Title Coala (Third Review) Game Type Flight Sim Players 1 Company Empire Compatibility 020+ HD Installable Yes Submission Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer Review Coala describes itself as the ultimate helicopter gunship simulation, and certainly the speed and appearance of its 3D system are highly impressive. The game was developed after the Amiga's golden period, and the very last issue of The One magazine (July 1995) featured a Work in Progress report on the almost completed game with some very tasty screenshots. Unfortunately the article was actually not very informative as the writer involved seems to have seen it more as an opportunity to develop his comedy skills. Anyway, what is clear from the article, and indeed the game, is that the Dutch team involved (Bitfusion) were a talented and dedicated group of Amiga enthusiasts. The game includes AGA and ECS versions, but requires at least an 020 processor, as the team felt it was unrealistic to attempt a 3D Amiga game capable of holding its own against its PC rivals on a lower spec machine than this. On the subject of specific Amiga hardware, the horizon effect in the game uses "the famous Amiga copper chip" and I don't recall it being used as well as this in another 3D game. Initially I was a bit confused about what kind of game Coala actually is. It calls itself a simulation, and looks like one, but in my judgement its more of a 3D action game, with its straightforward gameplay, its high score table, and its lack of a save game option. Its rather like the game Guardian crossed with the Core classic, Thunderhawk. Nothing wrong with that, however. When starting the game you are not aligned with either the East or West forces, rather you are a free agent that can throw in with whoever you choose. You can even attack both sides and become a "Dog of War" if that is your preference. Civilians and United Nations Forces also present potential targets for budding psychopaths. The game gives you a number of scenario options to choose from - there's Peace, which is handy if you just want to fly around and take in the sights, there are a number of Battle options involving ongoing conflicts, then there's a set of Defensive and Offensive missions where you might have to protect a troop convoy that has come under attack, or even mercilessly pursue and kill fleeing enemy vehicles as they make off with stolen loot from the country your allies have just kicked them out of - Mutla Ridge, anybody? In addition there are Random scenarios, Custom scenarios where you the player decides which vehicles are involved and (in multiples of ten) how many there are of them. There is an option for Practicing against a single vehicle type, and finally there is Total War, where all vehicles from all sides are involved. You can choose from one of four aircraft: the AH-64 Apache, the MI-35 Hind, the MI-28 Havoc or, after scoring 100 points, the fictional A88 Coala. There are also four theatres (Western Europe, Antarctic, Mexico and the Middle East) and four mission times (Dawn, Noon, Sunset, and Night). One of the most impressive features of the game is the superb virtual cockpit. By holding down the right mouse button and moving the mouse you actually take control of the pilot's head. You can look smoothly from side to side without changing the course of the helicopter. The real advantage of this is that when using your chain gun or Hellfire missiles (or Eastern equivalents), the direction in which you are looking is slaved to the corresponding weapon. You can therefore fly parallel to a road, keeping pace with, for example, an enemy Lada truck, and at a time of your choosing blow the bejabers out of it, without having to so much as lower your craft's nose, let alone changing your heading. Another particuarly neat feature is the Target Acquisition and Designation System (TADS) and its zoom facility. By hitting the Tab key you enter the TADS view, which is essentially a zoomed in view for 'sniping'. The z key will however zoom you in a lot further, and when you have the Hellfire missiles selected, the targetting display, complete with target data displayed along side, does look very tasty indeed. To some extent you can make use of trees and buildings for hiding behind, but it has to said that the lack of hills (or valleys) in the landscape does exact a price on the game's tactical depth. Another niggle is that while you can fill the screen with your separate radar display, select a vehicle, read data on it, and even observe it with a tracking camera viewpoint, when you go back to the cockpit view the vehicle is no longer selected on your HUD, even if its directly in front of you. This lack of a proper interface between the two screens feels like an oversight to me. Included with the game are two bonus programs which are well worth a look. These are EFA and Navigator which enable you fly a variety of aircraft and view a range of objects respectively. They don't pretend to be games, but they are quite fun to explore. On the whole then, Coala is a very nice looking game with some impressive features. It lacks a certain depth, with its wrap-around landscape and point scoring system, but it certainly delivered unexpected bounty to the increasingly disconsolate Amiga fans of 1995, and it remains an enjoyable and stylish game that didn't quite realise its full potential.