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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004


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Ups:Great graphics, great sims, great missions and campaigns.
Downs: You need a super-computer to run it well.
System Reqs:
Pentium 166, 32Mb Ram, DirectX supported D3D graphics
card w/ 4Mb Ram, 500Mb free hard drive space, 4x CD-RO

I got the hook-up on Razorworks’ long-awaited attack helicopter simulation Apache Havoc: a world class tag-team effort that is going to knock the wind out of all you chopper-sim fans as well as your computers, literally. The AH-64D Apache Longbow and Mi-28N Havoc-B are the front line of US’s and CIS’s attack helicopter fleets, two machines that well embody the strategies that they were intended to carry out, bristling with weaponry, and designed with havoc in mind . . . no pun intended. So when Razorworks decided to team up these two awesome machines in the same game, they produced one of the most thoroughly playable sims I’ve seen in a while.

Having both the Apache and Havoc at your control is only where the fun starts, the mission design is the highlight for me. You, as the pilot, are not the center of the action, but an integral part of a greater whole--action happens all around you, whether or not you're looking. Though Apache Havoc is also a fairly hardcore combat sim in its own right, its got a serious set of problems for some less well-endowed gamers. Apache Havoc is a system hog; the minimum requirements of a Pentium 166 and 32 Mb RAM are completely insufficient if you want to have any fun with the game, I’d only recommend this for higher end systems with lots of memory, speedy processors, and big wallets to back ‘em up.

Part of the problem is caused by the phenomenal exteriors that the game features: there seems to be a win/lose situation here--you either get the killer graphics or the ability to fly your chopper--it's up to you, but I’d really prefer both. Even at 640x480 (the cockpit is always this resolution, by the way), once you get into the city and the action gets good, the game becomes unplayable, and before you know it you’ve piled into some office complex. As I hinted, the terrain graphics are absolutely beautiful, catering to low altitude flying: canyons and river-beds, trees and buildings are provided for shelter and, most importantly, ambushes. I love just holding a hover in a nicely concealed spot and waiting for the enemy to unknowingly cruise by the action end of my 30mm meatgrinder. After all, that’s what it's all about. And the weather effects are varied along with the time of day--each time you play you get some different combination. Its really nice when rain beads up on the canopy and wipers helpfully remove the effect. I found myself looking forward to flying in stormy weather with low ceilings-all this adds an essential realism missing in many other games.

The flight dynamics of both machines are great; there’s enough variation between Apache and Havoc, performance and control-wise, to make it interesting. Anyone not familiar with juggling the cyclic and collective, essentially your pitch and throttle controls, respectively, won’t find it too hard to handle with a little practice. Before long you can coordinate well enough to stop on a dime, hold position, and use your rudder to quickly turn and deliver a few Hellfires and neatly trounce a lowly tank. Where the Havoc carries a slight advantage in performance, the Apache takes the lead in technology. The Havoc’s mostly analog instruments aren’t as easily read as the Apache’s digital displays. But both feature some variation of helmet-instrument integration.

In the Apache the Integrated Helmet And Display Sighting System (IHADSS) follows your head movement, so you never have to worry about constantly checking your instruments, and the same feature is found in the Havoc’s Helmet-Mounted Sight (HMS). The Target Acquisition and Designation Sight (TADS) controls (fancy way of saying radar) take up the entire keyboard numberpad. But, I found that in this game, using the radar is a sure-fire way to get quickly blown out of the sky-its like hand-feeding raw steak to hungry bears-it hurts. Virtually every key of the keyboard is used, some keys carrying up to three functions. Messing with all the controls and cruising a few dozen feet off of rolling terrain can be overwhelming, so the co-pilot can be set to handle a couple of the more arcane--though essential--tasks such as counter measures and target identification.

The three campaigns are split into hypothetical melees in Cuba, Southern Asia’s Golden Triangle, and Soviet Georgia. Now, as I mentioned before, the whole deal here is the campaign setup. Once the campaign is started it develops in real time. Nothing’s scripted, and your contribution to the battle makes a difference; even when you're refueling or re-arming, the clock is ticking. And when you crash you can watch the rest of the mission fulfill itself without you. There is a super-wide variety of targets: over 50 helicopters, combat aircraft, armored vehicles, artillery, transports, and warships. Great fodder for hungry gunships. Also, Apache Havoc has plenty of options and Multiplayer is supported for virtually everything.

The only way that you’re going to get sick of this game is if you get tired of flying choppers.  There are so many different ways that you can enter combat, complete your mission, and mess around in the combat scene, that the game is for all intents and purposes infinitely playable. The only problem here is the steep performance requirements.

--Thomas Hoff