Novalogic has been an outsider for years now. When almost every other game developer used polygons to build a 3D world, Novalogic continued with their Voxel Space engine. The largest problem was that all the 3D accelerator cards were useless with those Voxel Pixels. But for Comanche 4, Novalogic finally dropped it and went for the standard way of polygons.
There are 6 campaigns. Now, campaign is a big word. It’s just a collection of missions without relation or story between them. In fact, you can’t ‘fail’ a mission and continue. You’ll have to try and try again until you succeed to go to the next mission and the difficulty level is rather high, even with the level set to easy. That’s one way to extend the playtime of a game of course.
In general, there are two types of missions : destroy and defend. In both cases, they are almost all Rambo missions : you are on your own against a complete army of terrorists. The result is that especially the defend and protect missions become difficult as you need to attack over a dozen units, both land, air and sea, coming from various directions, all heading for the fragile unit, e.g. a minister in a limo, an explosives expert or a transport helicopter which you have to protect. The missions are completely scripted, so there is no random event that might surprise you the next time you play the mission.
Luckily the controls are very simple. It’s almost as easy as a normal FPS. You don’t have to learn all sorts of weapon systems, you don’t have to master the flight characteristics as in a real flight sim. No, you just install the game, configure the controls and up you go. The altitude of your chopper is controlled by 3 buttons (low, medium and high altitude) and when you’re not flying too fast, the altitude follows the height of the landscape. So you don’t have to fiddle with the collective all the time to keep your helicopter close to the ground. But watch out for the trees. In Comanche 4, the trees appear to be made out of concrete. At medium altitude, the rotor is most of the time just below the treetops. In real life you would expect that in case of a contact between those two, the rotor will cut off the top of the tree. In the game however, the tree survives and your rotor receives heavy damage.
You have 4 weapons : gun, rockets, Stingers and Hellfires. If that isn’t enough, you can sometimes call in the artillery and repair and rearm during the mission at a FARP (Forward Arming and Refueling Point). And take my word for it, you’ll going to need those FARP’s.
Graphics. This is where Comanche 4 excells. At low level, the rotors create a circular rippling on water or blow away the dust over land. The explosions are beautiful to watch so it’s a good thing that there are so many targets to destroy. When you attack a ship, the explosion will lift it a little out of the water and then begins to sink very realistic. To admire all this, there are three viewpoints : cockpit, 1st person and 3rd person.
Sound. Nothing special here. The radio chatter is nice. Other things could be better : the first time when the rotor of my helicopter made contact with a treetop, I thought that it was gunfire.
Gameplay. The game offers enough action, but you never feel that you’re in an attack helicopter. First of all because it feels like a normal FPS, but also the surroundings. You start with the rank of Warrant Officer. During the missions you gain experience, achieve your mission goals and score points. But nothing happens when you get promoted. And no decorations either. You can check your pilots status but that’s it. And because the missions don’t reveal some story, there is nothing to discover. Just play mission after mission, destroy the enemy and admire the explosions.
Comanche 4 is not a flight simulator. It’s a FPS with the added feature that you are in a helicopter. It has the same action and the same large number of enemies as a FPS. If you want some quick action, Comanche 4 is your game.