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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: May 10, 1999
All those riveted to the news about the NATO bombing of Serbian targets to save ethnic Albanians in Kosovo know that, at an absolutely critical point in the intervention, the suggestion was made to have Apache helicopters sent in to destroy Serbian tanks. Although many American onlookers may have known this was an escalatory military tactic, and even that helicopters can be lethal instruments of war, the true significance was lost on many outside observers. The question was asked, “What’s so crucial about using Apache helicopters when we have already employed F-117 Stealth bombers?” Well, Apaches are indeed very special fighting machines.
Apache Havoc is the latest in a recent series of simulations featuring the Apache AH-64D Longbow helicopter. In late 1997, Jane’s Combat Simulations released Longbow 2, a breakthrough offering that quite simply set a new standard for realism on the PC. Then last year came Team Apache from Simis and SSI, a product focusing more on fun gameplay and helicopter company team operations. These titles were so sufficiently advanced in different ways that some thought the final word on helicopter simulations had been laid down.
In that daunting context, Razorworks Studios, a new company based in Oxford, England, just finished developing and releasing Apache Havoc. But Razorworks is by no means composed of a bunch of newcomers to the genre; it was founded by a collection of experienced military simulation designers from Digital Integration, with the likes of Tornado, Hind and Apache Longbow under their belts. When compared to its predecessors, Apache Havoc seems to be less pure simulation than Longbow 2 but more realistic in its flight model than Team Apache.
The Razorworks team decided to be really ambitious and not just simulate the American Apache but also its nemesis, the Russian Mi-28N Havoc B helicopter. The Apache is more technologically sophisticated, with its superior avionics, but has a higher vulnerability to attack and lower firepower; the Havoc is more primitive but thicker-skinned and more deadly. (This pattern is typical when comparing many different kinds of American and Russian military vehicles and weapons systems.) Most simulations of this type replicate only a single model, so the company clearly had its hands full with background research and design issues. Razorworks is so confident, it is already planning its follow-up game, a helicopter simulation called Comanche Hokum, featuring the American Comanche and the Russian Hokum. It is supposed to be interoperable with Apache Havoc, meaning each title should be able to import and export helicopters from the other.
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