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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: January 20, 2003
Amidst a flood of complex strategic computer combat offerings released of late, have you ever wished for a pure 3D arcade shooter where reflexes are king and you blast away at everything in sight? Have you ever gotten frustrated with all the resource management, role playing, or multifaceted tactical decision making you have to tackle in so many of the current slate of computer releases? Well, Russian developer Divo Games has developed a new title, Air Strike 3D: Operation W.A.T., that appears to fit the bill exactly.
Air Strike 3D is a helicopter shooter incorporating a trendy “war against terrorism” theme. Arcade helicopter shooters have a long and glorious tradition on the personal computer, going back to Blue Byte’s breakthrough offering Extreme Assault and later Reality Pump’s excellent Heli Heroes. You pilot heavy battle helicopters, and your primary objective is to destroy terrorists’ secret bases and small arms factories around the world. You try to eliminate as many enemies as possible (while of course not getting killed) to get the highest score.
The background story is detailed, even though it is not necessary to get involved in its intricacies in order to succeed in the gameplay. A powerful underground terrorist network named N.I.T.O. has left the peaceful citizenry apprehensive for over three years, and now your intelligence sources just got an ominous report revealing plans of an upcoming terrorist attack. You go to Air Force headquarters, seeking more information, and the commander notes that N.I.T.O. has switched to the active phase of its operations, increasing oil output to get more money, building various weapons factories, and readying its stolen nuclear warheads for possible use. You are asked to act covertly, in order to avoid open confrontation with the terrorists, so you undertake a secret operation to destroy all of the terrorists’ strategic bases. The operation is especially difficult and dangerous because you have to act alone.
Air Strike 3D has 20 large levels with three powerful terrorist bosses. You may choose to play any mission you like, as long as you have completed it earlier; when you do finish a mission, new missions will become available for playing and you receive access to more powerful weapons. Mission objectives are not subtle or multifaceted, and instead generally involve some form of relatively mindless destruction. To keep things interesting, there are some night missions and varying weather conditions. Each completed mission concludes with a record of the enemies destroyed, stars collected, and your current rank, as well as an opportunity to change helicopters if you wish. Your success also merits continual promotions in rank.
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