Time to put those oversized Ray Ban sunglasses on and take to the skies. Take on Helicopters is a game developed and published by Bohemia Interactive; the same people that have bought us the ultra-realistic ARMA series. This time they have delved into the flight simulator market and have bought us an extremely realistic helicopter game.
I always thought that Microsoft’s Flight Simulator series was pretty good; they too have helicopters available. However, this being solely a helicopter game really shows. The whole experience is really good and extremely fun after you have spent an hour or so mastering the controls. Helicopters look so easy to fly when you see other people doing it. I mean, in Airwolf the TV show they have an old guy flying loop the loops, how hard can it all be. Well, unfortunately, I have to say it’s not that easy, but you will have fun learning.
Every time I see a new flight-simulator game released I always think, “How can the graphics be any better ?” Well, Bohemia Interactive have really pushed the boat out here and must have hired some extremely talented artists to join their team, because here we have what must be the most impressive graphics I have ever seem. I mean, if you do a quick search on the internet, have a look at the trailer, you’ll think it’s real footage. It is mind boggling how they manage this stuff. The detail inside the different helicopters is amazing, every dial and flashing light is so real looking, however, I must point out that this game requires a fantastically fast PC.
I have just purchased a really high-end piece of kit, my graphics card cost me around the £300 mark, and, up to now, I’ve had the settings on ‘Ultra’ in every other game I have tried. Here, however, I had to lower them to high to stop they being jerky. I reckon you need at least a SLI or Crossfire configuration to have this game on Ultra settings, but I have rambled on about the graphics so much, what about the actual gameplay I hear you screaming.
Well, the gameplay is pretty good and very enjoyable. The first thing you need to do is the Training, and when I say do I mean DO. If you skip the training you will crash as soon as you get off the ground, and that’s if you can get off the ground. You are first shown the 7 point check that every real life pilot does. This involves walking around in a first-person point of view and checking various parts of the helicopter inside and out. As you do this you are told what each part does. My friend who can fly helicopters saw this and could not believe how realistic it was, as he is a pilot and can remember a few years ago that this was like his first time. Then you need to actually take off, here you need to turn the batteries on, hold the starter down, set the throttle to idle, raise the engine to 65%, I won’t go on, don’t worry.
After the training and a few test flights, you are faced with the storyline. The involves your main character going to help a business get going again in the tough economic climate we are all in. You start on day one doing a simple VIP drop of, and gradually progress up to doing things like saving someone’s life or picking up some cargo that has fallen off a tanker. Its gets very, very hard indeed and you need a lot of patience as every slight move you make can cause the helicopter to go mad and crash if you don’t keep an eye on everything.
The gameplay is highly rewarding, as not only does this game have a pretty decent storyline it feels good if you manage to survive a task in high winds. You actually feel happier when your virtual helicopter is back on the tarmac. The controls I used were mouse and keyboard, but I noticed you can use a joystick, which may make it a bit easier. You also have the options to create your own missions and there is an online area to share your homemade missions with the world. This will certainly expand the game and may be a lot of fun as people start testing others abilities to the maximum. As the game has just come out there is not much available just now, but I am sure that will change.
The game is not perfect and there are a few bad points. Sometimes the characters are talking and they don’t do what they are talking about. One example is the first real mission where the VIP you are transporting says he is checking his email, but if you look at him he is doing nothing. Maybe he is a robot. I don’t know, but it felt odd. This is a simulator though so I can’t fault it too much for that. One pretty big annoyance was the way the game creates auto saves at certain points during a mission, sometimes it saves just as you go wildly out of control and you crash. Then, once you reload, you crash again and again, and your only option is to start the whole mission again. This can be really annoying if you have spent ages getting to where you were and it would have been much better to have a few different auto saves to chose from like in most games.
All this aside, Take On Helicopters is really enjoyable game and I recommend it to anyone who wants a real hardcore helicopter simulator as there are not many around and this one certainly comes out tops. It’s not a quick game to master though, I have had it for a week now and I am still pretty rubbish at it. At least I know that helicopter pilot is not a career changing choice I should make. I would be utterly useless, and probably do more damage than good. I think I’ll just stick with this awesome simulator.
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