This is the first ever helicopter simulation on the Amstrad and comes from the people who brought you one of the oldest and yet still most respected flight simulators, Fighter Pilot. It's based on the US Apache helicopter, hence the appearance of Red Indian axes in the name of the game.It's in a similar vein to Strike Force Harrier with just as much action and even better graphics.
The game takes place on a 100 x 200 mile scale map split up into 200 sectors in which one of four types of mission can be taken on. The first is a simple training mission in which you can familiarize yourself with the flight controls without too much enemy harassment. The other three are tough combat set ups where skilled flying and fighting are called for.
Your view is through the front of the Apache with an instrument panel at the base of the screen giving all the necessary flight and weapons information. Take off and flight are relatively easy to achieve, all you have to do is turn the throttle up full and change the angle of the rotor blades, using the "collective", to give you lift. Pushing forward on the stick will then give you forward flight as you dip the nose of the chopper. Practice will enable you to control the vertical speed and hover.
Slowing down and landing are a different matter though - helicopters don't have brakes. Weaving to cause air resistance should do the job but practice as ever teaches you the tricks. There isn't too much more to the flying - it's mainly a matter of being aware of your height, speed and vertical speed.
Once in the air and flying around you can start to admire the scenery. It's different every time you play the game so you can't map out the features but the same ones are always there. All the features are drawn with vector graphics and although this means they lose some solidity they move very smoothly around screen and not as jerkily as the "sprites" in Strike Force Harrier. There are groups of mountains and trees which can be flown through or crashed into if you're not careful. Buildings also appear which again can be inspected very closely and collided with by the unwary.
The other major features are of course the forces. These consist mostly of tanks and field guns on the ground and a single helicopter that chases you in the air. All three can inflict damage on the chopper, knocking it out of the sky eventually. They can be destroyed using your three weapon systems, laser guided missiles (fire and forget), rockets and cannon fire, although cannon fire doesn't work on tanks. Points are awarded for the type of target destroyed and the weapon system used (more points for using cannon).
There are plenty of options for altering the game including night flying, a cloud layer in which you fly blind, cross winds and turbulence, four skill levels and a green screen option. The instrument display is packed with good stuff like radar, target identification, engine readouts and weapon status but it can be easily used at a glance.
There are four bases in each sector which can be landed at for repair and re-equipping but to start with you'll be happy flying around and shooting things. Packed with so many good things this is a more than worthy successor to Fighter Pilot and will provide you with plenty of action.
If you want to simulate flight - and engage in battle at the same time - you need look no further. This game has just about everything you could want except goggles. Graphically it's excellent, while the options provide lavish amounts of long-term interest.
Simulators certainly have come on a long way since Fighter Pilot. The days are gone when you could have either a realistic simulator or a worthwhile game, but not both. This game quite definitely is both.
There's a green screen option. What more could you want?
P. Superb graphics combining colour and vectors.
P. Great flying controls - not too tough but not too easy.
P. Nice mixture of simulator and combat.
P. Four different missions.
P. Even better than Strike Force Harrier!
N. Not very original in the jetstream of Strike Force Harrier.