Today I played a game that was one part flight sim, one part arcade shooter, and less than one part fun.
Apache Air Assault is one of those games that kind of falls between the gaps because it was mostly meant as a gap filler. It’s a niche game. The market for semi-flight attack helicopter sim arcade shooters isn’t massive. I might have even just created the name for that market for the first time. All fifteen of them just smiled at the news, but aren’t sure why as they (statistically speaking) probably haven’t even visited CBR before.
So as a result Apache Air Assault is that game that a lot of people have seen at a glance in Gamestop or on a page of games listed on Amazon or otherwise. The fact that it kind of falls in-between flight sim and arcade shooter also makes it not only hard to sell, but hard to really describe to those not familiar with it. Best I can do; it is an arcade shooter involving helicopters that is extremely hard to control at times.
For the most part Apache Air Assault actually isn’t that difficult though, but certain moments cause immense frustration that undo the good will it created previously. About mid way through the game’s series of terrorist ass-kicking missions I found myself really enjoying the sort of natural flow I had developed with the Apache I was flying. I was buzzing over the terrain, moving with haste, making impressive banks and when the time came raining down hell of some people I imagine were screaming “Derka derka, Muhammad Jihad!” back at me. Immediately after I had to gain some altitude and engage in some air-to-air combat with some helicopters.
Suddenly the controls felt incredibly sluggish as I struggled to gain altitude no matter what I did while the enemies took cheap shots at my almost completely stalled Apache. Finally reaching an altitude where I could actually shoot at the enemy I found my ability to do so very… lacking. The game often gives you so few anti-air missiles, most of which will be lost to enemy flairs, that they are mostly useless. This leaves you trying everything else you can to take the enemy down, eventually having to just overwhelm them with a barrage of missiles or switching to the gun mode and shooting them down slowly with your big guns. This of course is also problematic as you either enter auto-hover mode which leaves you vulnerable or you constantly switch back and forth between flying and gun mode to stay on the move but avoid flying directly into a mountain.
This was my experience with the last level of Apache Air Assault I actually played. Immediately after defeating the enemy helicopters in a painfully frustrating battle sequence I had to chase down and defeat an enemy helicopter, but nothing I seemed to do would allow me to get close enough to take it down with my horrible inaccurate weapons. Failing this final part of the mission meant repeating the entire mission from the start and after about eight or so attempts I simply gave up.
There is some fun to be had though with Apache Air Assault. Namely those moments when you are the whirly bird of terrorist ass kicking I mentioned before. For me, these moments came just a little too rarely to make the game a must buy or even a should buy; but for those more patient or a bit more into learning all the nuances of flying the helicopters this has far more staying potential. The game has become slightly rare and way overpriced at most retailers (see the Amazon link below), but it is worth checking out if you can find it for the right price like I did.
Tomorrow I take the fight “over there” in Captain America: Super Soldier for the NDS.
Final Rating: 6.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: Couldn’t complete but I would estimate it at around 7+ hours
Gamer Score Earned: 250/1000
Price Bought at: $9.99
Current Price: $69.99 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: $9.99 was fair, definitely not $69.99.
Why you should buy it: Has some fun moments of ass-kickery
Why you shouldn’t buy it: Exceedingly frustrating at times.