Hind is Digital Integration's sequel to Apache, its highly successful Apache helicopter simulation. While Apache had us skirting with familiar territory, Hind takes us into a whole new area. The star of the game is the Mi-24 Hind D helicopter, the latest in the long line of Russian assault helicopters. While the Americans breed attack helicopters with only one purpose and one function (to kill), the Russians have a whole different outlook for their assault helicopters.
Russian helicopter doctrine dictates that all helicopters will have some cargo/troop carrying capabilities, which gives helicopters like the Hind a much more varied mission pool from which to select. This also gives a game based on such a helicopter a wider variety of missions to fly. Where as a game based on a pure attack helicopter, such as Apache, has most missions either scouting or killing things, the missions in Hind can include those types of missions plus troop insertions and extractions, rescue operations, cargo drops, and so on.
Hind comes in two flavors, MS-DOS and Windows. The two versions are identical in features and looks, so there doesn't need to be any discussion between the two. Once the game is installed, you have a plethora of options to choose from. Once your graphical, difficulty, flight model, and control options are selected, you have four ways to play the game. First you'll want to go to the pilot's log area and create your in game persona, from there it's off to the game.
The game includes training missions, single missions, campaigns, and multiplayer options. While the training missions only take place in one arena, the other options give you a choice of three, Afghanistan, Korea, and Kazakstan. These arenas vary greatly in many arenas including landscape, enemies, terrain variation, weather, and so on, and give the game a lot more variety. Once you've chosen your mode, you'll be taken to the planning screen, which is still the best in the business. Waypoints may be added, changed, or removed, weapon load-outs may be selected, briefings may be reviewed, targets may be viewed and chosen, and so forth. Since its inception in Tornado, this still is the best mission planning screen around. Now let's talk about the gameplay modes.
The first mode of play is the training mode. In this mode, a well-acted voice (complete with Russian accent) describes the training mission you'll be partaking in. There are several training missions to choose from, and they cover every aspect of the Hind's unique mission capabilities. While the missions aren't as comprehensive as those found in Longbow, with its in-flight instructor, they do well enough without being too complicated. If you remember what your objectives are, you'll probably be okay.
The next mode of play is the single mission. Each arena has about a dozen single missions to choose from, making for over thirty in all. Unfortunately, new missions can't be added, but the existing missions can be changed around for added variety. These missions run the full gambit of the types of missions available to the Hind, from rescues to search and destroy missions, you'll find it all here. This is also a good place to get some great practice for the campaign section.
Speaking of which, next we come to the campaign section. The three campaigns in Hind (one per arena) and dynamic, and are never the same twice. This is a great boon over the scripted campaigns included in other sims of this type. The campaigns each have a story and a background, which are explained in the game's manual. These campaigns can last a long time, and really give the sim long legs in the replayability department. Missions can also be created yourself in the campaign using the mission planner, for that final touch of finesse.
Finally, we come to the game's multiplayer suite, which is quite extensive. Firstly, we have the two player options, which can accommodate a modem, null-modem, or serial cable connection. This allows two players to either fly as wingmen or to fly in the same helicopter, with one player taking the role of pilot, the other of weapons officer. You can also fly against each other using the appropriate version of Apache, though helicopter deathmatches usually aren't as much fun as cooperative missions in two Hind's. You can also use a LAN for up to sixteen players. The game allows to you to fly single missions and campaigns cooperatively, allowing for a lot of multiplayer gaming.
Now that we've spoken about how you'll be enjoying the game, we've not yet spoken about the real star of this show, the Hind itself. Digital Integration seemed to go all out on the flight model in Hind, as it's one of the most difficult and challenging simulated helicopters I've ever had to fly. The game might be too realistic...for example, when using the realistic flight model, as soon as one gets airborne, one must apply some serious rudder, lest you'll have your helicopter spinning like a top. The rudder must be continuously applied if one is to fly straight and level, with emphasis on straight. The flight model, in its most realistic mode, has to be one of the best around.
The avionics for the Hind are also well modeled. If you're used to multiple digital displays in your chopper, you'll be in for a bit of a shock in Hind. The helicopter uses mostly analog gauges for the pilot's information, and one will have to get used to it if they've gotten used to our more modern American counterparts. The Hind also has a wider variety of weapons at its disposal than its American counterparts, from machine guns, to rockets, to incendiary bombs, to mines. This gives the hind a huge punch, and also allows it to cover different types of objectives all within one mission. One could very well have you on the way to lay mines, and then take out some tanks on the way back.
Personally, my favorite feature is the Hind's cargo carrying feature. This cargo bay allows you to extract and receive troops, conduct rescue operations, and even drop off cargo for the troops out in the field. This significantly improves the variety of the missions you'll have to fly. This also helps show off one of the game's coolest features, its little men. The game includes fully modeled infantrymen, for both your side and the enemy. This means that, if you land, go to an external view, then open your cargo bay doors during a troop or rescue mission, you'll see little men running to or from your helicopter. This really adds some spice to the missions, as you can actually see little infantrymen shooting at you also with small arms and shoulder-mounted rockets.
This game is one of the best of its kind, but it's not without problems. The game originally had very spotty sound effects that were fixed in a patch, such as the omission of the undercarriage sound. The game also isn't as stable as it could be, with some crashes in both versions of the game, before and after patching. These problems are severely outweighed by it's successes, of which the game has many.
Overall, while the game is looking somewhat dated today, it's still a highly playable and enjoyable sim, and one of the best helicopter sims out there (it's currently tied for my favorite helicopter sim with Longbow II). It's got all the depth, detail, and variety you could want from a hard-core attack helicopter simulation, plus the distinction of being the only sim to model the Hind at all. If you have any interest in air combat, helicopter combat, or even Russian combat vehicles, do yourself a favor and pick this up. Usually you can find it in a compilation called Front Line Fighters by Digital Integration, which includes fully updated and 3dfx-capable versions of Apache, Hind, and F-16 Fighting Falcon, which is a bargain if you ask me.
Graphics: Nicely detailed and pleasant looking graphics.
Sound: Good voice acting and moody music.
Enjoyment: If you like helo sims, this is one of the most enjoyable ever.
Replay Value: Almost three dozen single missions, three dynamic campaigns, mission planning and multiplayer options ensure a long life.
People who downloaded Hind have also downloaded:
Apache Longbow, Flanker 2.5, Gunship 2000 (CD-ROM Edition), Longbow 2, Mig Alley, Jane's USAF, Jane's AH-64D Longbow Gold, F-16 Fighting Falcon (a.k.a. iF-16 Fighting Falcon)
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