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Comanche [old reviews found]

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Joined: 15 Mar 2005
Posts: 9245
Location: ROTFLMAO in Belgium.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 3:36 pm     Post subject: Comanche [old reviews found] Reply with quote

A review I wrote some time ago for a defunct French AW site, Thought I could post those ol'things here.

Comanche : Maximum Overkill

Comanche, the first one of several, Novalogic decided to create a game engine, VOXEL, who was capable of rendering life terrain and realistic looking objects, no other polygon game engine from that time could match that VOXEL engine. It was a revelation. Really, we are talking 1992, could run on a 386 CPU with 4 MB ram, yes 4 MB. It needed approx 500 Kb base memory, and some 3 MB XMS. No EMS allowed, you had to disable the EMS driver, in those days EMM386 or QEMM. Yep, those were the days. Astoning VGA graphics, full SB support, music and sound. Joystick support with good calibration. It looked really neat on a 13 or 14" monitor, great graphics, good colors.

The gameplay is great, it is not based on a campaign as in Gunship, but has about 70 missions divided into some episodes. Mainly search and destroy, also implemented is a full training section. You have to learn how to handle this chopter, the LHX AH64 Comanche, a light attack heli. The armement varies from a Vulcan cannon to hellfires, rockets and sidewinders. Each one with their own specifications. You are limited in fuel, you can't take too long to accomplish a mission.

The hellfires are those from the first generation, you have to keep your target locked with your laservisor. But you can switch targets if neccesary, the missile follows the laser beam. Also you can fire the hellfires with some interval to destroy several grouped targets, after a hit swith target to get the next one destroyed by a previously released missile, never seen before 1992.
The sidewinders are the 'fire and forget' type, lock, fire and they will take the shortest way to the target, no need to keep the target locked. Disadvantage: the target - mostly a enemy heli - can dive and hide behind terrain obstacles, causing your missile to get lost. That tric you can apply yourself when locked by a missile.
The cannon is only effective at short range, but you can destroy anything with it, from light adversary heli, hokum heli's, even armoured vehicles if you get enough time to put the neccesary rounds in it. Freely movable in a short angle it is a usefull armement, you will need it several times to be able to accomplish some missions.
The rockets are a pain in the ass, unguided, armour piercing and short range. Hard to learn hitting a target, even the static ones. To destroy a moving armoured vehicle you need to fire salvo after salvo, and even then you need luck to place enough hits to achieve your goal. The rockets are mainly usefull against static targets, oil tanks , tents and sheds.

On several missions you will get a wingmen, you can use all his weaponry on your selected targets. Also sometimes they grant you the use of artillery salvo's, you have to lock a target and command the artillery. The enemies are sovjet type combattants, several kinds of them. And they fight back. So you will have to learn hiding behind terrain slopes, flying low and be fast. Never keep hanging around somewhere, keep moving and low.
You will also get several nightmissions, the nightgoggles gives a spooky effect.

The game as it is a pure dosgame can not run directly under NT/XP, on those OS you will need dosbox. Good thing anyway, it looks horrific on a big monitor, the pixels are enormeus. In fact it is best run on an old Dos pc with a small VGA monitor.

One minus : don't expect a realistic wargame. It isn't. Your AH64 can take a lot of hits before going down, the most enemies are destroyed too easely. All by all it is a fun heli flightsimulator, with some fairly good action in it.

My personal score: B+

Publisher : NovaLogic, Inc.
Developer : NovaLogic, Inc.
Platform: DOS
Released : 1992

Whoopsy, going down here

I'm not going to win the war

Lovely terrain

Burn, burn i say

Many bogeys here, gonna be fun

Night flight

Those oil tanks gonna get a rocket salvo
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Joined: 15 Mar 2005
Posts: 9245
Location: ROTFLMAO in Belgium.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 3:36 pm     Post subject: Reply with quote

Comanche II

Comanche 2, at first sight at the game you can think, this is comanche (1) with some addons.
This is in fact a new game, with a completely rewritten VOXEL game engine, now it can handle XMS and EMS memory.
Also it is able of multiplay, serial connect between two players, or parallell. Modem multiplay or LAN up to eight players.
COOP play or Head-to-Head.
Of course the sys requirements are a bit higher, you will need minimal 8 Mb Ram, but the good news is that the engine uses only some 150 Kb base memory, peanuts , every 486 dos pc has that amount of base memory. And as the EMS driver don't need to be shut down, no hassle with boot configuration or bootdisks. Nice. Released as a Dos or W 3.1 game, in fact it is again a pure dos game, W 3.1 will have trouble running this game steady on. It is better to run the game pure dos. On a XP pc it runs fine through dosbox.

