Game Review - by StormDaemon
Enemy Engaged: Apache Havoc is one of the newest helicopter simulators out on the et that tries to take the claim of being the greatest by offering simulated flight of either the US Apache, or the Russian Havoc. Both are high-powered attack helicopters that are somewhat evenly matched and can take on many different types of enemies. While the physics engine and the level of detail in the gameplay really make this game good, the graphics and the sounds bring it all down to an average old helicopter game.
The features of Apache Havoc were certainly there and in large number as evidenced by the numerous ways to control the helicopter and how the game goes. All of the expected controls are there, plus all of those little annoying ones that would be there if you were actually flying a helicopter, especially the true physics, which is very nice to see. The designers took into account almost all of the things that would be required to fly a helicopter, and also the things that would happen if one were flown. The slight rotation of the chopper due to the torque of the rotor and the spin of the blades is there, plus how the chopper reacts to everything also seems realistic. Both types of helicopters were also faithfully recreated, down to the camouflage paint. The graphics and the sounds, on the other hand, were not so well created, and they will written about later on.
Rating the gameplay of a simulation is different from other games because the fun factor plays an important role, but not as important as an arcade game for instance. For a simulation to be good, it needs to recreate the reality of what is being simulated to the best ability its game engine allows it to. For Apache Havoc, the game engine is great in the area of physics, complexity, and simulation, but lacking in the visual and audio simulation aspects. Playing the game feels like only halfway experiencing what it is like to fly a helicopter. Granted it will rarely ever come close to full reality without the use of a direct I/O to the brain, but with the hardware and the programming knowledge of today, designers can come fairly close. The helicopters in this game do react realistically, at least as far as I know, but the rest of the game lacks a lot. If you are just into the detail and physics of the chopper, then the game is a lot of fun to play, but if you are into the full experience, as I am, its a let down in certain areas.
The graphics, while designed for 3D accelerators, tend to rely heavily upon the CPU, which means that if you have less than a good Pentium III, don't count on much in the area of graphics, even if you have a voodoo2. A high end Pentium II will do the trick, but for the rather blocky graphics provided, that is way too much of a requirement. I do have to give praise for the in-cockpit graphics, though, the instrument panel looks really nice, and all the little effects look pretty good, even though the actual instrument screens don't look too realistic. The drawback to the instrument panel is that if you up the resolution, the panel does not go up as well, resulting in a cockpit that is too small for the screen. As for the rest of the graphics, they were pretty good, but a little too blocky at times. All of the landscapes and cities were all just groupings of blocks, and while they looked good, all of it seemed a bit bland, as if all of it was missing enough detail to make it feel realistic. After seeing all of that, I hoped for a little bit better quality in the graphical special effects, but I unfortunately did not find any because most of the effects were rather bland as well, with very few of them being even remotely memorable.
During the game you can expect to hear a variety effects, from cause and effect sounds to random chatter from either other pilots or your base. While none of them are extraordinary, hearing other pilots or your copilot respond to something you do is kind of cool and does help the whole simulation part of the game. On the other hand, the sounds sometimes are not that random and repeat for the same type of thing over and over again. With regular sounds, that really isn't much different from other games or even that much out of the ordinary, but when your copilot or whomever keeps on saying the same stupid phrase over and over again, it gets considerably annoying.
The sounds that are not as annoying are generally the weapon effects, which sound good and somewhat realistic, but lack an overpowering effect. For a real helicopter equipped with huge rockets and big chain gun, you'd expect to hear a really really loud thundering sounds for things, but all you hear in this game is a soft sound, which kind of lets you down a little.
Apache Havoc promises a number of things that would get any gamer excited, however, they are a let down once they are experienced. The features and the simulation were certainly good, but the graphics and the sounds needed a lot of work to bring them up to par with the rest of the game. The high requirements at least for the present day and time are not a major factor, but they still must considered in the overall opinion of the game. The high requirements prevent an average gamer from enjoying the game, and that is a design flaw. As for the rest of the game, it was all rather decent, with nothing too memorable.