IN THE BEGINING:
The original Gunship was designed by Sid Meier and "the great" Andy Hollis and released in 1986. Many rotor-heads of the computer sim genre cut their teeth on this masterpiece. Unfortunately the latest batch of cookies lost something in the ingredients. The latest installment has a watered down, arcade-like avionics, lack of engine controls, inability to jettison weapons and stores and lack of autorotation modeling, It does, however, do a few things the right way. It's shear graphics performance and interface come-off with an overall stunning presentation that would do it's predecessors proud.
OUT OF THE BOX:
If youíre looking for the most realistic flight model in the helosim genre ... don't look here. At least not yet. Some patches and utilities are in the works, but more on that later.
The manual is an 86 page booklet that seems a bit flimsy, but provided quite a bit of information for the newbie and veteran alike. Areas ranging from how to pilot the aircraft from each position, Basic Tactics, a helpful Vehicle Guide and how to use the wide array of weapons available. A well produced laminated keycard and jewel-case with no "cover-insert" also comes with the CD.
Gunships' flight model out of the box is anything but realistic ... or even that good. There are three settings to the flight model. Easy ... which resembles a fixed wing aircraft, Enhanced which takes out the weather effects that the realistic mode would have and makes the alterations in flight controls less pronounced, and the Realistic mode ... Which is said to "approach" real life flight. "Approach" is a forgiving word for it. The Tail rotor tends to rubber band the heading to the original course when trying to pedal-turn at higher than hover speeds. The ground effect is a bit exaggerated, banking is more-or-less like driving a bus, sideslip is exaggerated and collective input is a bit mushy.
Gunship! Gives you the chance to fly the AH-64 Apache, Westland Apache, Eurocopter Tigre or Mil-28 Havoc. Though you could fly the Apache variants in just about every helicopter sim out there, the Eurocopter Tigre was a nice change of pace.
It's interesting to get a chance to use the wire-guided Hot3 and infrared Trigat missiles from the gunnerís position in the Tigre. Having to keep your target locked while fighting the urge to take cover makes using the Hot3 missile a challenge. The Trigat infrared missile is a god-send relative to the radar-guided hellfire with it's "fire-and-forget" abilities.
The things that Gunship does right ... it does with a vengeance. The interface is rather easy to use. It's cute "MFD" view of everything is anything but original, but gets yah in the mood. The intelligence reports, weather, and mission planning are a welcome site that is seldom seen in this genre.
The Singleplay missions are the only way to go if you want to get your "quick-fix". And believe me ... the AI will fix you right up. More than 10 seconds out in the open and youíre dead-meat even in the "easy" modes. Each of the Single missions can be edited with Gunships powerful and easy to use "Battle Builder" feature which lets you edit or build your own missions.
The Multiplayer is "slaved" to the single missions in the game, leaving you to fly without campaign options. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since you could make your own campaign by using custom single missions that are logged by one of the players. Any of you squads out there ... I hope your listening.
The Campaign mode lets you choose what side and units you want to play. The ability to monitor your crews progress and help them gain rank and skills makes Gunship all the more appealing to control freaks like me. One problem that may make you stick your nose up is the "fly-again" rule if you don't finish a mission. This is what gives away the fact there is no dynamic campaign modeled.
One of the few problems with Gunship is the lack of wingman commands, such as attack my target" or formation commands. Some of the commands that are available are hard to get to when youíre trying to run for cover and call in support, but if you spend enough time with any sim ... you get the hang of it.
Perhaps the best part of Gunship is it's astounding graphics. The detail of each object is not to the standards of Comanche vs. Hokum, but they are more than enough when coupled with the rich textures of the landscape around you. Though the trees themselves are nothing but a set of two sided polygons set up in an "X" fashion that's considered a dated technique by todayís standards, it's still nice to see the use of large areas of foliage to hide behind. And unless you bump right into the trees, you'll hardly even notice it.
Some of the newer sims available struggle to run on an older AMDII and PentiumII processor systems, but Gunship runs superbly even on some of the higher graphics settings. Micropose and Hasbro made no mistake with the system requirements that many sims post on their labels lately.
TO BUY or NOT TO BUY:
For the relatively low price of $20.00-U.S. you can really get one of the most pleasing to look at helo-sims of today. I would consider Gunship to be a beginners helicopter sim that might just be a good multiplayer, drinking a lot of beer, feeling lazy helicopter game for the veteran of the genre.
Patches and Utilities are in the works for changes ranging from flight-model edits to campaign mission editors. Keep an eye on our news section for the latest information on any helicopter simulator news.
HeloSim's Rating - 7 out of 10