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Review: Ka-52 Team Alligator Part I

Page 1

Ka-52 Team Alligator surprised a lot of folks, including us, when it beat Gunship and Comanche Hokum to the shelves. We've been flying the Alligator over the weekend, and as a result we've got some initial first impressions.

We chose the full install option for Team Alligator (TA), and it weighs in at 466 megs. We've been testing TA on a couple of different systems, ranging from 500-800 MHz, 128-384 megs ram, and from the V3 3000 to the GeForce DDR video cards. Although our first boot up of TA scared us a little, since it was running at about 5 frames per second, a quick reboot solved this and every system/video card combination we have tried has been very playable. We'll have more specific performance data in Part II of our review.

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Zoomed target view using the Shkval

TA comes with an 80 page manual, and it pretty much covers all the bases. It should be noted that only about half of the manual deals with system and weapons use; the rest is background on the campaigns as well as the recognition manual. TA is fairly unique in that it contains little or no Western/NATO equipment, since the campaigns are based on conflicts between countries supplied with East Bloc weapons. The one thing that really torqued (get it?) us is the fact that Team Alligator didn't include a keyboard supplement. Instead, the last two pages in the manual contain the keyboard layout. We never find this amusing, since after four or five people have used the manual and folded it every which way in order to get it to stay open, it invariably falls apart.

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All three cards we've tried support resolutions up to 1280 x 1024 x 32, and the sound options are the typical "louder, quieter, 3D sound on/off" we've all come to expect. One interesting option is that the player can set the speech to be entirely in Russian throughout the game. We're sure the Russian speaking simmers in our forum will definitely say a big "Spasiba" to Simis/GT. There are several flight model options, not that any of them do much if Zero G's beta flight model isn't installed (more on this later). Realistic ground effect, stability, blade stall, and vortex ring state can all be toggled on or off. An option to reverse the collective on your throttle is available in this screen.

TA has five different game options: Flight Training, Instant Action, Combat Missions, Campaign, and Multiplayer. Flight training is self-explanatory, and it includes six missions with an instructor pilot that covers skills including general flying, navigation, and weapons employment. Instant action allows you to jump into a Ka-52 for some solo shoot 'em up action in either Tajikistan or Belarus. The multiplayer features include both co-operative and head to head play for up to six and eight players respectively. We'll get into the multiplayer aspects of TA in part II of our review.

The campaign in TA, like that of most simulations, is one of the most notable features, and it includes two semi-dynamic campaigns set in Tajikistan and Belarus. The player is given control of six Ka-52's as well as sixteen crewmembers, and management of these assets as well as stores and ammunition is designed to be critical in order to complete the campaigns successfully. The aircrew are part of your "team", as well are the crew chiefs that take care of your helicopters. Managing the maintenance of your helicopters is a fresh and interesting option in TA, and multiple crew chiefs can be ordered to work on single systems in order to speed their repair. The aircrews are given ratings based on their flying skill, reactions, accuracy, morale, and fatigue. These ratings are in a constant state of flux during the campaign, and they change greatly depending on your performance.

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