Gunship 2000 logo Gamer Gold

After months sitting in the debriefing room, it's finally time to take a firm grip of your helmet and auto-rotate yourself into oblivion!

I can't remember how many moons ago it was that Microprose released the original Gunship. But I do remember I was only a slip of a lad. I remember halcyon days of laughter, music and sunshine.
Memories of mother's dumplings came flooding back, and how she'd beat me senseless with her suet stick. Little did I know that training of that nature would prepare me for my vacation of life: War correspondent for Amiga Computing! But enough of this reminiscing, back to Gunship.

The original was immediately heralded a classic, selling over one million copies and scooping up an army of gaming awards. Since then, there have been others to follow in the footsteps of the grandfather of helicopters sims. I think most of us will remember the outstanding Thunderhawk. This, while offering superior graphics, was slightly let down by a tricky control system.

To all intents and purposes, this has always been the problem with this particular genre. Helicopters are damned complicated pieces of equipment for programmers to replicate. Either the visuals suffer form poor, juddery graphics or the control systems vary from simplistic through to requiring the dexterity of an octopus.

So, with all these and other queries rolling around in my noggin, I set forth to discover whether Microprose have spawned an auto-rotating prodigy or given birth to a collective failure.

Once I had my grubby maulers delving inside the box, the first thing my paws came into contact with was the manual. To say it's extensive is an understatement: the best part of 200 pages of instructions and techno-data, had me gulping hard in my best war-torn correspondent-type gulp.

It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it - or some macho type once said. So, with a casual shrug of the shoulders, I booted up. The first thing to greet me was a stunning intro sequence showing the AH-64A - or Apache to his friends - shooting large projectiles at your monitor!

After the cinematic intro screens, it's off to Fort Rucker to begin active duty within the US Army Aviation Centre. You begin life as a lowly Warrant Officer candidate. But with training and hard work, the sky's the limit.

The first option screen allows you to choose which theatre of war you wish to take part in. These vary between central Europe and the Persian Gulf, although Microsoft are promising add-on disks in the near-future to widen the scope further. You can also take the liberty of training - never a bad idea - before rushing headlong into the fray.

Having pondered these and other options, it's time for mission briefing. Here, one can view orders, plot waypoints for targets and read enemy movements. As this is a true simulator, you are also given atmospherics such as wind speed and weather conditions to puzzle over.

There's a decline mission option, but I'm sure all you tattooed, granite-chinned, beer drinking ex-marine types wouldn't dream of doing such a lily-livered thing. Would you?

Anyway, before you go for your re-enaction of the first episode of the Whirly Birds, it's always fun to go shopping at the ordinance stores. This screen allows you to look at the hardware at your disposal.

The action takes place in the near future, around the year 2000 to be precise - surprise, surprise! Much of the helicopter technology on offer is still in the development stage. This means that you get to fly these ultra powerful machines of the future before the real aero-jocks do!

You get to choose form eight of the beasts, all having different uses and qualities. From the ultra-modern Longbow Apache Gunship, through to the older 'copters like the Cobra, the choice is yours. Next on the shopping list is a vast arsenal of attack and defence systems. Your choice of destructive toys is vast and plenty enough to keep the craziest of air-wolves happy.

Having selected your craft and weaponry it's time for the crunch. Ascending up into the great blue yonder can be made as real or as shoot-'em-up as you like. This is thanks to a set of toggles that allow you to alter the majority of features likely to affect flight.

Once in the cockpit it's hard not to notice the quality of the graphics. Both the internal and external views look very effective. But, how does she handle? That's the burning question!

Now, I'm not going to bore you with the aeronautics of vertical flight. This is because, quite frankly I haven't got a bloody clue. All I do know is that the first element of chopper control is the collective.
This refers to the angle of attack adopted by the rotors; the steeper the blade angle, the greater the lift. On Gunship, this aspect is dealt with via the keyboard. The second part of the equation is the cyclic which behaves exactly like, and is controlled by the joystick. Finally, there's the anti-torque rotor which again is keyboard operated. It sounds fairly complicated - that's because it is. But, as I said, the manual is in-depth and where I stole all the above info from.

Once you've mastered the control system, which is quite user friendly, it's time to fight the touch paper and start the fireworks.

Gunship moves as quickly and as smoothly as any flight sim I have yet to see on the Amiga. This has not been achieved at the cost of detail either.

The terrain is both interesting and varied. It's not unlikely for you to screech past billboards or even to harass a resting camel - that's on the Chester Zoo mission by the way!
The whole smoothness and variety of the landscape is thanks to a new system which generates terrain with undulations. All I can say is seeing is believing!

In terms of action, there's more than enough. Everything is controlled in your bird, by state-of-the-art HUD controls. It's a good job because when it's tin-hat time, you've really got a hob on your hands. The enemy craft are plentiful and very well defined. They move about the play area quickly and for once there's no noticeable loss of pace on screen update.

The variety of assailants is also amazing. So whether it's a HIND gunship or a T-72 battle tank, just get on his six, target your Hellfires and watch his pinko comma ass fry. The great thing is, you can watch said commy's ass fry from loads of angles. For example, you can watch the action from the missile you've just launched or even form the enemy's perspective.

The sonics too are excellent. The choppers really sound as though they chop. The explosions are really beefy and the sampled speech from your co-pilot highly convincing.

