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/// Usenet Review:  Gunship 2000
    ----------------------------
    By Paul Anthony David Merlin Alexander Dale
    (No Email address available)


PRODUCT NAME

	Gunship 2000 version 3.01


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

	Gunship 2000 is a combat helicopter flight simulation.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

	Name:		Microprose
	Address:	Unit 1, Hampton Rd. Industrial Estate,
			Tetbury, Gloucestershire
			GL6 8LD
			England

	Telephone:	+44 666 504326


LIST PRICE

	34.99 pounds Sterling.  Mailorder price is 22.99.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

	HARDWARE

		1 MB RAM required for floppy systems.
		1.5 MB RAM required if you have a hard drive.

		Works on A500(+), A600, A1200, A2000, A2500, A3000.
		No mention of the 4000 :-(

	SOFTWARE
	
		None mentioned in the documentation.


COPY PROTECTION

	"Look up in the manual" copy protection, which I find acceptable.
You have to look up a number matching another number next to a flight patch
which is found in the given range of pages in the manual.  You have to do
this once per playing session.

	Hard drive installable.

	The game auto-saves onto the master disk, so DO NOT USE THE ORIGINAL
DISK!


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

	A1200, 2 MB chip, 2 MB 32 bit fast, 68881 (MBX1200z), 85 MB internal
IDE drive. WB 3.0 Phillips 8833 monitor, external floppy.  KONIX analogue
stick and mouse.

	
OVERVIEW

	Gunship 2000 ("GS2000") is primarily a helicopter flight simulator
in the same kind of way you might describe Birds of Prey as a aircraft
flight simulator.  There is what seems to be a good flight model for
helicopters (note that I am not a pilot for real :-), and a good bit of
blasting tacked on.


GAMEPLAY

	The gameplay is overall very good:  much better than any other
similarly pitched combat/flight simulator I have played (which include Birds
of Prey, B 17, Reach for the Skies).

* Main Selection Screen

	This allows you to choose mission types, theatre of operations
(currently "Gulf" or "Western Europe" but more are promised), pilot/flight,
and to go on to the briefing.  Selection is by hotspots in an animated
graphic (the guy at the desk is writing :-)).

* Briefing
	
	Three options here are to read the briefing notes, choose and equip
a helicopter (or the entire flight, see below), or to proceed with the
mission. The briefing notes detail all the important information, including
wind, visibility (which should influence your weapon choice), targets, time
of day, enemy activity, map locations and map, etc.  Most of this is
accessible in some form during flight.  Wind direction is an exception and
can be important if it is strong, so take note.

* Training

	The start point is as a novice combat helicopter pilot and a choice
of training missions or single helicopter missions.  Training is for you to
learn how to fly, to use all the helicopter systems, and develop tactics
with no risk (and no points).  The training missions are the same as the
real thing except you take no damage when hit.  With all the flying aids
switched on, the only way to "die" is to hit the ocean, and even then you
haven't lost your pilot.

* Combat

	So having got the hang of blasting numerous targets in training, you
will take on the real world using a limited range of helicopters (some are
for higher ranks only) and weaponry.  The missions are flown from land bases
or an assault ship against primary and secondary targets which range from
fixed placements and airfields to mobile recon groups or columns of T-72s.
The number of different land/sea/air types you come across is large and
includes MIGs, SU-27s, HINDS, patrol boats, numerous tank and other vehicle
types, SAMs, infantry, oil refineries (large explosions!), oil rigs,
mosques, advertising hoardings....  This is just a cross-section from the
Gulf Theatre.

	When in flight, most of your tactical planning will be done on your
in-flight map (F10) which has a strategic and operational level (a zoom).
All identified targets show up as well as bases, buildings, etc.  It's here
you can set up to three waypoints to aid your in-flight navigation
(accessible through at least three different displays during flight).  When
on this screen, action is paused so you can take your time in planning.
This is very important when commanding a flight.

	Successful missions bring promotions, medals, and points (not
necessarily the first two :-)).  Gaining sufficient points results in the
offer of a commission to lead a flight of 5 helicopters.  You can turn this
down, but why miss out?

	Commanding a flight gives you two more options in the flight
selection screen, FLIGHT and CAMPAIGN.  These are essentially the same but
the campaign is linked sorties rather than one-offs.  Now you have four
other guys who you have to assign helicopters and weapon loads according to
the task in hand.  You can split the flight into light and heavy sections to
perform different tasks.  The range of tasks now includes search and rescue,
cargo drops and squad drops/pick-ups.

	Once all armed and ready, you are on the pad where you access you
tactical map and start giving individual flight plans.  On the higher level
map, you can also tell each flight member what height and speed to fly at
and whether they are free to engage the enemy or not (weapons are either
free or held).  Other options are to disengage, regroup, land, return to
base, fly the indicated flight plan or drop cargo.

	The tactical map is the guts of the game in a lot of respects, as
here is where you plan all your tactics and execution.  Timing is important
as is planning flight paths and protecting the vulnerable members of the
flight.  You must always keep your objectives in mind (there's a summary on
the strategic map) and keep the other flight members in tight control.  For
key jobs, you often have to assume responsibility and go in yourself, but
you could command from the rear.  The computer AI for your buddies seems
good with sensible weapon selection (helped of course by your choosing the
load they carry) and a downright enthusiasm for taking out targets (sometimes
too enthusiastic).  The flight is generally every bit as efficient as you
are and takes comparable damage.  Often flight members are up for more
medals and promotions than you are.

	Seeing a well laid plan come to fruition and hearing the digitised
"Primary objective confirmed" from the back seat is very satisfying.


