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Added: 4 Jun 2012
LHX Attack Chopper is a 1990 war helicopter simulation game for the PC by Electronic Arts. The game was developed by Electronic Arts, Design and Programming led by Brent Iverson, also known for the PC-DOS version of Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, and US Navy Fighters.
The game was originally for PC-DOS, but versions for other platforms, such as the Mega Drive/Genesis, were also made thereafter. The resolution of the game for the PC platform was MCGA, 320x200 pixels in 256 colors. As many other games in those years, it had rudimentary copy-protection in the form of a question displayed after loading the game, which asked some specification from the game manual.
The game modeled 4 aircraft; two attack helicopters, the Light Helicopter Experimental, LHX, based on the McDonnell Douglas-Bell LHX concept similar to the Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche, and a Boeing AH-64A Apache, and two cargo helicopters, a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and a Boeing V-22 Osprey. It also had three different maps, Libya, Vietnam and East Germany, on which a multitude of missions are available.
All missions were available from the outset, so there were no "locked" missions. The player could also choose the mission difficulty from five different levels, ranging from "Easy" to "Very Hard". Missions had one primary and one secondary objective, out of which only the primary objective was critical to successfully complete the mission. They were explained in a pre-mission briefing, after which the player could choose both their helicopter and the weapons they were going to carry on the mission. Some missions required carrying cargo or rescuing POWs or downed pilots, in which cases only the Black Hawk and the Osprey helicopters were available. Weapons available ranged from AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-92 Stinger anti-air missiles to AGM-114 Hellfire and BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles.
After choosing one's helicopter and weapons, the player was put on an airfield, ready to fly. Curiously, one departed not from a helipad, or helicopter landing area, but directly from the middle of the origin runway. The game featured some destructible structures (hangars, fuel tanks, bridges, and in Libya missions dromedaries which would explode upon being hit), and portrayed Cold War enemy tanks, missile launchers, helicopters and airplanes, mostly Soviet in origin and all of them still in use in many countries of the world. All helicopters had state of the art IR and ECM countermeasures, including flares and chaff, which when used correctly, enabled the helicopter to avoid direct missile hits. Basic tactics were also included in the simulation, as flying lower to the ground tended to reduce the number of incoming missiles.
The view from the cockpit of the LHX.
When taking hits, the helicopter would either suffer it with no visible consequence, or a component on the helicopter would be damaged and rendered inoperable. Such components include hydraulic systems, one or both of the engines, hard points (weapons), tail rotor (which was devastating), countermeasures, oil or fuel (which would leak out until you crashed), dash screens, and more rarely, the pilot could be injured, which was represented with a bullet hole or two in the cockpit windshield. Some of these would cause the helicopter to crash, while others were merely inconvenient. Additionally, the helicopter could explode mid-air, although the view always remained until the helicopter hit ground. All of this affected game play, and it was very important to survive the mission, since getting killed would effectively erase all game points and medals earned up to that moment with that specific profile. The best option, if unable to complete the mission, would be to try to go back to friendly territory, and land at an airbase, or at least beyond the enemy lines. In an emergency, the player could land their chopper in enemy territory, in which one of a number of scenarios would be reported. These included being captured by the enemy, and later traded on a POW exchange or escaping, simply walking out, picked up by friendlies, or being found and killed. Landing too hard or taking enough damage would also kill the pilot, depending on the difficulty setting.
All missions had a debriefing at the end, which displayed the final mission results, how much damage was taken by the helicopter, how much it would cost to fix it, and any medals awarded as a result of the mission. Medals available included the Purple Heart, Air Force Cross, and even the Medal of Honor. These awarded medals were also saved in the profile, along with any earned gamepoints.
Added: 19 Jun 2012
LHX ATTACK CHOPPER
The United States Army depends on helicopters to perform a variety of missions,
from rescuing wounded, to providing air cover, to delivering supplies. The
latest helicopter on the Army's shopping list is the LHX, or Light Helicopter
eXperimental. It's designed to scout and attack enemy positions quickly, with
minimal chance of early detection. Electronic Arts has turned out a challenging
simulation involving this helicopter. (This review is based on the IBM-PC
Four helicopters are included in LHX Attack Chopper: the AH-64A Apache, the
UH-60 Blackhawk, the V-22 Osprey, and the LHX. Each of these aircraft has
strengths and weaknesses to consider when choosing one for a mission. The Apache
carries the most ordnance. The Osprey is actually a VTOL airplane, and flies the
fastest. The LHX is the most technically sophisticated and presents the smallest
I tested LHX Attack Chopper on a GenTech 386/20 computer, with a Paradise VGA
Pro graphics card, Mitsubishi Diamondscan monitor, and CH Mach IV joystick. My
other games all recognize my CH Flightstick as joystick 1 and the Mach IV as
joystick 2. LHX reversed the stick numbers.
LHX includes a program called JTUNER.EXE that tests and helps calibrate
joysticks. It is more sophisticated than any joystick centering routines I've
ever seen. JTUNER makes multiple passes to fine-tune the sticks until they're
almost perfectly centered.
The three theatres of conflict in LHX are Libya, Vietnam, and East Germany.
These electronic battlefields are much smaller than those of typical jet fighter
simulators. The battle maps are about 30x30 miles. Most missions can be
accomplished in about 20 minutes.
The missions include strikes at ground targets, rescues, evacuations, escorts
for other choppers, and supply drops. Free flight with no targets allows the
novice helicopter pilot to get the feel of the aircraft.
Helicopter cockpits share many of the features found in jet fighter cockpits.
HUDs (heads-up displays), MFDs (multi-function displays), artifical horizons,
and electronic countermeasures are present in all four helicopters. Weapons
include air-to-air missiles, anti-tank missiles, machine guns, and unguided
rockets. The Apache and Blackhawk carry more weapons, while the lighter Osprey
and LHX sacrifice capacity for speed.
Flight simulator purists will find that the helicopter flight equations are not
realistic. The choppers "center up" too quickly after completing a turn, and
stop forward motion almost immediately after releasing the stick to neutral
position. Ground effect turbulence is exaggerated to add some difficulty to low
altitude flying. The game is probably easier to play with these shortcomings
than if the aircraft handled with full realism.
There are five levels of difficulty, but LHX is not forgiving. The enemies at
level 1 are formidable. These "amateurs" will exploit a single mistake, and one
mistake is usually fatal. This is the game's greatest weakness. You need some
soft enemies to practice against before going up against the tough ones. When I
tried level 3, I could complete the mission objective, but not make it back to
base. At level 5, I could never get close to the mission objective. My chopper
was always detected and eliminated in a hail of coordinated air and ground
The value of a game/simulation is measured in the amount of play time it gives
before becoming tiresome: LHX is addictive. The simplified flight equations make
targeting easier. The variety of aircraft, missions, and theatres hold your
interest. The documentation is very detailed, with sections on each of the
aircraft. Game scenery is not rich, but it would take a powerful computer to
crunch the graphics routines for more complex scenery, placing the game out of
the reach of many players. LHX ATTACK CHOPPER is challenging and fun. It needs
an easier novice level, but practice and patience will eventually pay off. I
recommend LHX to jet jocks looking for a change of pace.
LHX ATTACK CHOPPER is published and distributed by Electronic Arts.
*****DOWNLOADED FROM P-80 SYSTEMS (304) 744-2253
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