Longbow 2 Review

In the years before the release of Jane’s fabulous Longbow II, if you asked a flight sim enthusiast what their favorite helicopter sim was, you’d probably get “Gunship 2000” as the most common response. Why? Well, great flight modeling, fantastic mission, and multiple helicopters to fly were only a few of the reasons. Unfortunately, as time went on and as computers got faster, Gunship 2000 got more dated…so it’s quite fortunate that Longbow II was eventually released.

Longbow II, being the sequel to Longbow I, had a lot to live up to. Longbow I was the crowning achievement of its day, with it and its designer, Andy Hollis, receiving many accolades for his work. Longbow I, however, was not without its criticisms. It had only one helicopter to fly, canned missions (although there were many of them), no 3D accelerated graphics, and no multiplayer support to speak of. Longbow II solves all of these problems and does so much more.

Installation of Longbow II was easy, and the whole game takes up about 500 megs of HD space. You can choose the type of installation, expert or casual, and this will effect how the game plays. Don’t worry, this can be changed later.

Once installed, you’ll have to wait for the terrain to uncompress itself, but this was only done when playing for the first time. Upon loading Longbow II, you’ll be greeted by one of the best intro’s ever made for a Combat Simulation. This movie, which is made entirely with CGI, really gets the player in the mood to bust some chops, as it were.

Once the movie is over, the player is taken to the main menu screen, which just happens to be an Army base. This “menu” gives you all the options you’ll need, from creating your in-game persona, to training and campaigns. Let’s start with Training. Longbow I had one of the best training modules ever seen in a combat simulator. A fully voiced instructor (who sounded like Tommy Lee Jones in “Firebirds”) guided you through every aspect of Longbow training, from flying to advanced combat techniques. Well, this gentleman (who apparently is a real life instructor on the Apache) makes a return appearance in this game, as well as a couple of others for the new helicopters (more on this later). The training for Longbow II puts it head and shoulders above any competition. Rather than reading a small briefing before hand, having to remember everything in flight, or having the training in the manual, Longbow II again has fully voiced interactive instruction. One might notice that, however, that the frame rate might seem low. I don’t know why, but the frame rate really suffers in the training missions, but they don’t in actual missions, so this isn’t a hassle. The training missions are accompanied by a true behemoth of a manual, weighing in at over 300 pages. This manual goes into detail about every aspect of the game, and is required reading for maximum enjoyment.

There are options for single missions as well. These missions can be randomly generated or created by the player, and the computer usually knows what its doing in this respect. The real meat of the game, however, are the two campaigns, which are both dynamic. If you don’t know, a dynamic campaign, rather than relying on canned missions, tries to simulate the ebb and flow of a real war and/or battlefield. This means that the campaigns never play out the same way twice. The two campaigns are a training campaign with two US Army forces having at it. The second campaign, and the one that’s harder, is the Crescent Moon campaign. This takes place in Azerbaijan, and has you fighting Russians (again, I know, we’re always fighting Russians).

These two campaigns, and single missions, are presented by one of the best planning screens in the business. You don’t like the computer’s flight plan? Fine, make your own. You want a group of Kiowa scouts instead of Longbows scouting ahead? Go right ahead. The options are limitless, and the layout and functionality of the planner are excellent, and ot since DI’s Tornado has there been such a great planner.

I mentioned new helicopters above. Longbow II now features three flyable helicopters. They are the Apache Longbow (of course), the Kiowa scout helicopter, and the venerable Blackhawk transport. The inclusion of these two choppers really to enhance the gameplay, as now the variety of the missions you can undertake is greatly increased. Don’t feel like busting tanks? Fly some troops in behind enemy lines…or scout out for enemy positions. Let’s look at each chopper in detail.

The Apache Longbow, star of the game, is the venerable tank killer. This chopper, while not only being heavily armored, is also armed to the teeth with a moving chin cannon, missiles, and rockets. This chopper is your main attack vehicle, and while the Kiowa has some limited offensive and defensive capability, this is the chopper you send when something needs to be destroyed. The main feature of the Longbow is the Mast Mounted Radar. This gives the Longbow the advantage of only having to uncover the radar module rather than the whole helicopter in order to get a radar picture of the battlefield. Longbow II models this feature rather faithfully, and successful bobbing and masking techniquies are vital to your success.