GRAPHICS AND SOUND

	The detail in the game is very good, certainly compared to other
similar style games.  There is a lot of terrain including roads through
canyons, pylons down roads, camels, oases, etc.  Visibility can be variable
and is well reflected:  it is genuinely more difficult to see when visibility
is bad through the use of different palettes.  Although some hills look more
like pyramids, there is a good feeling of texture to the land, and you do
feel like you're skimming along at an unhealthy rate very close to the
ground.

	The detail and speed of moving objects is very good as well.  On my
Amiga 1200 at 100 feet doing 140 knots, it seems plenty fast enough and not
as jerky as Birds Of Prey on an Amiga 500.  A friend reports that an
unaccelerated A2000 handles the game on full detail well (and he has Red
Baron).  On an A3000, I expect it to be a dream.

	Still pictures within the game are well drawn but nothing really
spectacular.  For those who know English cricket, the guy who is there to
comment on your mission afterwards is a doppleganger of Robin Smith.  His
wit isn't up to much.

	There is quite a lot of digitised speech with your counter
measures/weapons buddy pointing out targets and missiles.  A minor gripe is
that, apart from missiles or when you lose your optics, it is obvious there
is a target and "target left/target right/target confirmed/missile
left/right" becomes hard, fast and distracting.

	Another nice touch is the missile explosions.  Even if you don't get
hit, the explosion can be heard according to how close it is and will even
shake the 'copter so you can often be fooled into thinking you have been hit
when you haven't.  If the guy in the back doesn't scream "We're hit! We're
hit!"  and damage show on the panel then you're OK.

	Other sound effects are for the engine, rotors (yes there is engine
noise and the "thuwp" of rotors), explosions, rocket launches, cannons,
stirring selection screen music plus a few other tunes.


FLIGHT MODEL AND WEAPONS

	I have never even flown in a real helicopter let alone piloted one,
so I really can't say how accurate the model is compared to the real thing.
It does feel true, and the interaction between the collective and stick seems
very realistic and tricky to handle.  Wind is noticeable and a real factor.
Loss of stabilising influences, like (say) your tail :-), has a real and
dramatic effect (you spin round continuously :-)).  Weapon systems recoil
which has a subtle effect in that it slows your forward motion.  At high
speed, this has the effect of making you gain height as the nose comes up.

	Generally, firing weapons is OK except for rocket pods which need to
be aimed in a straight line.  This involves fancy flying because if you pull
up at 140 knots to fire, you gain a lot of height very quickly and slow to a
crawl.  In this position you are a sitting duck, so only use the M series
pods for turkey shoots.

	The array of weaponry is helicopter dependent; and as the available
helicopter is rank dependent, you only get the really good "fire and forget"
stuff later on.  In fact, the low rank missions are the real trial since with
better helicopters, weapons and more experience the later flights are easier
in many respects.


DOCUMENTATION

	The manual is what most have come to expect from Microprose these
days.  It is clear, reasonably well written and very full of information.
Unfortunately, the manual skimps a bit in certain areas, like what the detail
levels mean or exactly what is expected for certain mission types.  If you
want the armour for a T-72 then you're fine, but that isn't too much help.


LIKES AND DISLIKES

	The worst element is the very dodgy mouse handling for certain
screens.  From what I have found out from others and experience is that
accelerated machines, that is anything other than a 68000, has a juddery
mouse problem.  This makes selection very tiresome, especially on the
helicopter/munitions screen.  The keyboard alternatives don't seem to work
fully as advertised either.  Shoddy work.

	In flight, I haven't had any control problems except having to zero
my analogue by taking it to the map screens and correcting the drift on the
detailed map (tactical) where you can scroll around.  Again a bit shoddy.

	The game does also guru on my A1200 for an unknown reason.  I've
disabled the cache to no effect (doesn't cure the mouse problem either).  I
haven't tried using the ECS chipset as it boots fine in AGA and I don't see
why I should.  The guru frequency is low (about once per day) but seems to
only occur during flight which is annoying.

	Another gripe is the leaving out of the recording feature, by which
you could record and play back missions.  Reach for the Skies does this
without slowing, so why not GS2000 on my nippy A1200?  If it did adversely
affect speed I could turn down the detail or not use the feature or suffer a
marginally worse frame rate.  Let me choose though!!  I infer a lack of time
to do the full job.  I don't believe a 386 PC is any more capable.

	My main like is the overall quality of the graphics, sound, gameplay
and flight model.  This is an extremely addictive game to play and certainly
one of the best I have played.  Apart from the niggles above this is one
superb offering and will undoubtedly set a standard to be followed.  I've
not fully described all the features (check out the README file!) but there
is plenty to hook you and keep you going.  For seat-of-the-pants flying and
blasting action, Gunship 2000 is going to be hard to beat.


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

	Compared to Birds of Prey, B17 or Reach for the Skies, GS2000 wins
hands down.  This is one excellent game.


BUGS

	Dodgy mouse, keyboard, analogue stick handling (see DISLIKES).  No
mouse or keyboard problem on a A2000 though (and presumably a A500).
Undiagnosed guru on A1200; none reported on an A2000.


CONCLUSIONS

	A tremendous game packed with very high quality gameplay, graphics,
sound.  If you like action and flight simulators, this is a very good game
to buy.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE

        Copyright © 1993 Paul Anthony David Merlin Alexander Dale.
                           All rights reserved.

	Permission is granted to distribute this review by any means to any
person(s) under the conditions that no profit be made or the content changed
without the author's permission.