As if I hadn't sang Gunship's praises enough, come here, there's more! The number of missions at your disposal is vast. Also, as you progress in rank, the more sophisticated helicopters become yours for the taking. Plus, at the higher ranks you become eligible for wing-men and full blow campaign options.

Really I haven't the space to say everything I want to about this monster piece of software. I predict Gunship 2000 will become the god of the simulator world. It's an absolutely awesome, most excellent, cracker of a game. I heartily recommend that everyone rush out and buy the definitive helicopter simulator now.

Anyway, I'm off to take to the skies once more. Blue Thunder eat your heart out!

Gunship 2000 AH-64A Apache Gunship. Finest attack helicopter in the air. Versatility and ruggedness are its greatest assets. Gunship 2000 AH-1W SUper Cobra. While smaller than the Apache, it's fast, agile and a sturdy weapons platform.
Gunship 2000 AH-6 Defender. A very capable, dual-role lightweight performer. Can mount a deadly mix of weapons. Gunship 2000 0H-58D Kiewa Warrior. The eyes of the gunships. Always on the look-out, and a masterful fighter in its own right.
Gunship 2000 UH-60K/L Blackhawk. The heavyweight of the stable. Good for all that's transported, picked up or rescued. Gunship 2000 AH-66A Commanche Gunship. Ultra-modern systems and hard-hitting weapons make this a powerful performer.
Gunship 2000
AH-66A Commanche Scout. Very similar to its heavyweight brother, but fitted with a "stealth" airframe.

Gunship 2000 logo

Flight sim buffs listen up! This is no ordinary game - and it is not just gunships you get to control. If you are power-hungry - feed on this...

Having already done flight simulations about hidden stealth (F19) and maximum overkill (F15), MicroProse's latest helicopter sim is the greatest yet. Starting out as a lowly Warrant Officer candidate, you go through an entire career as an American Army helicopter pilot.

You can eventually command a squadron of four pilots on many different mission types. But first, though, you have to convince your superiors that you are up to the job. To start with, only training missions and single chopper flights are available. When you have clocked up enough points and decorations, and you are offered a commission.

Crashing choppers
Gunship 2000 has more than just gunships in it. They are no good for picking up troops or dropping off cargo. You can choose from seven different helicopter models, although some are reserved for the higher ranks. All of which makes for a long term game.

Choppers are notoriously difficult to fly, but you can make it as realistic or esy as you wish. 'No Crashes' is recommended unless you are very confident - there are no parachutes in a helicopter!

The music, sound and background graphics are of the highest standard. The intro is abysmal mind you, but there are plenty of more worthwhile features. The 3D graphics are truly excellent. Topological 3D is what MicroProse call it. Although most of the terrain is still flat, the hills and valleys really make the game, because helicopters operate at tree top height. The rivers flow between banks, and the railways go through tunnels in the hills, even on an A500. The A1200 is the preferred Amiga to play on - the game does not have 256 colours but it does use faster machines to the full.

Smooth operator
Everything moves very smoothly. Three different detail levels are available, as well as some fine tuning options like full distance 3D. This option occasionally results in your co-pilot/gunner (CP/G) doing what resembles a Max Headroom impression.

As your situation changes - a new target is acquired, or an incoming missile is detected - the CP/G tells you. When a lot of things happen at once, they just cannot keep up. The CP/G can also be set to activate your jammers or decoys and fire the weapons if you cannot handle the pace.

Talking of weapons, if you are bored of seeing a limited choice, this game has the lot. Cannons (different choppers have different types), Hellfires, Tow 2s, three kinds of Hydra Hellstreak are bundled for a very good measure. When commanding a flight, certain weapons and helicopters are not available - a neat (and demanding) touch. You have to be familiar with every weapon system in case your favourites are not in stock!

Missile with a view
There is a wide variety of opposition to fire weapons at, including several helicopters for some air-to-air combat. The outside views of these are most spectacular, especially when you switch from viewing a target to the view of a missile about to hit it. The view quickly, but smoothly, tracks from the target to the missile, turns 180 degrees and follows the missile.

Two campaign areas are included - Central Europe and Persian Gulf. Four additional areas are planned, but you will have to buy them separately. Needless to say, but the different terrain, targets and weather conditions do make for even more variety. Weather conditions also have an affect on weapons systems - laser-guided missiles like the Hellfire do not do nearly so well in fog or mist.

Playing from the four floppy disks rather than a hard disk (1.5 Mb of memory is needed for hard disk use) is not too bad - loading time is quite long, but the disks are asked for in sequence. Playing from a hard disk is not exactly snappy, either.

In fact, the game takes hours and hours to play properly. It is not just lots of disk activity - quite a few missions in which you get killed have to be erased and replayed just to get a commission, let alone a full 99-mission combat tour before a pilot is retired.

Gunship 2000 has many hooks and lures, which makes it horribly addictive. I have literally played it for days and nights on end, and anticipate playing it for many, many more. It is that special - not perfect, but certainly a game you can lose yourself in for weeks at a time before you even begin to master it.


