constant communication between your comrades, complete with fear, despair and confidence. The sound of weapons being fired and the explosions are all the best I've ever heard. The best way I can think of describing the explosions would be the deep bass undercurrent and piercing impact of really, really close thunder. The sound simply takes the game to a different level. It gets your blood pumping and puts you on the edge of your seat. According to Interactive Magic, a high-end recording device was strapped onto to the chest of a HIND pilot to record all the sounds a pilot would hear during flight. Another note on the sound: if you have a good pair of headphones, use them for this game. The difference is amazing. In real flight you would be wearing headphones for communications to muffle the sound of the helicopter anyway.
Multiplayer support/experience: HIND supports two-player games via modem, direct link via null modem cable, or connection across a network. Two-player options include head-to-head combat, single missions in which you each fly your own HIND, and Pilot/WSO in which one of you is the pilot and the other the weapons system operator. HIND also supports up to a whopping 16 players across an IPX network. Network options include Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, where your objective is to destroy the enemies' headquarters.
Along with everything I've mentioned so far, HIND has even more really cool features. During night or dusk and dawn missions, you can choose between two different infrared views while in the WSO mode. HIND has introduced intelligent offensive and defensive infantry to the air combat/flight sim world. A couple of really cool missions involve dropping off and picking up troops. It is really cool seeing a couple of soldiers carry one of the wounded in a stretcher over and into your HIND. And finally, for the die-hard realistic flight sim buffs, HIND goes so far as to include such issues as ground resonance, dynamic rollover, vortex ring and so on. Weather and wind direction also play a part.
Installation and Setup
I could only get HIND to run in MS-DOS mode, so if you don't have your CD-ROM up and running in MS-DOS mode, get it going. I could not get it going in Windows 95.
IBM PC or 100%, DOS or Win 95 (both versions included), 486DX2/66 Mhz CPU or faster, SVGA video card, 2X or faster CD-ROM drive, 8 MB RAM, supports most popular joysticks, supports most popular sound cards
As far as the documentation, let's just say you could probably develop a certification exam on it, which is actually a good thing for a game as complex as HIND. Its 98 pages cover everything, with an index and table of contents. The layout is excellent. It starts off with an introduction to the game, and follows with information on quick start, flight options, mission briefing, cockpit, viewing modes, flying, weapons, multiplayer options, history & development of the HIND and Vehicle Inventory. You can also get the manual online by pressing SHIFT-F1 at any time. There is a list of all the keyboard controls on the inside back cover and the essential one-sheet cutout necessary for such games.
In the introduction of the manual, Interactive Magic states, "HIND has been designed to entertain the widest audience possible." I think it's pretty fair to say they have met their goal. The game can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. If you are the type who wants to just jump in and start blowing things up, HIND is for you. If you are a die-hard flight sim fan where detail and realistic flight controls are essential, HIND is for you. If you are new to the flight sim gaming arena and just want to learn how to fly a helicopter like the HIND, HIND is for you. If you want a game that will last, HIND is for you. Simply put, HIND is one huge and solid helicopter sim. (I bet you thought I'd end with something cheesy like "HIND is for you.") Out of a possible 100, I give HIND a 92.