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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: February 14, 2002
When a company develops a reputation for a certain kind of product, it can be either a blessing or a curse. NovaLogic has had the image of being a consistent creator of light simulation titles, replicating in a reasonable, if not perfectly authentic manner, real military vehicles and their combat performance. So what happens when the firm tries to develop something more of the arcade action variety? In its new release Comanche 4, you get the opportunity to take the controls of a RAH-66 Boeing-Sikorsky Comanche, the highly advanced ferocious attack and reconnaissance helicopter, and engage in a true blastfest.
The one thing Comanche 4 is clearly not is a flight simulation. Rather than worrying about controlling an aircraft or flight performance, you can just move around at will and obliterate all the enemies you see. The offering has clear appeal to mainstream gamers, with no lengthy learning curve requiring you to bore through hefty boring manuals. In many ways, this title resembles a first-person shooter in the air, although stealth is often more effective than blasting everything to smithereens. In deference to simulation fans, however, you may customize settings to make control of flying at least a bit more realistic.
The physical environments for Comanche 4 are huge wide open landscapes. You fly over arctic zones, thick jungles, raging seas, sweltering deserts, desolate islands, and urban battlegrounds. Everything takes place during daytime hours so that you do not have to worry about relying on night vision. The environments are incredibly interactive, best exemplified by what happens when your helicopter hovers at a low level: the wind generated by your rotor blades makes dust kick up, trees sway, grass quiver, water ripple, and nearby humans cover their faces. In addition, shots from different weapons leave distinctive markings on the terrain. However, the environments do share an awful lot of similarities with each other.
A wide assortment of enemies confront you at all times. These foes attack you in several types of vehicles, including destroyers, dune buggies, ground troops, jets, snowmobiles, speedboats, tanks, and of course, other attack helicopters. Enemy targets are scattered all over the place, so you rarely face a lull in the action; but their initial location never changes each time you try a mission, so you are able simply to memorize where and when you will be attacked each time. You frequently will find it advantageous to hide behind mountains to evade enemy detection, and in a reciprocal manner other helicopters out to get you will attempt to catch you by surprise. The presence of antiterrorist operations in the game fits squarely into the current global security atmosphere in the wake of the September 11th attack.
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