The key to the game is to keep completing your missions as quickly as possible. You can play Gunship 2000 as an arcade game, by setting training missions - on these, flak and missiles do not harm. However, training missions do not get you any points.
You can either keep playing as a Warrant Officer, on your own in your own chopper, or accept promotion. Personally, I find that flying single missions is more fun than commanding a flight, but true simulation fans will probably appreciate the extra challenge. You cannot jump into the cockpit of the helicopters under your command - you can only give them orders from the map screen.
Finally, you can select to play a campaign. This means commanding a flight over many missions, as a war ebbs and flows. Completing a campaign against elite troops with all the realism settings on will shoot you up the ranks. Maybe if you keep doing that, you will make it to Brigadier General.

Gunship 2000 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Bereits der Vorflieger galt auf allen gängigen Computersystemen als Klassiker des Rotor-Gewerbes - nach überraschend kurzer Konvertierungszeit wird er nun auch am Amiga von seinem Nachfolger überholt!

Während man beim alten "Gunship" mit einem einsamen Apache AH-64 auskommen musste, sind hier noch sechs weitere Helis mit unterschiedlichen Flugeigenschaften vertreten, von denen man bis zu fünf gleichzeitig befehligen darf. Der stark taktisch angelegte Simulation-Flugbetrieb findet dabei auf einer Karte à la "M1 Tank Platoon" statt, an Szenarios stehen Zentraleuropa und der Persische Golf zur Verfügung.

Allerdings muß man sich nach dem (empfehlenswerten) Training erst bei diversen Rettungs-, Aufklärungs- und sonstigen Einzelaufträgen bewähren, ehe man an die richtige Campaign mit hunderten von Missionen rangelassen wird. Erst hier bekommt man dann auch Zugriff auf sämtliche Hubschrauber sowie Aufklärungsdronen zum Ausspähen der vielfältigen Feinde, deren Spektrum von Panzern über Schiffe bis zu Flugkörpern aller Art reicht.

Von den wegen ihre Fülle auch nicht annähernd komplett aufzählbaren Features wurde lediglich die Replay-Funktion der PC-Version dem Speicher-Gott geopfert, ansonsten gibt es immer noch tausenderlei verschiedene Waffen, einstellbaren Realismus (Wind, Sicht, Landung, Flugverhalten), den obligaten Autopiloten, Einsatzbesprechungen und Orden, etliche Außenansichten, darunter den besten Missile-View der Simulationsgeschichte und und und.

Auf die Animation der Rotorblätter muß man am Amiga zwar ebenfalls verzichten, zum Ausgleich haben die Programmierer eine Reihe von kleinen, aber feinen Verbesserungen vorgenommen. Das betrifft einmal die "Intelligenz" der Feinde und computergesteuerten Helis, dazu sind die verschiedenen Cockpits übersichtlicher geworden, die Waffen arbeiten realistischer, und vor allem klappt die Steuerung per Joystick nun ein ganzes Stück besser.

Gut so, denn bei Gunship 2000 wird Wirklichkeitsnähe riesengroß geschrieben!

Für die fliegerische Praxis bedeutet das, daß man hier nicht über platte Vektorgrafik-Landschaften düst, sondern Hügelketten umkurven, tiefe Flüßtäler entlang schleichen oder unter heranjagenden Raketen wegtauchen kann - und da ist man natürlich heilfroh, wenn der Joystick so prompt und exakt anspricht, wie er das tatsächlich tut.

Ein kaum vermeidbarer Nachteil der äußerst detailfreudigen Grafik ist ihre zwar annehmbare, aber nicht gerade raketenartige Geschwindigkeit. Doch erstens ist ein Hubschrauber nun mal kein Düsenjäger, zweitens werden alle schnelleren (Turbo-) Amigas von dem Programm unterstützt. Der Sound gibt weder bei der Musik noch hinsichtlich der Geräusche Anlaß zu irgendwelchen Klagen, was soll man also noch recht viel mehr sagen?

Der Digi-Heli des Jahrhunderts ist jetzt noch umfangreicher, kurzum, einfach besser - und damit am Amiga praktisch konkurrenzlos. Wer hier nicht zuschlägt, hat in Wirklichkeit bloß Angst vorm Fliegen... (mm)

Gunship 2000 logo

Oh no, not another helicopter game? Well, this one is a simulator. And it is great.

It seems to me that the American army should take some basic grammar lessons before they head out into the world to lock horns with an adversary worthy of their superpower status, like Grenada, or Panama, or Iraq maybe. I just find it weird that they insist on speaking not only in bizarre acronyms (LURP, SNAFU, FARP etc.), but also backwards, a bit like Yoda.

Take the gunship circa the year 2000 of the title - it is the as yet unbuilt AH-66A Comanche gunship, which is apparently a concept from the US Army's Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX) program. Should that not be XLH, or ELH if we are going to get it absolutely right? If they cannot even construct sentences properly, it is no wonder they got their butts whupped in Vietnam. But historical speculation aside, let us get on to this gunship helicopter review game.

Gunship 2000 is the follow-up to MicroProse's highly successful Gunship, and this time around it has got the inevitable 'Persian Gulf' scenario that has become a standard inclusion in war games since Hussein (who is sane? Not you Saddam, that is for sure, matey) got the idea of increasing his countries' beachfront hotel potential. You may have heard about it on the news some time ago.

To satisfy the techno-lust of all you stat-heads, there is a range of seven helicopters to choose from, from a tiny observation 'Loach' to old favourites like the AH-64 Apache and the AH-1W SuperCobra gunships, right up to the Comanche, with its fly-by-wire and Stealth technology. On some of the early missions, you are given a Super Cobra as a default setting, which may have been THE thing to be seen killing people in about twenty years ago, but is quite frankly a bit passé these days. Thankfully, you can strap into an Apache instead, whose bigger payload effectively means you can carry an extra weapons system. This is always a very Good Thing.

