Apache: Air Assault review

  • Realistic flight
  • Raining hot death on your enemies
  • Apache helicopters
  • Incredibly steep learning curve for control
  • Boring missions
  • Apache helicopters

While it’s more than understandable that some people may harbor massive throbbing power fantasies about piloting airborne, heavily-armored death machines (there’s a dick joke in there somewhere), realistic flight simulators are truly awkward beasts to behold in today’s gaming world. Not many other game genres can deliberately focus on creating the most complex control interface possible or design an obnoxiously overcrowded HUD and still be considered fun. Touted as the “all helicopter combat game you’ve been waiting for,” Gaijin Entertainment’s Apache: Air Assault has just hit retailer shelves. So, how does the flight sim fare?

The first thing we need to touch on is the issue of control. Apache has two different difficulty modes to start: Training and Realistic. Realistic employs all of the subtle nuances that affect an attack helicopter during flight like wind resistance, current speed, position of the aircraft, alignment of the stars, etc. This basically means that your Apache handles like a dead elephant filled with wet cement; however, we can’t really knock the game for this. Flying a whirly bird is supposed to be difficult. What we will knock is the lack of any competent tutorials to help you understand the intricacies of flying an Apache. If you choose to play the game the way it’s meant to be played, get ready to spend some quality time with trial and error because the learning curve is steep and the game does very little to soften that particular blow. On the other hand, you can eschew all of the control issues for a more arcade-y feel with the much more forgiving Training difficulty if you’re a pretty pink fairy princess.

The game basically has no story or characters to speak of. Sure, each mission is prefaced by a giant wall of text that details the who, what, where and why of all the tiny little specs you’re shooting at, but you quantum leap into the roles of a couple different Apache pilot teams (all of whom you never get to actually see) conducting missions around the globe, so the overall narrative of the game is a veritable clusterf**k. The radio chatter is also incredibly sparse throughout missions.  In the end, all you come away with is that there are terrorists, or pirates or pirate-terrorists and it’s your job to KILL THEY DEAD.

About 80% of the mission structure is “fly to this area and kill everything” with the other 20% relying on escort missions and defending ally NPCs that exhibit the self-preservation instincts of mentally challenged termites. Not that any of these objectives are really conveyed well (if at all). In the back of your mind, you know that the tiny little voices on the radio are trying to communicate something important, but you can’t hear any of that over the massive artillery you’re unloading along with the worthless action soundtrack that you’ve heard 20 freaking times because the game only has four freaking songs that all sound like a homogenized mishmash of every Call of Duty and Medal of Honor theme released to date. Completing each mission awards decals, paint jobs and different combat choppers that you can check out in Apache’s Hanger mode. Once you’ve pimped out your favorite helicopter, you can even take still shots and save the pictures if you’re a complete weirdo.

The game also has a local co-op function for the campaign where one player mans the guns and the other pilots the chopper, but this game mode’s design veers more towards destroying friendships than actually being fun. Both players share a single screen, which means that your friend gets to move the aiming reticule around while shouting at you to stop flying like such an asshole. Online multiplayer is a step in the right direction as each player gets his or her own Apache to tackle a set of cooperative missions, but that just means you aren’t going to be the only one nose-diving into a mountainside now. 

Graphically, each helicopter shows a fair level of detail and the sprawling vistas can paint a pretty picture… from a distance. Once you look a little closer, the environments are ugly as sin and humans look like they’re made of cardboard. Nothing about this game looks like it belongs on a next-gen system.

It’s hard to recommend this game to anyone but the most hardcore of flight simulator fans. As in, you have to be unreasonably hardcore. As in, you have Apache-themed bedspread and keep a picture of a Boeing AH-64A in your wallet that you stare at longingly throughout the day.

Nov 30, 2010

More Info

Release date: Nov 16 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Nov 19 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Flight
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Gaijin Entertainment
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Violence


  • Opustoruk - April 18, 2011 3:46 p.m.

    I loved the demo for this game. I myself love flight sims, and I've been waiting for a new AH-64D sim sience Team Apache for the PC. The controls for this game are great, be it on training or realistic, the author of this review just obviously has something against a challenging and well built flight sim. Concerning the learning curve, I can kind of agree with the author though, most gamers today are dull and dim and just expect an easy hack and slash or point and shoot game; nothing too technical or where you have to learn a new stratagem or play style. Then again I've noticed that major gaming websites like Gamesradar and IGN give great scores and great reviews to major releases from major game companies like Bungie or Bethesda or Epic Games, but when a smaller game comes around like this one or even something like ChromeHOUNDS they look for every little ting they can use to downsize and descriminate it...
  • nuchbutter - December 8, 2010 1:23 p.m.

