Apache: Air Assault is not a simulation, it is not the next JCS Longbow 2 or a high-end, detailed simulation like DCS: Black Shark. WhatApache: Air Assault is a very well made and fun action game where you get to pilot and gun three different types of Apache gunships and a Mi-24. If you get that fact through your head from the beginning, then you will see the glory of this game, and will have plenty of fun.
Apache: Air Assault is developed by Gaijin and produced by Activision. Apache: Air Assault was released for PC, Xbox 360, and the PS3 platforms, and all versions play almost the same. Gaijin is also the developer who made the successful Birds of Prey and the PC version, Wings of Prey. You can tell their work because the layout, format, and design decisions are all pretty much the same approach. That’s good, because it works well.
Apache: Air Assault comes with a non-dynamic 17 mission campaign. The campaign takes place in three different theaters of operation, all fictional for political correctness sake. You will take on insurgents in a mountainous region, pirates in the African waters, and drug cartels in Central America. Now with the Xbox 360 version and the PS3 version (but not the PC version) you can play this campaign in single player or local co-op, meaning two players on the same console. One as the pilot and one as the gunner, but you share the same view.
The campaign is fun and varies. You could be escorting friendly forces to the front, or attacking an enemy held town, or protecting another downed helicopter, or hunting pirates in the open waters. This is a game so there are many many enemies, waves of them that you’ll have to take out with either Hellfire missiles, rockets, sidewinders, or the chain gun. You’ll run out of ammo but in the training and realistic levels they will reload in time. In veteran mode you will run out and have to land at a near-by friendly LZ (landing zone) and rearm and repair/refuel. You have to play the campaign in the lower levels to unlock veteran mode, which I personally prefer it to be an option from the get go.
The campaign graphics and sounds are very well done, the game play is fast and furious compared to a simulation where your flight would be task with one or two objectives and you would have other support. You’ll kill a hundred enemies only to get new orders to fly somewhere else and kill a hundred more. It can get a little ridiculous, especially when you have 15 enemy tanks, other vehicles, infantry, and pesky AA units. You’ll take a lot of damage, and eventually crash. On the lower levels you have quite a few number of re-spawns, but on veteran mode you only have one. I think you shouldn’t have any.
Overall the campaign is fun, fast and furious. It’s a little over the top, but that’s to be expected with this action genre.
Squad Operations Mode
Apache: Air Assault also contains 13 squad operation missions. These missions are separate from the campaign and really built for 2 to 4 players in cooperative mode. Each player flying and controlling their own gunship. It’s also my favorite and most played mode. The missions are very similar to the campaign missions where you have to kill an insane amount of enemies, but with friends it is a lot of fun and very intense at times, especially when you’re the last man alive. As long as one man is alive and fighting, your friends will respawn back in in 10 seconds time. Sure not very sim like, but fun. If everyone dies, the mission ends in failure. You can play these missions also in single player mode giving you even more single player action. You can play them on any of the levels, we (the SimHQ clan) started the first couple of missions on training but then quickly moved to “realistic” mode, which gives you the better flight model, but same amount of insane ammo and ammo reloads. We are still working on unlocking veteran mode.
Free Flight Mode
Free flight mode is for single player only, which is unfortunate because if it worked in cooperative mode too, it would add to the longevity of this game. In free flight mode you pick all the options, kind of like a quick mission builder. You can change the type of aircraft, ammo load out, enemies, friendly forces, and difficulty. It’s a well done tool that will add life to the single player mode.
Replays and Leader Boards
After every mission you can go directly into watching the replay of the mission you just did, or you can save it for viewing later. Once you load and watch a replay you’ll have the regular in game views and the action camera view. I do wish they would have added more camera views and features so we could have seen more of the battlefield and action. Apache: Air Assault keeps a leader board, like most games now a days. You can see how you stack up to your friends and all other players. The number of missions done, kills, air kills, deaths… etc etc.
What is cool about the leader board is that you can share one replay with everyone else. There will be a little film icon next to your name and others can download the replay and watch it. Great for that “oh I can’t believe that happened” story. Note. As of yet I keep getting an error message when checking out the leader board on PC, but it’s working fine for the Xbox 360.