DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Every time I open the box containing a new sim there are several things I'm
looking (and hoping) to find. Realistic vehicle and physics modeling. An
imaginative campaign, preferably dynamic and expansive. Good graphics and
audio so the world in which the sim takes place resembles reality, not an old
Atari game. Intelligent computer controlled entities that go a step further
than simply reacting to my moves--AI that battles with agility and verve. Added
together, these qualities should provide a great simulation experience. I now
have a new term for the sum of all these criteria: Enemy Engaged: Comanche
versus Hokum. This helosim gets all the good stuff right and puts a serious hurt on my comparative
standard. If only all helo, tank, plane, and sub sims were this good.
Engaged features two playable combat helos, the US Comanche RAH-66 and the
Russian Hokum KA-52. These two are the next generation of rotary wing
aircraft. They have capabilities that advance reconnaissance, ground support,
and stealth attack potential like nothing before them. The game comes
with one of the best manuals I've seen. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 180
pages, good paper, tons of details about the sim, interface, options,
vehicles, flight basics, and campaign structure. What's missing are the
tutorials that newbies need to get up to speed. Instead, fresh meat players
will need to use the combat and flight options to dumb down the sim so they
can master the techniques needed to fly, attack, and evade.
word from experienced helosim players is the avionics are good but could be
improved. For my money, the Comanche and Hokum handled pretty realistically.
The translational lift and ground effects seem to be somewhat muted, and perhaps
the Comanche was a tad overpowered--lift is pretty vigorous--but for everyone
other than Army pilots the flight model in EECH is great, equal to Longbow.
Casual helosim player that I am, I was very happy with the representation
The game has a great
autopilot setting that gets you from waypoint to waypoint flawlessly. I used
it occasionally but EECH is so darned much fun to fly that I spent the
majority of my time piloting my chopper. The only drawback worth noting is
when the engines get knocked out, you are going to crash no matter how much
finesse you employ to flare and crash land. No autorotation, no walk-away
crash landings. It's also pretty tough to land a damaged chopper successfully.
So if you take a lot of damage and are having trouble handling the bird, you
can count on going up in smoke. This dampens the enthusiasm for trying to make
it back to base with a crippled helo.
of the Comanche and Hokum cockpits are very sharp and detailed. You can pivot
your view down to the pilot's lap and watch his hands on the collective and cyclic
mirror your joystick inputs! In the side-by-side cockpit of the Hokum you can
turn and see the other pilot. There's even a fire extinguisher system. All missions in EECH start with you idling on the
ground. You all but climb in the cockpit. Hit the "R" key to get the
rotor turning and after the RPMs hit you're going verticle. That's a big edge
over Gunship!, where, for some unknown reason, all missions start with you in
the air. Really now, one of the reasons to buy a helosim is to experience the
fun of flying and that includes takeoffs.
outstanding feature is, if you own the earlier helosim Apache Vs Havoc,
also by Razorworks, EECH will incorporate import the Apache and Havoc
helicopters and their three campaigns if you install EECH in the same
directory. Thanks, Razorworks!
no training missions, I suggest casual helosim players start off with the
easy flight and combat options. Give yourself a chance to get a feel for
flying without getting toasted right away. Once you have corralled some
skill, opt for more realistic modes and get ready to taste war in the best
dynamic and expansive campaign any sim ever delivered.
campaigns and "skirmish" missions take place in three arenas:
Taiwan, Yemen, and Lebanon. And the battles are huge, much bigger than
anything I've experienced before. There can be 250 different entities slugging
it out in an area several hundred miles square. Combatants run the full gamut,
from infantry, tanks, helos, ships, SAM trucks, bombers, ground support
aircraft, paratroopers--just to name a few. And the cool part is the action
takes place around you without being primarily centered on you. You are truly
just another unit in this war, soldier. The radio pours a stream of messages,
warnings, urgent cries for support, and other chatter, often layered with a
touch of confusion.
