For most people, having the opportunity to pilot a military attack helicopter is a farfetched dream. The skills required for the job almost never align with the actual opportunity to do so, however, Nukklear's latest action flight simulator, Comanche might just be a solution for anyone wanting to try their hands at flying a helicopter.
Comanche is the latest in a long line of helicopter games, and it aims to capture a world of advanced aerial warfare through the piloting of futuristic helicopters. The title tasks you with testing your skills and adapting to high-pressure scenarios in either single-player or multiplayer, where your foes will range from boats, soldiers and even enemy helicopters. It all may seem quite simple but, piloting a bird with as much advanced technology as a Comanche requires a fair degree of talent. Needless to say, there's quite a steep learning curve.
To begin with, Comanche will task you with learning to fly. This portion is relatively self-explanatory, especially if you've ever attempted to fly a helicopter in any other video game. The second area where it asks you to couple shooting with flying is where the pressure really piles on. It may seem simple but attempting to control an aircraft through tight valleys whilst simultaneously raining hellfire on targets hundreds of metres away is actually very difficult. Comanche has the sort of control scheme where those who are familiar with the series will thrive, whereas everyone else will be left on the ground begging for some basic flight lessons.
Comanche itself is split into two areas: single and multiplayer. The single-player experience is where new pilots go to train and learn the ways of the wind before heading into the online mode. This is genuinely a great place to figure out the mechanics of the game, but the storyline, on the other hand, is not great at all, in fact, it's probably best to describe it as drab.
Currently, with the title being in early access, you can play one mission, and it's split into five chapters. It starts with some basic military storyline of a unit gone missing before chaos breaks out and you're blowing up enemies left, right and centre. If the random violence isn't enough, the missions are basically a rinse and repeat of blow-up boats, people and helicopters, then hack a door and then move onto the next area and do it all again.
To make the gameplay a little bit more interesting, there is a unique feature: a Drone. Here you can essentially pilot a tiny quadcopter, and it's equipped with tiny guns and capable of moving through smaller sections. This little blighter will be your tool for the many, and we mean many times you're asked to hack something - other than this, it basically has no use. As a point of reference, hacking is not a minigame either, it's simply a button-hold, and you get to do it a lot. Still, as we mentioned earlier, the single-player is just for learning the ropes and really isn't the attraction here. That instead lies in the multiplayer.
Built as a four vs four team-based game, Comanche's multiplayer currently has two modes, those being Blackbox and Infiltration. Blackbox is essentially kill confirmed and sees teams slug it out against one another, then being asked to pick up boxes dropped by enemies or allies to gain or deny points. Infiltration, on the other hand, is a search and destroy game type that asks teams to attack or defend objectives from one another.
The multiplayer generally feels much better than the single-player as the game gives you maximum control over your helicopter here. Furthermore, the maps are more detailed and feature more traversable terrain, making for a mode that is substantially freer and more open with regards to the way you pilot your bird. The issues arise when you look to find a game or a team of players to compete against as matches are few and far between, and the ones you do encounter will likely not feature full lobbies.
As a method of progression and to add further to the multiplayer experience, Comanche currently offers five helicopters to unlock and pilot. Each has its own radical name and comes with some unique quirk that separates it from the others. For example, the Rhino can charge enemies with its stronger body and the Ghost can use invisibility, hiding from danger for a short period of time. Having these unlockable vehicles does provide a sense of progression to things.
In retrospect, if you're looking for a fun, helicopter simulator combat game, with genuinely solid mechanics (provided you can make it through the difficulty curve) then Comanche will fill that void, at least temporarily. The control system coupled with some interesting combat mechanics makes for a decent futuristic helicopter experience. However, the title is let down by a dull campaign and a poor multiplayer scene, to the extent that after an hour or so, it feels like you've seen everything it has to offer.