As with most simulations, you are confronted by a pretty massive manual and it is obvious from this that it is not one of those games that you can just bung into your Amiga and get going. Of the 166 pages you can discount about 80-odd straight away, as they are packed with bedtime reading about the history of the helicopter, combat tactics, details of ground targets and the like.

Most of it is pretty interesting, and lots of the facts and figures turn out to be helpful for the game, especially the maximum ranges of all the weapons systems used. There is something massively satisfying about launching a Stinger missile at a gun emplacement when you smugly know that you are out of range of his fire. Blast a few triple-A batteries in this way and, believe me, life is sweet.

Being more interested in getting off the ground, it is great to see that the game comes with a little summary card, which you can plonk on the top of your Amiga and refer to. This sort of thing is essential for games requiring twenty odd keys to play properly, and it is reassuring that the manual is easy to read and well laid out, an essential feature for a game of such complexity. Hooray!

There is a tutorial section to get you up and running, and (double hooray) the game actually makes use of the second fire button that the Amiga is perfectly capable supporting but the programmers seem incapable of using.

Weapons, weapons, weapons - there is enough choice here to make even Mother Teresa drool at the destructive possibilities. Okay, so the end result is the same, but what a clever and diverse range of stuff you can pick from. Cannons, rattling guns, chain guns, sidewinders, anti-tank, anti-plane, fire-and-forget infra-red-guided, line-of-sight wire-guided, and the list goes on. In Rambo Heaven, gunship pilots must rank as saints. The US Government spends more on weaponry R&D than most countries have s a national budget, and Gunship 2000 is at great pains to replicate their efforts in as much detail as possible.

The game features a huge front end before you even get to flying, although MicroProse seem to have realised this and carved off the intro sequence into a separate file, so once you have seen it, you can skip it straight away. Even so, you still have to sit through a good few lovely pictures before you finally get to fly, and here lies the biggest problems in the game.

Normally I play games that I have got to review on an expanded Amiga 500 Plus, which is the machine that a large proportion of you (our readers) have. This way, if problems of speed or disk swapping crop up, I will notice them. This time, however, I was forced to make an exception, and chucked the whole game onto the office hard disk - otherwise I would still be swapping disks now.

To get the most out of this game, you have either got to be so good that you never actually get killed (as the biggest swapping binges occur when you have to restart) or have a hard disk (which, let us face it, is out of the reaches of most people's budget) or an extra floppy drive.

So anyway, that is my biggest gripe over with, so let us go onto the game.

Enough choice to make Mother Teresa drool

The missions are doled out at random, so you could find yourself being briefed in the middle of the desert, or on a ship, or in a field somewhere, being ordered to destroy bases or convoys or anything really, and the fun has not even started yet. Choosing your helicopter - now that is a laugh. All the best ones are kept out of the hands of learners, so you have got to notch up enough successful missions to get your hands on the eponymous Gunship 2000.

You arm your chopper based on the mission briefing: Hellfires against tanks unguided Hydras against less-armoured-targets, and Sidwinders or Sidearms to take out other helicopters. As well as these multi-purpose 'tools' with which you practice your 'art', there are specialised weapons such as Penguin anti-ship missiles, which, with each weapon weighing in at a hefty 480 kilos each, are a lot more effective at messing up ships than an equal amount of chocolate biscuits or flightless birds.

Once you are loaded up and fuelled there is no reason not to get up in the air and after numerous pictures of mean-looking guys and lovingly-rendered frames of machines of mass destruction, you are finally onto the flying. The first thing to notice about this is that it does not fly like a plane - an obvious point maybe, but an important one.

Forward on the joystick makes you move forward, rather than dive, and back slows you down and then moves you backwards instead of climbing. You use the collective (posh word for a throttle) to lose or gain altitude, so you can climb while tilting at all sorts of awkward angles.

When you move from hovering to forward flight you need to increase the collective to maintain lift, which can be tricky at first, but there is the option of forsaking reality and choosing a 'learner' mode where this does not happen. G2000 is a bit like F1GP in that most options can be set on automatic so, as you get better, you can take over the responsibilities of avoiding hills, dropping missile decoys and landing without just heading downwards and praying, and can increase the game's complexity at your own speed.

At first I thought the controls seemed quite sluggish, but then I read that this is how a chopper handles, and not being in a position to challenge this statement, we will have to take their word for it. Another comment I can well believe is that hiding behind trees is far better than flying around in the wild blue yonder. Helicopters are not the toughest or the fastest machines around, and having .50 calibre triple-A whizzing through your rotors won't do them any good at all.

The idea is to stay as low as possible, and to help the learners there is an automatic system that alters your altitude to hug the ground. Another reason that is as good as any to fly low is to get the most out of the yummy ground details, as it is always worth checking out a tank or SAM site before you reduce it to its component molecules.

Some of the choppers have mast-mounted sights, sort of periscope-attachments above the rotors, which allow you to peek over hill crests without exposing your craft to ground fire. The terrain is such a major feature of helicopter warfare (apparently) that it seems logical that more thought has been put into it in this game.

