Somewhere in the depths of the Middle East, a madman by the name of General Kilbaba has taken over a rich Rab Emirate and is planning to end the world by killing us all with a nasty cocktail of nuclear and chemical weapons. The US President has decided to send in you and your trusty Apache helicopter to sort out the situation and hopefully avert Armageddon. An excellent intro sequence takes you into the game, with some nicely drawn animations, and a good rave-type soundtrack. Quite what this has got to do with battles in the desert I don’t know, but it’s rather good anyway.
The game is broken up into several missions, which are then split into several tasks, such as destroying an airfield. Completing one mission gives you the password to start the next one. There’s no way that you’ll be able to complete the mission on the stocks of fuel and weapons that you start out with, but fortunately, the enemy have been considerate enough to leave some lying around. You control your helicopter with the joystick and keyboard. As you’d expect, the joystick tilts the helicopter, moving you forwards or backwards, which takes a bit of time to get used to. The fire-button fires your chosen weapon, and the space-bar switches between the three available.
Desert Strike runs in a 3D, isometric sort of viewpoint, which takes a bit of getting used to. Unfortunately, this means that objects sometimes disappear behind others, but this is only a small inconvenience. Steering the helicopter is something of an acquired habit, because it takes a bit of time to get used to the angle of view. The mix of low-level strategy and shoot ’em up action is a curious but successful combination. It might seem a chore to have to continually replenish the Apache’s supplies in the heat of battle, but the game would be much duller if the strategy elements had been left out. In fact, the finished game has a special ‘fire- and-forget’ cheat which will give you unlimited ammo so you can play it as an out-and-out shoot ’em up. All things considered, Desert Strike couldn’t be a better game. The mix is just right, the action fast and frantic and the missions suitably varied to keep you coming back again and again.