As a pilot for Team Apache: Helicopter Combat, players are in charge of dissolving a Columbian cartel, maintaining choppers, and exploring the skies above Colombia, Utah, and Russia. Three types of play include training in six missions, network games for up to six players, and a real-time campaign that includes air combat, destruction of defenses, pilot rescue, chopper recovery, and escort missions. Pretend pilots will select a crew based on combat experience and leadership, and then send them out to keep the skies safe and the area drug free. Multiple views including enemy camera and cockpit view keep the action on the screen at all times. Six players have the option to engage in a game of "Deathmatch," "Capture the Flag," protecting or attacking a convoy, or guns only.
If you're looking for a great flight simulator that won't put you to sleep with 3D accelerated renditions of the Golden Gate Bridge, then this is the game for you. Team Apache captures the look and feel of a real Apache attack helicopter. (Well, I thought so ... not that I've ever really been in one. But if you watch enough documentaries on U.S. air power, then it's just like being there, right?!?)
The game flows smoothly and doesn't leave you bored. Usually, when I pick up a flight sim, I dread having to read the 300 page flight manual in order to learn how to play. I hate having to get an university degree just to play a video game. For some reason, that wasn't the case with this game. Even without reading the entire flight manual, I was able to play the game simply from the training missions and cheat-sheets they give you.
The graphics are awesome, especially with a good 3D accelerator. The 3D engine showcases the terrain detail, weather effects, and numerous ground objects. The physics and flight modeling are also great. I felt I was actually learning how helicopters fly and maneuver in real life and how wind resistance can impair flight or be used to complement it.
The frame rates are lightning fast, and no detail seems to be overlooked when it came to the battle damage you inflict on enemies or you sustain yourself in battle. You are allowed to blow everything up, from enemy tanks, boats, bases, and infantry to churches and buildings. Even structures and units on your own side! The explosions are first rate, and the shock waves and lightning strikes leave you reeling. The multiple views are not only pretty to look at, they are actually useful in the heat of battle.
Team Apache didn't skimp on the variety of gameplay either. After your training missions, you can go right into 'Instant Action', which is a fast-paced arcade-style option. You can go into 'Combat Missions' which are stand-alone missions where you can choose between a variety of mission profiles ranging from search-and-destroy to recon-and-rescue. You can start a campaign where you play in a real-time scenario and your performance on a series of missions determines the outcome of the game. In the campaign option, you're allowed to choose pilots with varying degrees of skill and different personalities, all of which affect how they act in battle. So it's never the same game twice.
The controls work like a charm, and respond as quickly as you can press the buttons. They may not have quite enough depth for really hard-core flight sim gamers, but can be learned quickly enough by the average gamer to have a wide appeal, even for novices in this genre. This is an important element in simulation style games. All too often, sims can bog a player down in so many details that even getting started is a chore. That wasn't the case here. The realistic graphics, gameplay, and controls made me want to read the 108 page flight manual. This says a lot about the game.
Like a good book, this game gave you just enough of the initial taste of what it had to offer, to draw you further into its world. The job of a simulation is to mimic reality as close as possible, and bring you, the gamer, into a realistic environment where you wouldn't normally find yourself. That being the objective here, Team Apache delivers.
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