I'm partial to military technology, and the AH-64 Apache/Mi-28 Havoc combination represents the best of the operational helicopter technologies that the American and former Soviet-bloc countries have to offer. In this single package Empire and Razorworks have fielded a simulation that offers action in both the Apache and the Havoc. Let's take a look at their US release (1.1c) of Apache Havoc.
The Product and the Rating
It's in my nature to take note of the way a company "presents" its products. The product, press release and the product package are in my view a good way of setting the expectations of the buyer. I'd prefer to not go off half-cocked and assume that a product was meant for me and my particular playing style, so I expect the information presented to help me make a reasonable decision.
It would be unfair to rate a product in certain categories if the designers never intended for their product to compete in that area. Comparing Novalogic's F16 and Microprose' Falcon 4, for example, really is comparing apples and oranges. To be fair to the developer and publisher, we have to better understand the "target audience" of the simulation.
So who is the target audience for Apache Havoc? Well, I've attached the press release for the product HERE. Additionally, the box contains a fair amount of information about the sim.
Interpreting this information, I would offer that the designers of Apache Havoc were going after the middle ground between a study sim such as Jane's Longbow 2 and a less studied sim such as Mindscape's Team Apache. It is this light that I will review Apache Havoc.
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The Manual and Training
Apache Havoc includes a single glue-bound manual as its key information and training device. The manual is approximately 140 pages and includes sections on game introduction, ground school, a discussion of the Apache vs. Havoc, a campaign overview, cockpit overviews, and a recognition guide. The manual was well written generally, but lacked an index, making it difficult to locate particular information. Furthermore, the manual screams for a Tips and Tactics guide.
Unfortunately Apache-Havoc contains no training missions to hone your abilities. I was a bit disappointed in not being able to learn about the different aircraft, particularly the Havoc. Hundreds of hours of flight time in the Jane's Longbow series have given me a wealth of information on the systems of the AH-64, but since each sim incorporates the systems differently the virtual pilot needs the opportunity to learn how the sim handles these systems.
In lieu of training missions there is the ability to run what is called FREE FLIGHT from the main menu. Free Flight consists of a set of three missions (one from each campaign area - Cuba, Golden Triangle, and the Caspian Sea) where you can fly around and familiarize yourself with the systems, flight model, and weapons. Since there is no instructor pilot narrating these missions you are pretty much on your own to figure things out.
You can modify the weapons and waypoints of these missions, and there are enemy units included, but they are not part of the default waypoint setup. You will have to modify the waypoints manually if you wish to engage the enemy. You do not receive any debriefing for the free flight missions.
Go to Page Two: Single Missions