One of the gunner's views
If you didn’t know, Apache helicopters actually require two pilots; one is in charge of controlling the aircraft while the other is in charge of the weapon systems, thus making it perfect for co-op. Apache: Air Assault offers local co-op where these roles are played out. Sadly, it’s a bit weird because instead of offering split screen play with independent views, players much share the view of the screen. So while the pilot’s view is perfect for flying around, the gunner only has a green cursor to control during this time. You can press a button and switch to the gunner’s seat or gunner’s view - and the pilot still has control - but again, it makes it a bit difficult for one of the players to see. It would have been nice to offer this method of co-op play online, but sadly, it’s not.
The good news is there is four player online co-op through a bunch of missions where each player controls their own chopper. These missions are similar to their single player counter-parts and offer some really good co-op strategy, requiring both teamwork and communication to complete. In one mission a player was assigned a drone helicopter that has to assign targets for the other player’s whose radars are damaged and can’t target on their own. Others had us escorting a boat while enemies attacked from four separate directions.
The online co-op is an absolute blast. If you can get a good group of players together, the experience is top notch as you both work as a team and communicatel. There were many times we’d call out enemy helicopter positions in our allies blind spot saving their neck.
Once you finish the single player and multiplayer campaigns you can try tackling different difficulty levels - which not only make the AI harder, but make the controls more realistic. And for the truly hardcore there’s a variety of USB based flightsticks that will work with the game as well.
Finally, the game offers a “Free roam” mode that is basically a mission generator for the game’s numerous campaign locales. You can fly around these endlessly until your you get bored of blowing up guys shooting RPGs out of the back of pickup trucks.
Apache: Air Assault was a pleasant surprise for me. I honestly did not expect to enjoy the game as much as I did. Everything felt really polished, the missions were fun, and the graphics were good. That’s almost everything you can ask for in a game. While the local co-op is a bit of a disappointment, the online co-op mode is truly excellent. Stacked in all of this is plenty of content and replayability which ends up being a solid value for your $50. We may be a long way from the days of the hardcore flight simulators on the PC, but if more games like Apache: Air Assault come around, we may end up seeing a resurgence of the genre.
The Co-Op Experience: Play locally with a friend as one controls the pilot and another the gunner in same screen co-op. Play online with up to three other friends through a variety of missions where each player controls their own helicopter.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.