The Kiowa is an enhancement of Bell’s Jet Ranger helicopter. The main feature of the Kiowa is the Mast Mounted Sight, which is much different than the Mast Mounted Radar on the Longbow. This sight not only includes radar equipment, but also a variety of cameras so that the helicopter may remain behind cover and visually spot the enemy. Once enemies have been spotted, the Kiowa may lase the target so that Longbows may be called in to take it out.

Finally, we come to the workhorse of the Army, the Blackhawk. The Blackhawk is a large, fast, simple machine that lacks the grace of the other two helicopters. What it lakes in grace it makes up for in stamina and carrying capacity. The Blackhawk is mainly used to either insert troops near or behind enemy lines, or to pick up troops in a variety of situations. The Blackhawk lacks the variety of digital displays used in the Longbow and Kiowa copters. The Blackhawk is much more spartan, but no less important, as an insertion mission can have just as much weight on success as a strike mission.

These helicopters are all modeled in fine detail, and they all have more than one station modeled. The Longbow has both the front and rear seats modeled, and both are fully usable by the player. The Kiowa models both pilot and co-pilot stations, although one won’t usually need to switch between the two. Finally, the Blackhawk models the door gunners, letting you personally cover insertion or extraction missions.

The flight models on these choppers are also excellent. The flight model is completely configurable, so that if you want simplistic flight controls with realsitic avionics controls, you can have that. With everything set to realistic, just getting your chopper to the LZ or the hot zone might be a challenge, as the flight model is quite realistic and unforgiving. This makes the game even better for die-hard sim nuts who just crave realism above all else.

The graphics in the game itself are fabulous, with only one glaring flaw. The game has no trees…no foliage of any kind. I know this would really drag down the frame rate, but this is something we all wanted to see. Other than that, the graphics are great. Objects such as your own helicopter or enemy encampments are beautiful, and the terrain is nothing to sneeze at either. Initially, however, the game shipped with only 3dFX Glide support, which at the time wasn’t really a problem since 3dFX dominated the 3D acceleration scene. Well times have changed, and luckily, a patch that supports Direct 3D (though not as well as Glide) has been released since the games initial release.

The visual effects are also lovely. One hasn’t lived until one has seen a maverick night shot. The graphics, for both day and night, are splendid. This game models the scary pitch-blackness of the night all to well, and even good night vision gear won’t help with the ominous dread of the night.

Sound in the game comes way of chatter and sound effects. The chatter that goes on throughout a mission is splendid. Other flights will report their sightings, call for help, report a victory, and whatever else might come up. They’re all voiced differently and rather well, so that you really can feel their pain. The sound effects of the game, from explosions to rotors to missile launches, are also quite well done.

Finally, and the one point that everyone was asking for, is multiplayer. Andy Hollis stated in many interviws about this game that anything that could be done in single player could also be done in multiplayer, since he wanted it done right. Well, luckily for us, he and Jane’s succeeded. The multiplayer component for this game is incredibly feature rich, from single missions to campaigns, everything CAN be done in a multiplayer environment. This also means in the same helicopter as well! You want to be the Pilot in the Longbow while someone handles the weapons in the front seat? Go ahead. You want to handle a door gun on the Blackhawk while someone flies it? Be my guest. The possibilities for multiplayer action are as limitless as single player, and with added support for Jane’s Combatnet through a patch, opponents won’t be too hard to find. Combatnet, also, is a great service, with 4 people playing with little lag over 56k modem connections.

In conclusions, I’ve stated the facts that make Longbow II considered by many (including this reviewer) to be the best Helicopter sim ever made. There have been few challenges made to the throne, but overall, no one can beat Longbow II’s feature set and playability. If you like fliyng, helicopters, or just blowing things up, do yourself a favor and get this game. Even better, it comes in the Longbow Anthology, which includes Longbow I Gold and Longbow II, so I’d suggest picking that up if you don’t already own it. So stop reading this review and go get Longbow II…you won’t be disappointed.


Beautiful, but no trees!


Lively chatter and great aurals make for a sonically great experience.


If this is your thing, you’ll have a blast.

Replay Value

Randomly generated single missions, dynamic campaigns, multiplayer options, and a 3rd party full featured mission editor ensure YEARS of replayability.


The huge manual covers just about everything you’d need.