The action ranges from
navigating sparsely populated areas to hellacious firefights with stuff flying
everywhere. The Nav Map has mostly real time data, even artillery impacts
are displayed which, while being a little on the unrealistic side, is a
great help in finding the action. And some units are hidden from the player,
meaning as you merrily traverse a seemingly bare grid you might zoon over a
rise and find a battalion of enemy armor waiting to greet you. How rude! The
tracers will fly and you better be quick on the stick or your prize helo will
be blasted into a charred husk. The computer will assist you in firing flares
and picking out targets much as a flesh and blood copilot would. If you are
really hardcore you can switch the assist option off and then you must rely on
your own eyes and nerve to get in close enough to ID vehicles. That's one hell
of a challenge! I tried it several times and either a.) shot a NATO jeep full
of holes or b.) got too close and a Russian Grison put four 30mm cannons
up my... well, you know. Either way, you'll have you hands full.
really found the gameplay compelling and addictive, well above average. Each
chance I got I fired EECH up for a quick skirmish. Playing the same missions
over is not a negative because the dynamic mission generator throws in a mess
of new surprises each time. I found the Yemen and other mountain terrain
missions the best--zooming through the canyons and around the extraordinary
mountains was a game in itself. The terrain in EECH can be--and should
be--used for tactical effect. In one mission I scoped out an enemy encampment
from afar. I made my attack run and ducked into a sharp box canyon two klicks
on the other side. The enemy SAMs streamed overhead in futility. Flare, spin
around, creep up over the ridge with Hellfires in LAOL launch mode and let 'em
have some more.
enemy AI often surprised me. Once I flew over a recessed road and heard faint
clanking and diesel noises. I stormed around
expecting to ambush a tank convoy but found nothing. I hovered for a few
seconds and then shifted laterally to uncover a fork in the road. A T-80 was
backed up against the embankment waiting for me and fired several anti-tank
missiles at point-blank range. Shocked me so much I jumped in my seat.
Matt "Lionpride" Starace was one of the beta testers for
EECH. He reminded me that the Beta team contained several experienced helo
operators. "I love the challenge of the ground AI in EECH. It's just
challenging enough to make you never shelf this sim in aggravation if the AI
knocks you out of the sky." Tell it, brother!
GRAPHICS & AUDIO
EECH puts the power of DirectX to great use. The vehicle renderings are crisp
and detailed. You can actually tell a US tank from a Russian tank at a
distance. Nothing to complain about here. The planes and SAMs streaked with
fluid movement. The terrain looked good but a trifle bare. Trees are badly
missing from the equation. They are either represented as dense blocks or
little strands of three or four. The result is terrain that resembles big
rice fields. I can live with it but Gunship! advanced the concern farther
with its x-trees. As stated above, though, the mountainous terrain is rich
with changes in elevation and crevasses.
are a number of villages, towns, and other facilities to explore. Power
plants, oil refineries, and merchant docks make up for the bland green
spaces. I transited a petro-chem dock with a couple tankers tied at the dock.
Being the destructive type, I engaged the helpless tanker with a Hellfire.
Broke its back and it commenced leaking black crude (or Algerian condensate,
heck, the surveyors didn't leave me a sample) down the side and into the
water. How's that for realistic detail! Not to mention very environmental
unfriendly. Will a Hellfire break a tanker's keel? I don't know but it won't
make Loyd's of London very happy.
presents the most un-sim like New Age soundtrack I've encountered. The music
would be better suited for a yoga game than a war game. You get used to it,
sort of. Audio is good but the whine of the engines and whir of the
rotors could have been a little more noticeable. Explosions and weapons
impacts are sufficient. I will say that the cockpit alarms and radio chatter
strike the right tone. Take a few hits and you'll have more buzzers and
whistles than you know what to do with. Battles take place in rain or
sunshine, day or night. Yep, war is an all-weather activity.
FREE: FIRE AT WILL
Enemy Engaged: Comanche vs. Hokum is a complex helosim that puts a
lot of fine detail and a bevy of gameplay options in the player's hands. This
helosim boasts the mother of all dynamic campaigns and the best military
vehicle graphics, period. Enemy Engaged hovers far above the pack. If
you haven't tried a helosim before, this baby is your ticket. Don't be daunted
by the thick manual, just dumb it down and git in there and fly! Once the fun
gets its hooks in you, you won't need prodding to pour over the manual and
move to higher levels of realism. It will become a craving!
Specs: Win 95/98, Pentium 266 Mhz CPU or faster,
3D video card with 4MB RAM, 6X or faster CD-ROM drive, 64 MB
RAM, 300 MB Hard Drive space, supports joystick
HeloSim's Rating - 9 out of 10
Hover Above Award Winner!