There are several phases to GS2K.  Initially, you are a novice pilot who must complete flight training before being qualified to fly combat missions. In flight training, you are supposed to learn the to fly the helicopter, operations of the weapons systems, etc.  Enemy fire has no effect on your helicopter in this mode. After training, you are qualified for combat ops.  There are 8 total helicopters in the game which you can fly: the AH-64A Apache, The AH-64B Longbow Apache, the AH-1W SuperCobra, the AH-66A Comanche (2 versions), the OH-58D Kiowa Scout, the UH-60K Blackhawk, and the AH-6D Defender. However,you can’t fly the better equipment until you prove yourself in combat.  Each helicopter has its own selection of weapons, and picking the right copterfor the job can be important. Each copter has its own features and cockpit layout (the cockpits look quite nice). After flying a certain number of single-helicopter operations, you can graduate to controlling a flight of 5 copters, divided into a heavy section of 3, and a light section of 2.  There is a primary and a secondary objective to each mission, and you can send one section after the primary and one after the secondary, send both sections to either objective, or anyother combination.  You have some limited control over the individual helicopters; you can give them destinations, and commands such as “hold position”, “land”, “disengage from combat”, “rejoin formation”, etc.  They also have some degree of independence:  they will attack targets of opportunity or defend themselves against aggression. You can review the systems status of each copter, including damage, remaining weapons,remaining fuel, and cargo. This can be important when deciding which member of a flight to send into a dangerous situation, or whether to send acritically wounded flight member back to base early.  By controlling the paths of helicopters, you can use terrain as a shield when approaching a combat area.  You can use tactics such as safely landing your gas-guzzling and cargo-laden Blackhawk helicopters behind the shelter of a hill while your Apache Gunships sweep the landing zone to eliminate any opposition.  Scouts can be used to supply remote target designation for hidden gunship.  During combat, you can jump to an outside view of any helicopter to see what it is doing. You can take an active part in combat operations in your helicopter, or just fly in to a spot near the battle, park safely behind a hill, and tell your other flight members what to do. Other flight members will fill you in on their actions, such as “I’m engaging target”, or “Primary objective sighted”. Your flight members all have skill levels, and loosing one in combat gets you a new rookie to train from scratch. Experienced pilots are tolerably but not exceptionally intelligent.

Combat is quite well done. Weapons are modeled well, both yours and the enemies. You are able to fight with better weapons systems as you gain combat experience. These can make a critical difference in the battle: getting good fire-and-forget weapons instead of helicopter-guided ones can tilt the table in your favor. Proper use of terrain is a must.  If you simply charge into battle with an armored unit, guns blazing, you are not likely to last very long,especially with enemy skill set high.  Instead, you must plan your attack carefully. One tactic is to hover behind some covering terrain such as a hillside or ridge, pop up over the top, launch a weapon, and dive as soon as the weapon has hit. This limits your exposure to hostile fire. This situation is, however, complicated by the fact that the bad guys will notice you and shoot back. . With low skill opponents, it might take them 10 or more seconds to shoot back. With highly skilled opponents, they will have their shots off as quickly as you do. Thus, to avoid being hit you must dive behind cover early, meaning your shot was not guided in and is likely to miss its target. Since ordinance is quite limited, this can be a major problem. Other problems involve getting close enough for a targeting solution – often you must fly between two hills with no protection from the terrain, making you a sitting duck for SAMs or AA fire. In this situation it is tempting to fly straight for the things which are shooting at you, but this is usually not wise.  Your copilot helps out by calling out things like”incoming right!”, or “target left!”.  Before a crash he will also say,”We’re going in!”. Also, stereo sound effects are supported, so you can often hear which direction a missile is coming from even before you see it. There are a wealth of little details in combat taken care of which make the game seem much more realistic. The maps seem to be dynamically generated for each mission. Terrain features are quite varied, and include various hills, canyons, rivers, trenches, buildings, etc. There are lots of little details such as animals, billboards, bridges, and many other things. The terrain uses polygon mountains. You must be willing to spend some time in order to get good at it – it isn’t something you can master in one flight. But it should appeal to any simulation fan. Re-playability is high since maps and missions seem to be dynamically generated.

More news: Generation Amiga magazine