previews\ Aug 26, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Fair Strike - PC - Preview 2

In recent years, flight sim games have been few and far between.  Granted, there have been Microsoft’s Flight Sim titles and a few other notables, but the well has been quite dry for many a flight sim fans.  An even more neglected sub-genre within flight sims are helicopter simulations.  Buka is planning on changing that with the release of Fair Strike this December.  Fair Strike is being billed as an “action/simulator”, meaning the game will feature an emphasis on action elements as opposed to being a straightforward, meticulous simulation.  So far, the alpha version features varied level design, authentic helicopters, and adaptable controls that fit into your favored gameplay style.  Helicopter fans, take note: Fair Strike could be one to look out for.


The storyline is fairly simple, yet sufficient.  You’re a member of a united multinational anti-terrorist organization that battles terrorists using six different helicopter models.  You run campaigns in four different locales (the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, South-East Asia, and the Middle East) as you attempt to rid the world of terrorism.


True, the story may sound a bit contrived, but that’s not the point.  How does the game play?  The game plays quite well, in fact.  While only in Alpha stages, the gameplay is fun and engaging.  As I said earlier, the game is an action/simulator, meaning that while the game will feature realistic controls and physics, some of the more tedious elements associated with flight sims (like long missions, slow action and the necessity for time-acceleration) have been removed, adding up to more action and shorter missions.  The helicopter models each handle realistically and have their own advantages and disadvantages.  The levels are nicely varied, with diverse objectives and various enemy units, like tanks, enemy bunkers, and soldiers with rocket launchers trying to take you down.  You run a bunch of different types of missions, ranging from reconnaissance missions to escort missions to “simply blow up as many enemy units as possible” missions.  The six helicopters include five real-life helicopters (like the AH-64A Apache and the PAH-2 Tiger) and one concept helicopter, the Ka-58 Black Ghost.


The most unique aspect of the gameplay is the adaptable controls.  These controls can be changed to suit your preferences.  The arcade control mode requires fewer buttons on the keyboard and feels a bit like playing a first-person shooter in a helicopter.  The simulation control mode, on the other hand, adds quite a few more options to the equation, and allows for more immersion and a more realistic feel to the game.  The game can be played comfortably with either scheme; the choice is up the gamer.  The game also features several different views: first person (which only shows the HUD without the cockpit), the cockpit, and third-person view.


The graphics also look quite well, at this point.  The realistic helicopter models look remarkably well, with dynamic lighting and shadow effects. The environments, while a little barren, do feature some nice terrain details.  Aside from a few shadow bugs and some weak special effects, the graphics are already looking pretty good.


The sound is shaping up quite nicely.  The game features a nice soundtrack that sounds a lot like the score out of a Tom Clancy movie, which is quite fitting.  The sound effects also sound very clean and crisp, save for a few buggy instances of cutting out.


Fair Strike nicely mixes action elements with meticulous simulation gameplay, making for an adaptable sim that anyone from casual action fans to hardcore simulation fans can enjoy.  Keep your eyes to the skies, Fair Strike hits this Christmas.

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