Gone is the flat green field with a few buildings and trees, in it is the flashily named Topograhical 3D Graphics system which displays not only mountains, but also river valleys and other depression features. It all means that there is plenty to hide behind, but also plenty to smash into as well, so contour flying on manual requires almost constant collective control.

As with most MicroProse games, you can look from all kinds of views: trailing your 'copter, looking from the target back towards you, or even from behind missiles and even though all the screen shots here look a bit crappy (hence this hugely text-heavy and unusually to the point review) it all looks fantastic while you are playing at it. Honest.

The trouble with flight games, or any vector graphics stuff, is they only ever look good in motion, and appear hideously dull when you pick out still shots from the action. So take our word for it that the game is smooth and fast even on the standard Amiga, alright?

On to summing-up time, and I have no other route open for me but to say that this is a hugely enjoyable way to spend vast amounts of time. The flying around is fun, and the blasting away at enemies is even better. Rather than flying till you start dying, the game has a gradual destruction system, so various things stop working as they are damaged, and should you get really shot up, you have to fight the controls to keep your battered crate on course. Just like the real thing. I would imagine.

Gunship 2000 logo

Keeping death off the roads and putting it back in the skies, where it's so much more fun, is Microprose's formidable flight sim. Steve Prizeman, of the CU Air Cavalry, took it into the wild blue yonder.

What does 'torque' mean to you? How about 'collective cyclic'? 'Blade stall and air compressibility'? If your response is 'Eh?', the chances are you're not familiar with the principles of helicopter flight. Don't worry, in Gunship 2000 the basics can soon be grasped, and even a novice at 'copter flight sims can get his whirlybird airborne.

The ease is not because Microprose have skimped on realism, on the contrary the game diligently endeavours to recreate the feel of helicopter flight. Recognising that many users of the game will be more familiar with fixed-wing flight sims, the hefty manual provided includes a hefty 30-page section on the theory and practice of flying rotary-wing aircraft. Don't be deterred by the catching opening line ('Flying a helicopter is a lesson in the physics of vectors...'), the copters prove easier to handle than the over-powered jets featured in most flight sims.

If you don't want to fly by the seat of your pants, handling all that elements, and the physics of vectors can throw at you, Gunship 2000 allows you to switch on certain in-game helps. For instance, obstacles on the terrain (hills!) may be automatically avoided, wind can be switched off, clear visibility can be guaranteed, and the altitude of the copter can be separated from pitch, roll, and airspeed. If you like delegating, there is an autopilot, and control of the copter's weapon systems and counter-measures (chaff and flares) may be passed to the computer which takes the role of your co-pilot/gunner. Even the quality of the enemy forces you'll be up against is adjustable, ranging from poor to elite.

But what do you do in the game? A variety of missions, set either in Central Europe or the Persian Gulf, are available. As you might expect, most propel you into combat: Point Attack (go to a set target and kill it) or Search & Destroy (roam around, find something, then kill it) etc. What distinguishes Gunship 2000 from most flight sims is that this is a multi-copter game.

Once the player's character has risen through the ranks from Warrant Officer Candidate to Second Lieutenant ('That's loo-tenant to you, boy!') a whole five-helicopter flight may be brought under his command. More sophisticated operations then become available: Reconnaissance, Tactical Support (transporting troops, supplies, and wounded), Deep Strike, and Search & Rescue. The flight may even be split into two units and sent to different targets.

In recognition of the number of units in a flight, and the variety of tasks required of them, seven different helicopters may be used. In addition to the AH-64A Apache Gunships which gave the game (and its predecessor) its name, Longbow Apaches, Supercobras, Comanches, Kiowas, Blackhawks and Defenders are also available. Their weaponry, ranging from chain guns to laser-guided and radar-homing missiles, ensures that you'll not be flying some of the fastest, most agile machines around, you'll also have the deadliest.

In the geopolitical world of Gunship 2000, the (former) Soviet Union constitutes the probable source of opposition for Central European missions, showing perhaps that Cold War or no Cold War the ex-Soviets are doomed to be the bad guys in strategy games for years to come.

They may have to queue for rationed cabbage, but they're certainly no push-over in the skies; watch out for Hind-E and Havoc gunships, not to mention the new Hokum, purpose-built for anti-helicopter combat. In the Persian Gulf, no prizes for guessing that the Iraqis are the main threat, so there is plenty of opportunity to play Saddam-busters.

Multi-copter missions are not compulsory, however, so if you prefer to go it alone, single helicopter missions (and training exercises) may still be selected, Your ultimate objective (if the thrill of flying isn't enough) is to reach the rank of Brigadier General by your 99nth mission. If you don't get such a distinction you can still have a respected retirement as an instructor, passing on your skills to the young bloods who will follow you. Intrepid pilots may even pick up Purple Hearts and the Congressional Medal of Honour for their efforts.

Graphically, Gunship 2000 shares one common feature with most flight sims: however good the intentions behind it, the landscape just doesn't look realistic. The degree of detail can be changed, but still never convinces. But, like I said, this seems to be par of the course with flight sims, and Gunship shouldn't be penalised on that count.

More important is the way the movement of the copter relates to the simulated ground beneath it - and that is conveyed well. External views may be take from behind the copter, following a flight of a missile, or looking (anxiously) from the position of the target you're firing at. The inter-flight screens are well drawn, and often partly animated. It's nice to know a sense of humour has been included also - click on the VDU in Brigade Headquarters a few times, and see what is occupying the officer's attention.

