Title Gunship (Second Review) Game Type Flight Sim Players 1 Compatibility Any Amiga HD installable Yes Company MicroProse Submission Steve Turner (Celebrity Reviewer) Review I chose Gunship to review as a tribute to the successful Microprose design team, including the legendary Sid Meier,that managed to combine the accuracy of a simulation with the fun of a game. This is a fine example of this balance from the stable that also developed F15 and F19 in the days when getting 3D to run fast enough to be playable needed every trick that the programmer could think of. Gunship follows the pattern of several Microprose simulations. The game consists of a series of missions which range from training exercises to deadly combat. To survive, the player must learn not only the fundamentals of helicopter flight, but the tactics of helicopter combat. The Apache Gunship is indeed a formidable weapon and the power of this comes across in the game. However the vunerability from ground fire and missiles is also accurately simulated. Hugging the terrain to avoid enemy radar and line of sight is absolutely necessary to stand a chance of survival. The player soon learns the tactic of popping up from cover, firing at the target, then sinking out of sight. Being a simulation, control is not instantly mastered. My favourite way to play the game was like the real thing, with a pilot and a weapons officer. Then the pilot can concentrate on flying which involves more than a joystick can cope with. I used to take turns with my son Mark, swapping roles with every mission. That way we stood a chance of survival. When the Infra red or radar warning alert flashed, things certainly got hectic even with two players. Saving the sparse chaff or flares for when they were absolutely necessary and learning how to jink at the correct moment to dodge a missile took cool judgment and quick reactions. Its amazing watching someone fly a simulation, they bank around the turns as if body movement and sheer will power will add to the turn. My son Mark was the one who got me playing the game. Writing software is a lot of hard work and funnily enough I did not have a lot of time to play games. One night when I constantly had to work nights to meet a deadline Mark barricaded the door assisted by his sisters to stop me going back to work. Often I took him with me for inspiration and to test the games. I used to let him borrow all the companies computers and games consoles so he was always the first kid around to play the new machines. The helicopter has full cyclic as well as collective controls allowing full 3 Dimensional flight. Either the keyboard keypad or joystick can be used to control the basic movement. The keyboard has to be used to turn on the spot using the tail rotor or to gain or lose height. Thus its a challenge for one person to master this and select the weapon keys as desired, but it can be done with a bit of practice. The player can select easy or realistic flight modes. Its worth getting the feel of the easy mode then persevering until the realistic mode is mastered. You can also choose between easy or hard missions and the grade of enemy. There is something about me though that does not like an easy setting. I like to beat a game at its worst and although Gunship got the better of me at the hardest settings I was always ready to let it give me another thrashing. The player is helped by a realistic cockpit display simulating the awesome array of technology that makes the Apache such a fearful tank buster. An easy to use target and display system allows the player to select an enemy target and deliver its deadly payload in an instant. This gives a real speed of play that has to be coordinated with the helicopters flight control. This skill gets better the more the game is played, giving longevity to the game and addictiveness. When you fail you always know you could have done better and want to try again. (or if you are playing with a co-pilot HE could have done better so you will show him how to do it next time!) For more realism wait till everyone is out plug the Amiga into the stereo turn up the sound as much as you dare. You certainly know when you are hit but the rotor sound gets a bit monotonous after a while. Every now and then HQ radios you when you do something good. Encouraging you with phrases likeď"Nice shot" in a USA drawl. The player can choose between an array of weaponry including cannon, Hellfire anti tank missiles, Sidewinder anti aircraft missiles. The player chooses their payload to suit their style and mission or can accept a default payload. In the hardest missions the player is hunted by killer gunships so a couple of Sidewinder missiles are handy. My favorite weapon is the fire and forget Hellfire missile as it seldom fails to destroy even the heaviest armour the player encounters. My only criticism to the game design is the way you can sometimes be crippled and have to crawl home at a snail's pace with little chance of survival if an enemy is encountered. While it can be exciting for a time it soon drags, especially if you are being nagged for not dodging that last missile, or for having been too generous using the chaff. Each hit on the helicopter damages some aspect. Beyond a certain point its a bit too gradual a death, you know you won't get back to base but you have to try. That's a minor point though, all round its a well designed game and in many ways some of today's 3D game simulators could benefit from emulating its gameplay. Graftgold Trivia Graftgold almost developed a game for Microprose, in some ways inspired by Gunship. It was called Battle of Britain and contained strategic and shoot em up elements. It got as far as the design and mock up stages but the contract was never finalised so the game was shelved. It was going to be our first big 16 bit game across Amiga ST and PC. Some of the ideas, especially the maps and display engine, ended up in the game Realms.