    Captain, we'll see you online in your Apache. It's blowing up out there... Gamertag: Nuchbutter
  • CaptainDash - December 4, 2010 1:42 p.m.

    Hear, hear Nuchbutter!! I loved the helicopter controls in the demo...everyone knows that helicopters are more difficult to fly than fixed wing aircraft and so a steep learning curve is not unexpected. Just because I own a console doesnt mean I have any less coordination than my PC buddies, why should console games be dumbed down for masses all the time? Also wondering why couldnt they get a reviewer who at least had a mild interest in aviation to review the game? I'm not suggesting a sim-nut who makes cardboard cockpits in his garage but at least someone who could possibly enjoy the game. Helicopters are prohibitively expensive to learn to fly, so a reasonably accurate modeling of the cyclic/collective controls on a Xbox 360 game is brilliant!! If you actually like flying and dare I say a small challenge, then check out some alternative reviews and download the demo. I personally cant wait to get online.
  • nuchbutter - December 3, 2010 12:38 a.m.

    There is a burgeoning online community that thoroughly enjoys flying this sim, and almost all of them do not have helicopter pilot qualifications. Maybe it's anecdotal, but most love this game, as evidenced on Live or the various forums. That being said, as a ~6000 hour Navy combat aviator, I most strenuously assert that this is the most fun I've had on my 360 since it came out in 2005. Check my gamer-tags (Nuchbutter or Ale Gator), and see all the games I've played, if you want to figure out if I have any credibility. For the reviewer to just out-of-hand dismiss this title smacks of a shoddy, careless work ethic. I'm curious to know just how many fingers he had left after counting the number of minutes actually spent trying to play the game. I understand that frustration born of incompetence makes one vulnerable to developing a "sour grapes" attitude. It must be rough going through life having to bravely turn around and flee every time one runs up against a challenge. Perhaps there's a 12-Step program for him...
  • aham1994 - November 30, 2010 10:31 p.m.

    I just go to the CH-47F simulator with my dad. Really hard to figure out.
  • CreedKotetsu - November 30, 2010 6:44 p.m.

    It almost sounds like it mainly suffered for the player not being very good. :0 I faired just fine in realistic mode. Just gotta get a feel for it!
  • Stabby_Joe - November 30, 2010 5:24 p.m.

    Woah! This is definitely one of the lower scores this game has earned. I suppose the learning curve is a make or break for some. I'd have to play a demo first to decide.
  • Baron164 - November 30, 2010 5:10 p.m.

    I played the demo for this and I had such a meh feeling about it. With all the great games to play I won't be picking this up until I can pull it out of the bargain bin on the cheap. The flight controls were not done well for a game-pad at all. They should have put in a true arcade style control system something similar to Mercs 2 or hell even Crackdown 2's choppers fly better. At least in those games the helicopters were fun and easy to fly.
  • alanpartridge_ahaaa - November 30, 2010 4:56 p.m.

    Adverts for this game was all over your site this week... does this review mean one of you is getting fired???! :-)
  • CharlieFockstrot - November 30, 2010 4:34 p.m.

    Played the demo lots, Fun in places, Controls sucked big D. Can't Games radar put a block on any post with http://WWW...... Or wouldn't that work?
  • IsaacFenix - November 30, 2010 4:25 p.m.

    Damn spam bots, they always get super active around the holidays; it's like a series of terrorist cells being activated at once, only instead of death and chaos, these bots spread annoyance and links.
  • SideOfBeef - November 30, 2010 4:11 p.m.

    This really bums me out, yet another game with great potential falling victim to the sim cycle. Budget goes into the sim, the game side falls behind, this review gets written, nobody buys because the game is lacking, so future titles only have enough money for the sim.
  • ShaneCedt - November 30, 2010 3:52 p.m.

    Loved this article! Funny stuff.
  • MidnightOwl - November 30, 2010 3:39 p.m.

    I thought the demo was really good, but that had to do with the potential for mastering the controls. I had a feeling the "story" wouldn't be so hot.
  • tareq - November 30, 2010 3:39 p.m.

    Love and hate APache helicopters lol
  • Vercatron - November 30, 2010 3:38 p.m.

    Gosh this looks awful... :/ (First)

Showing 1-16 of 16 comments

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