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by NovaLogic

screen14-01.jpg (5078 bytes)I’ve been to one World’s Fair, a picnic and a rodeo, and I’ve never seen a chopper sim this easy to fly. Let’s not kid ourselves, NovaLogic wasn’t really making a sim here; they’re more interested in making something with some entertainment value. I don’t agree that necessarily sims are boring, though they might not sell to the adrenaline addled public like shootin’, killin’ and explosions. You like explosions? NovaLogic got you hooked up. This game has more explosions than Action Channel B-movies-- you know, the ones where they economically wreck the same Jeep four times, once from each side.

C4_web5-01.jpg (5888 bytes)Comanche 4 is about as accessible as it gets. By default, traditional first-person shooter controls are mapped out on the keyboard. First-person shooter mouse and keyboard controls aren’t quite as nice as a joystick, but are more than adequate for this game. In fact, I found it quite a hoot without the stick, especially when using first-person view. This view turns out to be the best option, as the cockpit view is cluttered and the third-person view is set at an unchangeable side-view angle that impedes accurate carnage. I don’t think that they could make flying any more straightforward than this, almost everything, including avionics, is taken care of for you. All you need to do is pick a weapon, and get it pointed in the general vicinity, as the game does the target acquisition for you. Altitude can be set to specified terrain-hugging heights with one keystroke, and "nap of the earth" flying is a breeze as long as you’re wary of your speed. The result is a flight model that is very simple; the Comanche is exceedingly easy to pilot.

screen18-01.jpg (4379 bytes)There are six campaigns consisting of roughly five missions apiece. These range from search and destroy to ground-support roles. Missions are kept to a minimum of complexity. Most of it can be described as "go over there and shoot some stuff, then head on over here to blow up some other stuff." That said, the missions are, however, not particularly easy. In fact, some of them are consternation-inducing. Your enemies are numerous and particularly good (sometimes god-like) at their job. There will be some replay here, be warned. I don’t particularly enjoy having to replay the same mission several times to finally scrape through by the skin of my gritted teeth. This kind of difficulty is typically a pitfall of console games, one employed to simply extend play-time, and one I’d rather not face on the PC. I’d rather vote for consistency any day.

screen22-01.jpg (6357 bytes)Comanche 4 features some great graphics. And, like I intimated before, the explosions are a highlight, as well as the water effects caused by your rotor’s wash. The terrain is great looking but rather generic. Habitats included here are a desert, a forest, some snow-covered place, some islands, and a city. Each well stocked with your prey consisting of air and ground-based combustible units. On top of the great graphics is some excellent sound design. Brief quiet is punctuated by storms of gunfire and explosions, each identifiable through the war-composed cacophony. Above it all is the steady whir of your chopper’s rotor.

snap457-01.jpg (4455 bytes)Multiplayer is included as well, with all of the typical offerings for the five or six people who are actually interested. I wouldn’t be opposed to giving this game a try at deathmatch, as it’s obviously well suited for that style of play.

screen23-01.jpg (4639 bytes)Overall, Comanche 4 is a high-quality game for the audience that like military flying games without the learning curve. There’s enough action here, however to make the cross-over to the first-person action crowd. Simple control coupled with nonstop shootin’ make this game a worthy offering for anyone interested in explosions. Wait . . . isn’t that most everyone?

Thomas Hoff   (03/25/2002)


Ups: Great graphics; easy controls; tons of explosions.

Downs: Difficulty set to teeth-grindingly tough; a little simple for the sim crowd.

Platform: PC