Apache: Air Assault Xbox 360 Review

December 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – Activision – Developer – Gaijin Entertainment – Genre –  Action/Flight Combat – Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3

We’re not short of flight combat games, well ones featuring planes anyway. Poor old helicopters on the other hand are mostly ignored by developers. So with Apache: Air Assault Gaijin entertainment (developer of the likeable but flawed I-L 2 Sturmovich: Birds of Prey) have found a bit of a niche.

Like their previous game, Gaijin Entertainment has attempted the somewhat difficult task of pleasing both the arcade-y and simulation fans. To begin with there are two difficulties, of which will please both types of gamers.

The easiest on offer is training, which allows for easy navigation of your Apache, but limits your mobility somewhat and, in comparison to realistic mode, your Apache feels slow and not very exciting to control, it’s hardly Ace Combat with helicopters then, but it’s still adequate if you just want to blow things up without anything else getting in the way.

There are 13 online missions, with plenty of variety amongst them and scope for some memorable moments, but sadly there's currently not many people to play them with.

For those that are seeking a richer, less cartoonish game, realistic will come as a welcome choice. Full control of your helicopter is granted to you and on top of trying to prevent enemies from shooting holes in your helicopter, comes the additional challenge of simply keeping your Apache in the sky. It will take a bit of time and effort to master, but for those that do it’s ultimately a more thrilling and fulfilling experience than what training mode offers.

There’s a tutorial that does a reasonable enough job of teaching you the basics of the game with both control schemes, though it misses out some vital information such as landing and doesn’t tell you the fact that flares are released automatically to thwart missile attacks. Much of this omitted information is relayed to you through the loading screens, but this simply shouldn’t be the case.

Whilst efforts have been made to make the game authentic on the realistic difficulty, the very game like lives system implemented is at odds with this, even more so than a checkpoint method would have been.

Veteran difficultly however, unlocked through completing the game, will give you just one life and, whilst your Apache handles identically to realistic, ammo no longer replenishes automatically and instead you must land at a helipad to resupply. It will all come as welcome additional challenges for those who have mastered the realistic difficulty, but perhaps only should be really attempted by those that can just about play realistic with their eyes closed.

Enhancing the realism of the game are the Apache’s aesthetics. The cockpit view is authentic and, if you’re able to read the various numbers and such, it can even assist you in flying, whilst the exteriors look suitably chunky and intimidating.

There's a free flight mode, which allows you to tweak various factors and better become acquainted with your Apache before tackling the main missions.

The campaign mode has 16 missions and Gaijin Entertainment has done a commendable job of keeping things from becoming too repetitive by keeping your objectives fresh. So one might see you blowing an enemy structure to kingdom come, whilst another might see you protecting ground troops as they try to resolve a hostage situation.

The campaign can also be played in offline co-op, with one player taking on the role of pilot, whilst the other takes on the duty of the gunner. You share a screen, of which can cause some frustrating situations from time to time, for instance if the gunner zooms in to get a better view of his target at the wrong moment, the pilot can end up crashing into the unseen ground. It requires a well coordinated team and, like much of the rest of the game, a bit of practice doesn’t go amiss either.

Even though it’s the realistic and intricate flight simulation side where most of Apache: Air Assault’s satisfaction lies, there’s still enough here to appeal to a wide spectrum of people. It isn’t without its faults, but it’s still a great game that is well worth a look for fans of the genre.