The game itself is at first look simular to Comanche. You soon will realise from the first real missions that it isn't so. the missions are pretty hard to finish in single player mode. The enemy helicopters are harder to shoot down, certainly the Hind, and they bite back. Were in Comanche you could almost always take the enemy heli's down with one good aimed stinger, the hinds can take two or even more hits, leaving you horribly fast with empty stores. Luckely there are FARPs in the most levels, tough not in all. FARPs = Forward Area Refueling Points. Not named accurately as they also fill up your weaponry stores. Keep in mind you can be attacked by enemy forces whilst refueling / rearming your RAH-66. Don't stay grounded too long, a fast in and out is advisable. The more they have to load, the longer it takes. Also don't wait t'll all your stores are empty, on your way to the FARPs you have great chances to enjoy hostile encounters.

The weaponry your LHX (light attack helicopter) carries is the same as in Comanche, exept the cannon, this time it carries a retractable gatling gun with 3 barrels. Fast firing, deathly at short range onto armoured targets and mid range good to take down the light enemy heli's, and there are many of those in this game. Learn how to use your cannon on those light Hughes 500MD, and save your heavy weaponry for the harder targets. Every missile counts in Comanche 2.
If in Comanche altitude was deadly in Comanche 2 it becomes the epitome of evil, get your head to long in sight and you will certainly lose it. Stay low, use every ravine to hide, every ridge to close onto the enemy as stealthly possible. Hug the surface and mountain slopes, just stay high enough to avoid colliding with the surface. Avoid open plains, go around them. It will happen more than once trying to cross open terrain you will get in deadly crossfire from out several angles, no escape then, you will go down.

Is the single player pretty good, the multiplayer game is better. Get two dos pc's on a desk, a serial null modem or parallel cable, and prepare yourselves for some real action. Your mate is a green dot on the TAC (tactical display). The best gameplay is the COOP, don't think it makes the game easier. No, the game gets harder, it adapts itself on the number of players. How more players how harder to play. The multiplayer levels differs only slightly from the single player levels. You get more FARPs, but also more ambushes at those, so you are obliged to cover eachother, whilst one is grounded, the other must defend the FARPs. And vice versa. The head-to-head multiplayer is not so good, the terrain area's are too big, the fun is not half so good as in COOP.

The summun of Comanche 2 is reached trough LAN, theoretical up to 8 players, but in fact you can get 16 players up on one game through LAN, believe me, that is the real fun. But here also the game considers the number of gamers, and it's getting very hard to play.
One major plus is the compability of Comanche 2 with another game, build on the same improved VOXEL engine, Comanche versus Werewolf, compatibility also on LAN, divide yourselves into the two sides, and may the best side win. Head-to-Head mixed with COOP, what a gameplay.

The manual states the game can be played in multiplay over modem, but that isn't so easy to set up, as you are in pure dos, IPX troubles awaits you. Connection breakdowns will occur several times, that's frustrating. Better set up a LAN. And as the game does not support voice transfer, you will be able to communicate (read : scream and yell ) at eachother.

The graphics are the same as in Comanche, with some new and improved surroundings, new theatres of war, and improved VGA. The same remark also, they are concieved for maximum a 14" monitor, on bigger ones they get too much pixelated.

My personal quote : B+
Publisher : NovaLogic, Inc.
Developer : NovaLogic, Inc.
Platforms : DOS, Windows 3.X
Released : 1995
Stystem requirements :
486 CPU
8 Mb RAM
2*CD Drive
VGA card

Here I come, someone gonna get hurt ..

Nothing can beat the smell of burning oil

Low, stay low I say ... seems my right TAC has troubles
Oh yeah, the red and yellow dots on my left TAC aren't friendly

A nice patrolboat, will look good on my scoreboard

Chalk one up for dosraider
And here goes my right TAC again

Never knew the desert was so crowded

Those can wait, first the dangerous targets, I'll be back , if I survive

Night flight in the Artic, brrrrr cold
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Joined: 15 Mar 2005
Posts: 9245
Location: ROTFLMAO in Belgium.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 3:37 pm     Post subject: Reply with quote

Comanche 3

*** *** *** *** *** ***
Publisher: Novalogic
Developer: Novalogic
Platform: Dos, W-3.1, W-95, W-98, W-ME, and Mac.
US: 1997
Europe: 1998
Genre: Helicopter simulation, Action.
Single player, multiplayer: -> 8
*** *** *** ***
System Requirements
P1 100
Video: 1 MB
HD Space: 50 MB
Internet: serial, modem/broadband, LAN.
*** *** *** *** *** *** ***
ESRB: 6+, everyone,animated violence
PEGI: not rated
*** *** *** *** *** *** ***

