For about 6 months now, Jane's Combat Simulators by Electronic Arts have ruled the skies so to speak. With hits such as Longbow 2, F-15 and a host of others there has not been any stellar competition that offers the same quality graphics, gameplay and sound that EA offers. However, the gap between other simulations and the ones by Electronic Arts is now becoming smaller thanks to Team Apache by SIMIS, a UK based developer. I'm probably going to get flamed if I do not say it so here, EF2000, just to set the record straight for you hardcore sim fans.
At I started the game I ran the most generic executable file, there are 6 of them. When I started my first mission I was impressed with the graphics. I then realized that it was not even using my 3DFX card yet and the graphics were still very impressive and generally fast with the software renderer. Keep in mind I have a P200 so I can imagine the speed of the software renderer on a P2. Therefore, right off the bat this game gets a good grade for graphics since it is scaleable. Switching to my Voodoo card made a better difference in frame rate and features such as Hardware generated fog, shading and of course a faster frame rate. One press of a button instantly switches to night vision very smoothly and helps tackle dark missions. When other vehicles are on the screen the frame rate does not drop very much and the textures on the buildings and tanks are great. As is the case with other simulations, Team Apache is no different in providing the pilot with numerous amounts of views and zooming capabilities.
I was a bit disappointed that no Advanced Sound options existed, which has become the norm now in most Electronic Arts games, however, the usual cool sounds do exist such as when you are looking to the left and hear a sound from the right it is softer and a bit distorted as well. To be honest the best sound feature in the game is in fact the excellent tutorial options, which is only available by the speech addon by the way. Each tutorial is very in depth, and I mean that, in that it goes through absolutely everything a person would need to know before performing the task at hand. This was really well done and I tip my hats off to the designers for suiting to the needs of the newbie who does not even look at a simulation box in the video game store, like me. One annoying feature, however, is that they is no way to skip the speech. This is very bad since if you fail a training mission, which is very common, there is no restart option, therefore you have to exit and restart the mission there by hearing the comprehensive speech again.
Simulation fans will appreciate this title since it adheres to the hardcore sim fan who likes to keep his or her eye on every detail in the cockpit and also likes to have control over every function as well. I initially tried the game with a keyboard and found the controls to be very difficult and sensitive. However, with a joystick, especially one with a third axes throttle, the game blasts off and control is not sacrificed. Players will have to learn the basics of knowing how to keep the copter hovering, which is considered a very basic skill, when destroying a target. This is not Extreme Assault so if you want to play with the big boys you have to take your time and master the controls.
Although this is not my favorite type of game the game is considerably fun for someone who is looking for reality rather than action. Players will find enjoyment in such real life tasks as refueling gas and running out of ammo in the heat of the battle. It will make them realize that in the real world power ups do not exist and for someone who is looking for a simulation which provides them with reality rather than fantasy this is a title for them.
Since vehicle targets and human opponents are very sparse on the battlefield, as in real life, the multiplayer engine is quite fast. This is where the fun part of the game is enhanced because there are not many things that are more exciting than watching your best friend's copter realistically crash while you hover overhead.
This is a pretty good game, and I suggest you pick it up.