Bravo Air Race Overview

Bravo Air Race is a different type of PlayStation racing game: instead of cars, you’ll race with planes! There are a total of ten planes to initially choose from (including WWII style fighters and stunt planes), all differing in speed, acceleration and mobility. The types of aircraft include a Lightning, Mustang, Thunderbolt, Corsair, Zero Fighter, Sinden, Messerschmitt, Spitfire, Geebee, Pitts and two hidden planes. Once you select your plane, you’ll be able to freely choose any of the four courses to race on: Canyon, Snow Land, South City or Mountain. Watch for arrows or listen to the announcer signaling when you need to turn, dive or climb as you make your way through the course.

Play involves racing against the computer for three laps while trying to cross the finish line first. Find yourself lagging behind? Pick up red balloons with an “S” inside them for extra speed! After winning, you can then race on another course, choose a different plane, or try your hand at a Time Attack mode. Besides the one-player game, you’ll be able to race against a second player on a horizontally-split screen. While the courses are not entirely open, those still having difficulty can choose an option to turn on blue spheres. These spheres will form a line helping players navigate the winding courses. Bravo Air Race also includes two camera angles for either a behind-the-plane or inside-the-cockpit perspective.

Ultima Online Review

Role-playing all day, all night, in a huge world with thousands of other people. What more could a serious, and maybe even not-so-serious, RPG fan want? Ultima Online is the latest in the Ultima series created by Richard Garriot, aka. Lord British, many, many moons ago when RPGs were text-based. This incarnation exists entirely online in a rich real-time environment populated with thousands of other gamers.

This Ultima is a little different than the other versions you may be familiar with. Though the landscape is nearly the same there is no Avatar, no gargoyles and, seemingly no ultimate goal or storyline. Events in Ultima Online are completely generated by the players, though occasionally Origin has been known to seed a quest or two. The story goes that the Gem of Immortality has been shattered and each shard has produced a parallel universe. These universes serve as an explanation of the games servers. Currently a single server can hold about 2,000 people at once and everytime you play you must choose which server to play on. Your characters, however, can only exist on one server and cannot be transferred, so to play on a different server, if your favorite is full, means creating a new character.

Ultima Online is interesting because it allows players to completely choose their own paths within the game world. For example, if being a successful carpenter or tavern owner is your idea of fun, you can spend your entire online life making chairs and tending bar. If, however, you seek adventure and dungeon crawls and even all-out war, that too is certainly available. The world works on a complex real-world model where, say, if you kill too many rabbits, well, the bears that eat the rabbits may get mad and come after you. Subsequently, the angry bears may keep lumberjacks out of the woods, making the price of chairs soar to new heights.

Ultima Online is an extremely addicting game, especially since it is possible to become part of an online community. Player run guilds and towns, and even larger cities are becoming a common occurrence. Unfortunately though, as with many online games, technical problems tend to hinder gameplay. Complaints about bugs and rampant player killing are frequent on newsgroups and several web pages but Origin, for the most part, has been responsive to feedback, and updates the game via online patches. Customer service at Origin, however, seems to be notoriously bad and this is an issue that will definitely need fixing in the near future.

Ultima Online seems to be a game that will evolve over time, as long as player and company interest runs high. There are matters that still need to be ironed out, but for the most part, this is one of those games where “just a half hour” can turn, quite truthfully, into weeks and weeks of addiction.


Outstanding! Landscapes are rich and beautiful, with details such as books on shelves and monster animations.


There are some music and background noises, but you will probably turn them off to make the game run faster.


Completely addictive.

Replay Value

You might never stop playing!


The game comes with almost no documentation.

Automobili Lamborghini Review (1997 Nintendo64)

Titus’s Automobili Lamborghini is good, but when it comes to racing games, it doesn’t break any new ground. It combines the simplicity of a game like Cruis’n USA with the more advanced options of a game like F1 Pole Position, but unfortunately it sits in a middle ground where a lot of people will probably overlook it. Those who want pure arcade action will opt for Cruis’n, while those who desire realistic racing will want F1, which leaves this game sitting on a fence, not quite an arcade game but not complex enough to depict realistic racing.

The Italian sports car company Automobili Lamborghini licensed their name to Titus for this game, thus fulfilling the dreams of any kid who wished he could race around in a real live Contach. The realism of the game, though, is mostly limited to manual versus automatic shifting and the chance to make pit stops during races. You don’t get the chance, for example, to play around with the vital stats of your car or decide what type of tires your pit crew should put on, which makes those features seem like an attempt to simply offer something for the hard-core racing buffs.