Gunship 2000 is, in short, a thorough game which will test your tactical combat skills as well as your flying ability.


Do you know who we have to thank for the helicopter - Leonardo da Vinci! Not content with painting the Mona Lisa and inventing every other machine in history, da Vinci designed a rotary-wing aircraft in the late 15th century. Working models were produced, but the real thing never got off the ground- just as well, if the Borgias or the Medici had got their hands on helicopter gunships we'd be all be speaking Italian today!

Ponton D'Amecourt, a Frenchman, invented a steam-powered helicopter in 1862. Although it never flew, it shuddered sufficiently to show that the basic idea was sound enough to work if the problem of finding an adequate power supply to lift such a craft could be overcome.

In 1907, following the Wright brothers' initiation of fixed-wing manned flight, and the invention of the internal combustion engine, Paul Cornu (also French) invented the first working helicopter. He did not fly far, or high, but what was important was that it flew!

In 1936, the Focke-Achgelis Fa61, designed by Dr Heinrich Karl Johann Focke, took flight as the first helicopter suitable for practical uses.

Flying for the first time in 1940, Anton Flettner's F1 282 Kolibri is recognised as the first military helicopter. From 1942 it was being launched from German warships, and later versions were employed in counter-measures against submarines.

Also in 1942, in America, Igor Sikorsky's XR-4 went into service with the US Army. Employed for scouting, delivery, and anti-submarine uses, this type of helicopter became the first to conduct a search and rescue mission - going behind Japanese lines in Burma in 1944 to rescue crew and passengers from a downed aircraft. By the end of the Second World War, over 400 Sikorskys, of various designs, were being used by Britain and American forces.

Eigentlich: Gunship 1200

Gunship 2000 AGA logo AGA A1200 Speziell Amiga Joker Hit

Wenn eines der besten Amigaspiele überhaupt nach fast anderthalb Jahren endlich den Fähigkeiten eines A1200 bzw. CD32 angeglichen wird, ist das schon einen neuen Komplettest wert - Start frei für den Edelflugi!

Am CD32 wird der MicroProse-Heli erst in einigen Wochen abheben, hier müsst Ihr Euch mit den ersten Endrücken unserer Vorabversion begnügen. Die AGA-Fassung rotiert zwar schon demnächst in den Geschäften, doch ist seit dem Januar 1993 viel Wasser die Isar hinabgelaufen, haken wir zunächst also nochmals Grundsätzliches ab:

Sieben Hubschrauber (darunter natürlich auch der klassische Apache AH-64 des nicht minder klassischen Vorfliegers "Gunship") sollen in Trainings- und Einzelmissionen die Einsatzgebiete Persischer Golf und Zentraleuropa von vorgegebenen Primär- bzw. Sekundärzielen säubern. Falls der Pilot trotz des knapp gesteckten Zeitlimits den Feind nebenbei noch zusätzlich schwächen kann, schlägt sich das bei der Punktewertung und eventuellen Ordensvergabe natürlich nieder.

Hat man erst eine gewisse Anzahl von Aufträgen erfolgreich absolviert, darf das Kommando über ein ganzes Hubschraubergeschwäder übernommen werden, wobei bis zu vier weitere Helis befehligt und beobachtet werden können. Außerdem gibt's Spezialkommandos wie Aufklärung, Patrouille etc. sowie Kampagnen aus zahllosen Einzeleinsätzen: hier beeinflußt der Erfolg jeder Mission die Verfügbarkeit von Mensch und Material in der nächsten.

Die Wahl der Waffen ist eine Selbstverständlichkeit, ebenso Standardfeatures wie Feindintelligenz, wechselndes Flugverhalten und Wetter oder die verschiedenen Perspektiven, unter denen das Geschehen betrachtet werden kann. Daran hat sich freilich mit der neuen Version nichts geändert, wie die Retuschen überhaupt recht dezent ausgefallen sind: Die Zwischengrafiken zeigen neuerdings volle 256 Farben, und die 3D-Vektorlandschaften sind noch einen Tick detailreicher geworden, als sie es anno Amiga 500 schon waren.

Der Sound ist kernig wie eh und je, und die Steuerung via Analog-Stick sehr präzise, während man mit einem Digitalknüppel im Cockpit ein wenig mit dem Handlung zu Kämpfen hat. Doch das war seinerzeit ja auch nicht anders, genau wie sich das Teil schon bei der Erstveröffentlichung auch ohne Turbokarte angenehm flott gespielt hat.

Grafik, Sound und Spielbarkeit der CD-Version schienen uns identisch zu werden, was jedoch mit der dem dicken und wichtigen Handbuch beiliegenden Tastaturschablone geschieht, stand bei Redaktionsschluß noch nicht fest - die Belegung des Joypads war jedenfalls nicht ganz ideal geraten, soll bis zur Veröffentlichung aber noch überarbeitet werden.

Fest stand und steht indessen, daß das neue 1200er-Gunship in puncto Spielspaß trotz der relativ dezenten Überarbeitung immer noch ganz vorne mitfliegt. Auch wenn sich Besitzer des Urmodells die Investition eigentlich sparen können... (mic)

Gunship 2000 CD32 logo CD32 Amiga Computing Silver Award

While the in-game presentation of Microprose's latest cannot possibly hope to see off the big boys in the graphics stakes, when it comes to out and out gameplay, the all important ingredient that stands head and shoulders above swanky images, even Silicon Graphics would start to sweat. This title is a seriously addictive and challenging slice of strategic action.

