Despite the huge rostra of games lining the Xbox One store, you can probably count the number of flight simulators with the fingers of one hand. So it was with some degree of excitement that we welcomed the opportunity to give Air Missions: HIND a test spin.
The brainchild of 3DIVISION, an up and coming game development company based in Kosice, Slovakia, Air Missions: HIND is an action combat flight simulator based on the Russian Mi-24 Hind assault helicopter, also known as the “Flying Tank.” The Mi-24 is considered one of the most widely regarded troop transports with room for eight passengers and has been used by the Soviet Air Force since 1972.
Air Missions: Hind gives you a chance to sample life as a helicopter pilot through 15 challenging single player campaigns spread over four continents, including Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Arctic Ocean and Southeast Asia. The game also offers a robust multiplayer option with no less than three modes; Deathmatch, Instant Action, and Online co-operative missions.
When you first fire up Air Missions: HIND you’re presented with the choice of play / control styles; casual, novice or pilot. This will of course determine your difficulty level so it’s wise to choose carefully here. The opening mission in Air Missions: HIND is a training scenario which walks you through the controls of an Mi-24. Using the Xbox One controller instead of a joystick is something of a culture shock and it took us a while to get used to using pretty much every button on the controller to fly our chopper.
To say that the training mission has a steep learning curve would be something of an understatement. Starting off with basic controls such as taking off, adjusting your altitude, pitching and following designated waypoint markers, your quickly thrown into the thick of battle. It took us something close to two hours to finally complete the training mission. But once we did, the feeling of achievement was almost tangible. 3DIVISION appear to acknowledge the challenge in the training mission by rewarding you with new weapons as soon as you complete it. A nice touch that is much appreciated.
Air Missions: HIND offers a wide variety of missions which will test your mettle as a chopper pilot. As we noted earlier, there are 15 campaigns to complete. They range from blowing up convoys, taking on enemy helicopters and picking up stranded men. As you complete each mission you’re rewarded with new weapons including UPK 23 machineguns, GUV gunpods, FAB bombs, and a huge number of missiles. This challenge and reward system really helps reinforce the feeling that you’re making slow but steady progress.
It’s worth mentioning that, because this is a flight sim, the ingame physics are brutally realistic. This means that, just because you’re pointing your guns at the enemy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll hit them. Instead you need to calculate their speed and, in many cases, fire ahead of where they are so you can hit where they will be.
Graphically, Air Missions: HIND is nothing short of a visual treat. Your Mi-24 and the surrounding panorama have been recreated with an incredible eye for detail. We experienced no frame rate issues and, whether you choose the in cockpit view or the third person perspective, everything looks incredibly detailed and true to life. Honestly, if this wasn’t a combat sim, you could quite easily spend hours just flying around admiring the view. It really does look that good.
3DIVISION have also pushed the boat out in the audio department. Each weapon has a distinctive report and the impact of missiles on their target is nothing short of breath taking.
At the time of review, we were unable to test the multiplayer option as the game has just gone on sale. But with the huge number of flight sim gamers who previously were confined to the PC, it’s a no brainer that, over the months to come, the multiplayer option will be a huge draw for gamers.
If we had any gripes with the game it has to be with the steep learning curve. It took us six missions before we were really comfortable with the controls and confident enough to take off, engage targets, land, pick up men and take off again without worrying about splashing into the terrain.
But this minor niggle aside, Air Missions: HIND is a fun, challenging and hugely rewarding flight combat sim. The game looks amazing, it’s tough but fair and, if you ever wondered whether you had the minerals to become a combat chopper pilot, this is your chance. Go buy and fly.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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