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Team Apache is an attack helicopter flight simulator developed by Simis and published by Mindscape Group. The game emphasises on commanding a group of six AH-64 Apache crews of the US Army in battles against the Communist FARC insurgents in Colombia and the Russian military in Latvia.
Team Apache was at first developed by Simis under Eidos Interactive. When Simis' two lead developers, Jonathan Newth and Ian Baverstock bought the company back from Eidos, they became an independent development team once more and Mindscape purchased the publishing rights of the game.
The cockpit, sensor and flight modelling aspects of the game are a lot simpler than those of the Comanche series and the Longbow (computer game) flight simulators. Cockpit renders are not very advanced, and instruments are difficult to read. This applies to the rendered cockpit and the floating cockpit. The clear cockpit view is the easiest to use, but there are no sensor overlays. The gunner selects the targets most of the time, and players have reported some issues with his AI. ECM, radars and lasers cannot be toggled on or off. The flight modelling is not the most accurate on the helicopter sim market. For example, unwise maneuvres that warrant a crash can be performed without a hitch. In addition, hovering is a lot simpler than in the Comanche and Longbow games.
Team Apache is a different breed of helicopter flight simulator. Unlike most flight sims, Team Apache focuses less on the realism of flight and weapons systems modelling, and more on the gameplay aspects - consisting of command, tactics and battlefield realism.
Team Apache is unique among simulations in that it gives the player unparalleled control over his combat unit. The player is not just flying missions- he is also managing the morale of his men, supply and maintenance, and the tactical planning that takes place before the mission. Although the player's control over these factors is rather basic, few, if any, simulations have as much depth as Team Apache. The geopolitical causes of Team Apache's wars, related in both the game's manual and the "daily" newspaper, are both sophisticated and plausible. Detailed military-style SITREPs create a thorough picture of the tactical situation, and ground forces can be seen in the game fighting each other all throughout the theater using fairly realistic deployments and movements. These details provided by the game, combined with the player's control over his men and his equipment, make Team Apache one of the most immersive combat simulations ever published in some player's opinions.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of the game is the lack of time compression. During the Colombian campaign missions are short, lasting less than 15 minutes in most cases, but the Latvian campaign missions may involve travelling more than 100 kilometers round-trip. The player may turn on autopilot during these long transit periods but must still stay alert for enemy contact. Depending on your point of view, this either increases the immersion experience or wastes time. Players should not be concerned about playing the same long mission over and over again, though, because the campaigns, although linear, can be played by accepting your defeats and team's casualties and moving on to the next mission.
The storyline in Team Apache is highly developed. It develops through FMV sequences, in mission briefings and newspaper articles.
In 1998, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–Ejército del Pueblo or FARC-EP (Spanish for "Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People's Army") has staged a large-scale guerilla offensive against the government of Colombia. In its wake comes a wave of kidnappings and assassinations of high-ranking officials and their families. The corrupt and inefficient military of Colombia and police cannot hold their own against the insurgents, and need help from the United States. The United States needs to safeguard Colombia's oil industry and eliminate FARC's illegal cocaine industry.
Modes of play
Team Apache contains a host of play modes, including a multiplayer mode and a mission building application.
The Training missions give players the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the mechanics of flying the Apache helicopter. They are instructed by an artificial, gruff flight officer, one pilot McNab. While the learning curve in the actual game takes no more than two hours, the training missions are extremely rigid, and each instruction must be performed to precision.
This mode instantly plunges the player into arcade-style combat. The player has no team to command or get support from, and there is no mission structure. The objective is to simply engage and destroy as many enemy vehicles and troops as the player can around a circular course that leads back to the base each time.
The Combat Missions are a series of realistic, structured missions during which the player takes command of a team of Apaches. They are much like the Campaign missions themselves, but they are independent of one another and can be repeated upon completion. These are the following mission types:
Air to Air
In the Colombian scenario, the player must lead the company to hunt down FARC 500MD Defender light helicopters. In the Latvian version, a large group of Mil Mi-24, Mi-28 and Ka-50 attack helicopters are approaching to destroy the Apache company's base.
Search and Destroy
While there are different mission types, the objective remains the same for each. However, the weather, the time of day, the location of the mission, the number of Apaches accompanying the player, and the difficulty can be adjusted. The player begins the mission on the ground, takes off, and follows a route dotted with Aerial Check Point (ACP) destinations to find and eliminate the target or rendezvous with an ally and achieve the objective. Auto-pilot can be activated to easily navigate and find the APCs.
This mode allows the player to take control of a company of six Apache helicopters - plus a spare. Under the player's command are eight pilots, eight co-pilot/gunners, and sixteen crew chief personnel. The player can choose a name with limited characters, and can also select the division and company the team will belong to:
Army Attack Helicopter Units
The player can roam around a pre-rendered army base, and enter a building by highlighting the title above it and clicking it. The areas that can be accessed include the repair hangar, the pilot's barracks, the briefing room, the commander's quarters, and the landing strip to start the mission.
The pilots under your command are realistic, and each has a rich background well described in their biographies. However, their catchphrases are not so convincing. The player will need to weigh their strong points against their weaknesses, and from their assessment select the best pilots for the team.
The damage report tells the commander what parts need to be repaired, and can judge how many crew chiefs will be needed to make the repairs in time for the next mission. The player can tell them whether to load AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or Hydra 70 rockets.
Team Apache comes with a fairly simple mission creator utility. The user is allowed to set the takeoff and landing points of his helicopter unit and place enemy and friendly ground units. It's possible to give initial orders to ground units, but no sea units can be placed, and the only air units other than the player's helicopters that can be placed are enemy helicopter flights, which hover over their location and can't be given orders in the mission creator.
The user then sets point values for the Major Defeat, Defeat, Draw, Victory, and Decisive Victory win levels. He can adjust the default weapons load for the mission and can set a briefing. The user saves the mission and opens it in the game in the "Combat Mission" screen, where he can then adjust the mission's weather, time, difficulty, and the number of aircraft in his flight each time he plays.
The mission creator is not full-feature and does not have all of the functions present in the missions that come with the game.
The player cannot communicate with ground or air units outside his wing, but he can request reinforcements and artillery strikes. Many friendly ground and air forces are present in each mission.
Friendly units include:
- A-10 Thunderbolt II Close Air Support
- F-15 Eagle tactical fighters
- F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters
- UH-60 Black Hawk transport helicopters
There are two main adversaries Team Apache will face. The first is that of the FARC. These are the equipment they use in the Colombian Campaign:
- McDonnell Douglas 500MD Defender II light gunship and multi-role helicopter
- Cessna drug-transport aircraft
The Russian forces have the following equipment:
- MiG-27 'Flogger-J' ground attack fighter
- Mil Mi-8 'Hip' transport helicopter
- Mil Mi-24 'Hind' heavy gunship helicopter
- Mil Mi-28 'Havoc' attack helicopter
- ZSU-23-4 Shilka mobile gun
- 2S6 Tunguska SAM/AAA vehicle
- SA-3, SA-6, SA-8, SA-9, SA-11, SA-12 and SA-13 SAMs
Armored Fighting Vehicles'
- Patrol boat