VIETNAM MED+EVAC       reviewed by Neal "Pappy" Stevens

Developer: InterActive Vision
Publisher (North America): Global Star Software; Publisher (elsewhere): TBA

Regular readers of know we are supportive of the Search and Rescue series. They have demonstrated steady improvements, solid support, and continual releases. In an era when simulations are few and more slanted towards action, the SAR series is a blessing. But  just because they are the only game in town does not mean we give them a free pass. Each review measures the pros and cons of the sim appropriately. I'm pleased to report that they stand up to scrutiny and that our support is justified. InterActive Vision obviously has a thing for rotary wing sims and in Vietnam Med+Evac, and it shows.

Med+Evac takes places as advertised off the coast of Vietnam during the late sixties. You are the pilot of the UH1 Huey helicopter and your primary mission is one of search and rescue, allowing this sim to fit in nicely with the series while adding a different perspective and environment. There are over 100 missions in this game, which is a clear signal that the developers sincerely intend for the players to enjoy and get a lot out of Med+Evac. These days too many games ship with a handful of scenarios that a player can complete in a week. Med+Evac will keep you entertained for months.

Novice pilots can choose an easy flight model and benefit from several quick training missions. A slim manual and keyboard chart provides the basics, although we found some mistakes in the key assignments--F6 implements the sling and F7 the litter--and the manual refers to Costal Heroes, a similar product in the lineup. The start-up sequence is similar to previous versions of SAR but a first-time player may find it confusing. It is outlined in the manual but we suggest a tutorial where the player is prompted by textual cues--face it, a lot of people try to play a game right out of the box without reading the manual. This could make the game more approachable.

Serious sim jockeys will devour the manual and choose the Realistic flight model. And boy, will they be pleasantly surprised! Med+Evac has one of the best and most authentic flight models we've ever played. I've heard from a number of real pilots who have played Med+Evac and they are impressed. If I were the lazy type, I could easily let them write the review for me:


I love this game. I've flown Hueys and the flight model is spot on. Landing is actually harder than in real life but otherwise it's so bloody realistic it's beautiful. Come in slow and low and watch the torque effect once you get IGE - it's lovely to see. This is the only sim I've considered enjoyable enough to warrant my attention since LB2 (which I still play!).
                                                              -- ruprecht, Kingston, UK


For Valentines day my wife (being that I fly flights sims daily) bought me "Vietnam Med Evac" the only words that I can think of to describe it is wow! Usually on sims I have to put the setting all the way up and then tie one hand behind my back to play with any enjoyment, so what did I do when I finally installed this game? Jacked the realism to 100% grabbed my pop and started flying (right into the water as I wasn't expecting the realism to be... well real!) Physics are awesome in this game, you actually have to do the minor corrections while hovering that most sims do for you automatically! Big bonus to me! although landing is harder in the game then in real life, (that just makes it more interesting if you ask me) I suggest you find this title as it is really worth the money you spend on it!                                                                    -- Idle Hands


Well, enough of that, it's plain to see these guys want my job. Seriously, I have seen more praise from pilots for this sim than any other in recent memory. Flying the Med+Evac Huey in Realistic mode is challenging but fun. Med+Evac is an honest-to gosh simulation. Ground effects and autorotation are present and the system includes AFCS (Automatic Flight Control System) which is what real pilots rely on to manage flying in demanding situations.


The first missions are simple pick-up and drop-off passengers and cargoes. You get to drop swimmers, use the litter for injured grunts, and discourage enemy troops with a machine gun mounted in the door. The missions are all pretty similar but there was a lot of variety in the layout, locations, and degrees of difficulty of the missions. Some were very difficult while others were a cinch.

Allow me to illustrate a sample mission: You start your Huey, take off from a ship at anchor, establish your bearings and and align your course with your compass. After several minutes, you approach a column of smoke from a distant hill. As you get closer you see a downed helo, injured crewmen, and hostiles approaching. You open the side door and man the machine gun. Lay down some suppressive fire and lower your medic. He gets the injured on the litter and you reel them in and hightail it back to base.

The campaign is scripted and linear--you must complete each mission to move on to the next. Sometimes the objective was not as clear as I would have liked. There were missions where I went where I was told and waited for guys to load up. They ran back and forth but couldn't be bothered to get in. Other times I would come in hot and set the whole platoon to screaming like maniacs. Too much battle fatigue, I figured.

It is highly recommended that you use a joystick with this sim to get the full effect. The interface is adequate and I quickly learned to use the console command for drop down menus--they will let you know what functions are available and the status of your passengers and cargo. A time jump feature allows you to speed things up between landmarks.

One of the joys of the SAR series is the insistence on using proper rescue and flying procedures. You don't just get in and fly, you have to operate the machine. Opening doors, deploying the rescue gear, doing victim checks--these are little touches but they add up to a gratifying experience.

Gameplay in Med+Evac suffered from tightly defined trigger points--you would need to get right in the proper place and position to cause the rescue crewmember or medic to perform his duties properly. I don't remember it being that tricky with SAR 3. Also, I did wish for an AI pilot so I could handle the machine gun when hostilities broke out, perhaps some kind of "attack" mode where the AI pilot keeps me and the machine facing the threat. The enemy AI will throw rifle fire and SAMs at you so there is an element of survival mixed in with the rescue business this time around. Great stuff.

Med+Evac looks about the same as the last couple of SAR sims. Not bad but a notch below other recent sims like Comanche 4. They get the job done but the next SAR title could benefit from an upgrade. The terrain is satisfactory. Jungles are simplified into green canopies and close-up, jungles amount to well-spaced palms. Not gripping but the effect is acceptable. The Huey and other vehicles are rendered well. The people are like little Lego men and they pantomime various routines and activities. Weather effect such as fog and rain add to the appearance. Sound effects really bring you into the game. Radio messages and voiceovers are first-rate. Other details increase the depth of the gameplay--open the side door and the rotor sounds get louder.



InterActive Vision and Global Star prove once again that they know how to craft a good helosim. Vietnam Med+Evac has one of the best flight models ever and all the functionality, features, and procedure-based gameplay you've come to expect from the Search and Rescue series.

Specs: Win 98/ME/XP Pentium 800  Mhz CPU or faster, 32MB 3D video card, CD-ROM drive, 64 MB RAM (128 for XP),  1 GB Hard Drive space
Recommended: Win 98/ME/XP Pentium 1000 Mhz CPU, 64 MB GeoForce  video card, CD-ROM drive, 256 MB RAM,  1 GB Hard Drive space supports joystick, pedals, throttle stick.

HeloSim's Rating - 8 out of 10

reviewed by Neal "Pappy" Stevens Review Index

Copyright 2003