A bit of history to begin with? Won't hurt you, isn't it?
In the year 1992 Novalogic released Comanche, based on the MS-Dos VOXEL engine, developed by Novalogic, a for those days lovely RAH-66 helicopter simulator, soon Comanche 2 followed based on the same slightly improved VOXEL engine, but still in 320x200 resolution. Acceptable when you play on a 14" monitor, not on a bigger one. In those days there was one concurrent beating that VOXEL engine: Longbow and Longbow Apache2 published by Jane's, running in higher resolutions and W95 compatible. Comanche (1) could not run easely on W-95, as it could not work with EMS memory. Comanche 2 could run on W-95 but the maximum Comanche 2 resolution was 320x200, completely outdated compared to the other early W-95 games, even if most were MS-Dos based.
Novalogic did the only thing they could do: rewriting the VOXEL engine till it could deal with 640x480 graphics in SVGA. The result is a smoothly running game in acceptable graphics, even on a bigger monitor, when I play Comanche 3 now on my 19" monitor in full screen it is still looking good.
Before beginning to spade trough the bargain bin's looking for Comanche 3 be aware that as so many MS-Dos / W-95 games it will not run directly in W-XP, you need MS-Dos, W-95/ W-98 or ME to run it. Dosbox can handle the game, but the CPU cycles must be cranked up to at least a 65,000, you need a high-end PC for this. VPC with W-95 or better also does the job.

Technically the game is much improved, the HUD is more detailed, compass and altitude gauges, bay door indicator, retractable gear and such whatnot's. Also the in-flight keys are extended, a lot to learn there before you can fly this helicopter flawless. You have the choice between a simplified flight model and a more realistic one. The realistic one is hard to learn: crashes lurking are all around, one slight fault in handling the Comanche and you will hit the dirt. The destructible environment gives a more realistic flight model compared to the first two Comanches; learning accurate aiming with your weaponry is fun destroying trees and buildings. Whilst we are on the weaponry, this is the same as in the two first ones, cannon, rockets, stingers, hellfires and artillery, and of course the weaponry from your companion is at your liberty to control.

Let's take a look at the game itself now.
This third Comanche is a whole other game compared to Comanche and Comanche 2. Were the first two somehow more arcade games learnable in about ten minutes of training, the third one is a full helicopter flight simulator. It has an extended training section, count on one hour or so to learn the handling of this RAH-66. The missions are full featured, with goals to accomplish along the several waypoints. It has some kind of a storyline, you against the bad guys. The bad guys are mainly eastern equipped troops, lazy in their ripostes and fairly slow and inaccurate. Usually in this kind of flight simulators the player is outnumbered by the enemy, no difference here, it is you and one or more companions against the more numerous adversaries. You can command your fellows or sometimes artillery to attack the targets you point out. Not everything on the ground or air is hostile, be careful when you aim and shoot a target, it isn't a good idea to liquidate your friends as you really will need their fire support to finish several of the more difficult missions.
The damage inflicted by the enemy fire that your RAH-66 can swallow in Comanche 3 is minimal, one good aimed SAM is enough to get you down, so stealth approach is vital to survive in this game. Using pop-up tactics combined with short radar sneaks to locate the enemy is highly advised. Open area are life threatening and are best avoided if possible. On the other hand the damage model when colliding the Comanche is unrealistic, more than once hitting obstacles with the rotor blades gave only slight damage and I could finish the mission. I doubt that in a real helicopter you can permit yourself such liberties.

The word has fallen, the missions, more specific the hardness of them, also the fun side. They are pretty hard in single player, you will have a harsh time finish them when playing alone. Some missions are almost not accomplishable in single player. The missions are about to seek and destroy mobile targets, commando posts, trains, buildings, tanks or bridges, a whole covered range of different targets. Some are easy, some others are really hard to finish. You can after playing your failed mission replay it and correct the faults you have made. What feels as a real lack is that you can't edit missions or create new ones, shame, it makes that you are restricted to the included missions. A possibility to ad or even alter the waypoints would have been a real improvement.

The help your wingman can give you is more than welcome, but alas the AI of this fellow is underneath reasonability. You better watch out giving him orders, that screwed up son of a bitch is capable to lock on a target from behind you and fire his darned cannon or missiles through your Comanche, damned. What a clumsy bastard. Team mate? My ass possess more AI than this wingman.

Comanche 3 is conceived as being mainly a multiplayer game, in multiplayer it becomes an agreeable flight simulator with challenging, interesting missions. That is the real way to play this game. Multiplayer connection is a pain in MS-Dos, luckily you can use the easier LAN connection if you run the game in W-95, W-98, W-ME or through VPC, if not, prepare yourself to have a mind screwing connect session. The game comes with EarthLink TM, worthless presently, also worthless is the provided shareware KALI driver. Serial connection is possible, but of course you are bound with a two-player game opposite an eight player support on LAN.

The good:
Improved game engine.
Good graphics in SVGA.
Varied missions.
Full training stage.
Entertaining gameplay.
Altogether an agreeable game.
Multiplayer fun.

The bad:
A lazy AI.
Wingman is not very bright in combat, sometimes really stupid.
Collision damage is unrealistic.
Internet multiplayer connection is not easy for novices.
No mission editor included, a real missed opportunity here.
Only 32 missions spread on 4 operations, plus some training missions.
The stated minimum system requirements are a joke, a P1 / 100 can not handle this game in higher resolutions.

An entertaining game with some flaws, really showing what it is worth playing in multiplayer.

Gameplay single: B
Gameplay multi: B+
Story: B
Tech details: B
All-round: B

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