Let's get one fact clear - this version of the classic A500 game is hardly different to the original. It's a little faster and smoother but not bigger. The voice samples are crisper and a highly attractive introduction animation has been stuck on the front end to somehow weakly qualify it as a CD title.

Does it matter though? Not even slightly - this has and always will be one of the best releases for the Amiga range, and after the initial disappointment of nothing particularly new on the horizon, the intense gameplay soon makes you forget any regrets.

After the intro has flashed its ray-traced delights, the player is presented with a control room where they can either take part in training missions or press ahead with the two theatres of war available - Central Europe or the Persian Gulf. Choose a pilot and then it's into the thick of the action. One mission briefing later and you're out on the pad waiting for take-off.

Each campaign is split into dozens of missions. Destroying enemy platoons, wiping out runways, taking out oil refineries, radar stations and scud sites are the main staple diet of the warmongering helicopter pilot, and with a large array of weaponry on offer life is made a little easier for yourself but not the enemy.

The basic principle behind Gunship 2000 is to ascend the ranks and gain medals galore. Each mission has two goals - the primary and the secondary. It's not strictly necessary to do the second but, if you want to look like a viable candidate for promotion, completing both guarantees a commendation and firm pat on the back. Earn enough accolades and you'll be put in charge of up to give helicopters per mission - a worthy reward for hard work in the line of duty.

The graphics obviously play a large part in convincing players to suspect their disbelief and be absorbed into the scenario. While Gunship may not look like TFX, the polygon graphics depicting valleys, mountain, roads and trees are effective and move smoothly enough to be convincing.

The differing views of your craft, and the option to follow a launched missile directly from behind and see it impact with its doomed target works well, but it would have aided realism to see some kind of shadow cast by the airborne vehicles.

The sounds are excellent with clear samples of missile warnings and the explosions are accompanied by healthy noises of destruction.

As the first flight simulation released on the CD32, this is hardly a bold step forward for CD-ROM and how it is perceived by the game playing public, but as a tough, strategic helicopter title, this is as good as it gets on the Amiga and is well worth spending many hours airborne playing it.


Gunship 2000 CD32 logo CD32 Amiga Format Gold

MicroProse 0454 326532 * £29.99

Helicopters Big helicopters. That is what these gunships are. And powerful they are too. This is not only for the blow-'em-to-bits folk, for there is also heaps of techie detail and missions galore. It looks great too, particular new it is in 256 colours.

Add to that some pretty rendered animation sequences and the fact that it is six quid cheaper than when it was released on floppy. By jove, that is fair play.

Gunship 2000 CD32 logo CD32 Amiga Joker Hit

Aller guten Dinge sind drei: Nachdem MicroProse seinen aufgebohrten Heli-Klassiker bereits auf normalen und AGA-Amigas abheben ließ, kommen jetzt auch die Besitzer eines CD-Hangars in diesen Genuß!

Auf der Silberscheibe befinden sich im wesentlichen das Programm der 1200er Version: Mit einem der sieben anwählbaren Kampfhubschrauber (Kiowa, Blackhawk, Apache AH-64, etc.) muß man in knallharten Trainings- und Einzelmissionen vorgegebene Primär- und Sekundärziele in Zentraleuropa oder am Persischen Gold ausschalten.

Vor jedem Einsatz dürfen die Helis frisch bewaffnet werden, wofür nur das Feinste Explosiv genug ist. Denn bei den stationären Angriffsobjekten handelt es sich meist um das Hauptquartier oder die Radaranlagen des Gegners, während die beweglichen Ziele z.B. aus Panzerverbänden bestehen, deren Position auf der Landkarte natürlich nur ungefähr bekannt ist. Dazu ergeben sich unterwegs noch reichlich Gelegenheiten zum Schießen feuriger Bekanntschaften, die sich ebenfalls positiv auf die Lage an der Punkte-, Ordens- und Beförderungsfront auswirken.

Der Motivationssteigerung dient neben dem gebotenen Jagdwild auch das knapp bemessene Zeitlimit von (in der Regel) 15 Minuten pro Mission, dessen Überschreitung mit rigorosen Punktabzügen bestraft wird. Für Piloten mit Organisationstalent gedacht sind die Gruppeneinsätze, denn hier dürfen sie bis zu vier Digi-Kollegen bewaffnen und via Sprechfunk auch durch Spezialaufträge kommandieren.

Schließlich gibt es noch den Campaign-Modus, wo die Dauer des Feldzugs sowie Art und Anzahl der Missionen als Maßstab für den Erfolg gelten. Aber auch an Flugnovizen wurde gedacht, weshalb sich hier tausenderlei Sachen individuell einstellen lassen: die Intelligenz der Feinde, das Flugverhalten der eigenen Maschine, die Wetterbedingungen, die (neun) Außernansichten und etliches mehr.