This game is the most fun in arcade mode. There are a lot of tracks to choose from, and the computer-controlled cars are extremely hard to beat. Multi-player mode is fun, but playing with three other people and trying to keep track of your car and theirs on a four-way split screen can be difficult.

The controls are very touchy, making it hard to maintain your position around curves. You don’t have to move the joystick much to turn your car. The instruction book recommends trying the “semi-analog” setting, and that seems to help a little. It can be frustrating to get the hang of the way this game handles, though; Cruis’n USA is much easier to adjust to than this one.

Overall, Automobili Lamborghini is a middle-of-the-road cartridge whose features will appeal to both racing aficionados and arcade-style racers, but ultimately those features have been implemented better in other games.




Could be better.


Enjoyable, but not something that sticks with you.

Replay Value

Not a lot here.


Slim book.

Battlespire: An Elder Scrolls Legend Review

After the impressive successes of the two previous titles in Bethesda Softwork’s highly acclaimed RPG series set in the epic world of Tamriel (The Elder Scrolls: Arena and The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall), the failure of Battlespire to build upon that success is baffling and disappointing. Battlespire is the beginning of a new Legend series that was touted to draw upon and enhance the world of Tamriel by focusing on better graphics, shorter gameplay and a distinct endgame purpose, unlike the earlier open-ended sagas. Many of the things which made the previous titles unique and enjoyable are still here: a fully customizable character generation feature, the choice of a full screen first person perspective or one with an unobtrusive command bar, hack and slash combat mode using mouse movement to direct your weapon and control of inventory and magic spells through the use of hotkeys (F1 thru F8). The environment is mostly indoors with the occasional excursion outside but you’ll spend most of your time trolling through dungeons doing battle with the evil minions who have taken control of the training facility, Battlespire.

The game’s manual is informative regarding setting up and creating your character’s race, class, skills, attributes and appearance. It provides adequate data in terms of spells, weapons, equipment, magic items and character advantages and disadvantages. But the designers of Battlespire have gone out of their way to insure no information was provided on exactly “how” to go about your quest. The floating citadel of Battlespire is supported by magical anchors over which you must learn control and the use of the Daedric alphabet-based ward sigils (though defined in the manual) is left to you to figure out. But the biggest drawback to Battlespire is to be found in the uninspired and sluggish performance of the game itself. Not only did Bethesda renege on its promises of 3Dfx support (with references in the manual which don’t apply to the finished product) but the Xngineâ„¢ engine with newly added SVGA graphics (even with graphics set at low-res, with an option for hi-res) is choppy, at times slow and frustrating (especially in battle mode) and reintroduces the player to old problems such as characters getting stuck and even creatures walking through walls and objects on occasion.

Even with these considerable shortcomings,Battlespire will keep the intrepid RPGer occupied for a while. The premise of the storyline is good and it does perpetuate the Tamriel experience. With the introduction of multiplayer options over the internet, Battlespire does offer something the earlier TES titles didn’t: the ability to take your character ‘on the road’ and bash heads with others of like ilk with many options: team versus computer, team versus team, deathmatch or Capture the Flag. The setup over the ‘net is quite easy and you can quickly get immersed in multiplayer mayhem. All in all, Battlespire falls short of what it could have been mainly because of outdated development techniques but the basis for a grand series remains.


Very disappointing. No 3Dfx support as originally advertised. Choppy, slow moving interface at times. High level of pixelation on “up close” scenes (although adequate on views from a distance).


Some very good voice acting and fairly extensive conversation gambits create viable atmosphere. The conversations with NPC’s is actually one of the highlights of the game. At times character movements slow down (or stop) when music is accessed off the CD-ROM.


The concept of tighter gameplay, better graphics and multiplayer possibilities is great; however, execution of those worthy goals fall short. Overcoming the shortcomings of the game (inexplicably Bethesda didn’t even make use of DirectX5.0 or Windows 95) detract from being able to fully enjoy this one.

Replay Value

The only replay value associated with Battlespire would stem from multiplayer internet mode. The game itself, once completed, would not leave much to redo.


Fairly informative manual but leaves player faced with learning a great deal about the Battlespire world by trial and error. Good marks for details regarding “things” in the game; just not too helpful on the “how”.