Grafisch entspricht die CD-Fassung Pixel für Pixel der 256farbigen 1200er-Version, die 3D-Polygonlandschaft ist also recht detailreich, und die Zwischenbilder sind hübsch. Akustisch gibt es außer den bereits bekannten Sound-FX nun allerdings deutlich bessere Musik direct von der Schillerscheibe. Dafür macht hier die Steuerung via Joypad einige Probleme: Präzise Manöver werden durch die ausufernde Belegung von Buttons und Steuerkreuz zur Glückssache, und das Einhalten einer bestimmte Flughöhe ist in der Praxis fast unmöglich.

Zum Glück unterstützt das Programm aber auch den Joystick und eine (externe) Tastatur, womit dann plötzlich wieder alles wunderbar klappt. Der letzte Kritikpunkt betrifft das gewaltig abgespeckte Handbuch, das bloß noch das Nötigste enthält - vor allem die technischen Infos zu Freund und Feind sind spurlos verschwunden...

Geblieben ist indessen die Faszination dieser Flugsimulation, die auch und gerade in der CD-Version einzigartige Erlebnisse über den Digi-Wolken garantiert - vorausgesetzt, man nimmt ein Keyboard mit an Bord. (mic)

Gunship 2000 CD32 logo CD32

Thokka, thokka thokka - heads up, here comes Charlie.

"Uh looks extremely dull to me," commented Stuart as he paused to watch the game before slinking off to one of his numerous dental appointments, and he was in a certain sense, completely right.

Gunship 2000 can look dull, especially compared to cutesie platform games, tedious shoot-em-ups and other so-called 'entertainment'. That is because the writers have taken their time to build in playability and realism rather than working on amusing sprites that tap their toes and wave at you. Also vector graphics always look dull when static, because they are made to be seen in motion.

What does not look at all dull in this CD32 version of the Amiga game (AP28, 85%) is the incredible intro sequence, featuring a team of three attack helicopters and skip-loads of flashy rendered graphics, and displayed in a small portion of its glory here. However, a flashy intro does not make a jot of difference to a game (look at Microcosm), so I will say a quick thanks to MicroProse while at the same time adding nothing to the end mark.

We are in familiar flight sim territory here, even down to the tried and tested method of giving you a primary and secondary mission to complete. Randomly placing the attack sites on the terrain makes full use of the gorgeously crafted landscapes and also stops you getting bored of endlessly flying the same missions. Unlike many flight sims, the ground goes down into valleys as well as up into hills, which lets you contour fly your way to a target and thus avoid ground fire.

Contour fly your way to a target

It all runs incredibly fast, so much so that the option to reduce detail levels seems a tad superfluous. Ground details and exterior views of your chopper are brilliant, and once the missiles and cannon fire start flying, it all looks rather fab and groovy. There is a campaign structure to the game, with your pilot details being stored on the none-volatile internal memory, and if you compare this to flight sims on other consoles, you can see straight off that it completely stuffs the opposition.

Compare it to the standard Amiga version though, and it has got both plus and minus points. The main reason I marked the original down was that tedious disk swapping really hacked into my enjoyment of the game, but obviously that is not a problem any more, so hoorah for that. The sound has noticeably beefed up, with only mildly annoying music and a co-pilot voice that warns you of all incoming fire and nearby targets.

This version also runs faster, and even when you use the 'accelerate time' option to get into action, the effect's more of flowing rather than jumping ahead. Finally, the controller is used to maximum effect, but after a couple of hours I found mself wishing someone would bring out a bigger, comfortable one soon. The top buttons cycle through the cockpit displays and change way-points whereas the other buttons give you weapon choice, target choice, auto-hover and a fire button at your fingertips. At last - a CD32 game that makes use of all those buttons!

The down side is that there still are not enough keys for all the options. Accessing the map screen is simple enough - you just press pause twice, but the menu options reduce the usability of the exterior views to nil. In the Amiga version, it took only a single key stroke to get a external view or hitch a ride on an outgoing missile. In this version, you have got to fire a missile, then pause the game, go down a menu to 'view', select 'missile' then exit to return to the game, which is so faffy and intrusive it sort of spoils the effect. Shame, that.

Gunship 2000 CD32 logo CD32 CU Super Star


Gunship 2000 is regarded by many as one of the best Amiga flight simulators, if not actually the best. The one thing it had above all others was a realistic, undulating terrain. Instead of taking a flat green landscape and just adding the odd pyramid, Gunship 2000 has a true terrain that you can properly interact with, hugging the hills, following valleys and generally flying the game the way it was meant to be flown. Coming from MicroProse, it goes without saying that the game is realistic, and a superb simulation, but Gunship 2000 has much, much more than your normal flight simulator.

Now it is available for the CD32, and boy are you lucky CD owners in for a treat. MicroProse have taken the Amiga version and enhanced it beyond all expectations. For a start there is the wonderful intro sequence, where an AH-64A Apache chopper flies low over a lake and then goes into battle along a valley. There is improved sound and music. There is the 256 colour graphics. There is increased speed and even a much smoother update.

Best of all, though, are the controls. On Amiga, Gunship 2000 used all sorts of key commands to do everything. On CD32, only the important functions are kept on the joypad, with all weapons, power settings and navigation controls at your fingertips. Secondary actions, such as changing your view of the game and examining the map, are brought up on a menu when the game is paused. If you thought a flight simulator could not work on a console, then think again.

Gunship 2000 deserves to be one of the big CD32 sellers. It has got stacks of action, plenty of visuals, more explosions than you actually need and you can machine gun camels. What more do you need?