Flight Simulation game allows you to pilot Soviet-style aircraft, through a variety of missions and environments.

I have been a fan of video games, for as long as I can remember.  I remember countless hours in front of the NES with my parents and grandmother.  I have advanced, with the times, through a variety of Nintendo, Sony and Xbox machines.  With the recent release of the Nintendo Switch, and with my iPhone 7 plus/Ipad Air 2 games, my Xbox One has been neglected. I typically choose action/adventure, RPG, and shooter games as my go-to favorites.  I recently heard about Air Missions Hind and wanted to give it a try.  After the 3.8 GB Xbox One update, the 2GB game download, I was ready to review the game.

Air Missions: Hind, from 3Dvision, is listed as “an action combat flight simulator” and is based on the Russian Mi-24 Hind “Flying Tank” assault helicopter.  The introductory graphics are quite well done and the music is very action packed, reminding me of the music from “Pacific Rim.”  You can play the game individually and run through the fictional 15 campaign missions, involving a variety of environments Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Arctic Ocean and Southeast Asia.  The game also supports a variety of multiplayer modes: campaign missions, Deathmatch, Instant Action and Co-Op missions. Unfortunately, I was not able to play cooperatively (early release review) to know which modes were available. I do know that I will be back on this weekend to test out these modes when the game goes live on 6/14/17.  You can choose from a variety of helicopters and choose between numerous weapon types to include machine guns, GUV gun pods, FAB (soviet) bombs and missiles.

I really love new content/games, even though flight simulators tend to be a real challenge for me. The game does a great job at teaching you to ride the proverbial bike, as you take to the cockpit.  The 3DIVISION company is a based out of Slovakia and has roughly 10 years of history in game development, mainly in flight simulators and recently a Foosball game.  Their game feels polished and the controls are very responsive.  There were times that I felt like I was playing a helicopter version of “Call of Duty.”  The Air Missions game provides three distinct flight control modes for Casual, Novice and Pilot levels.  If you are not used to using every button on your Xbox One controller, this game may not be for you. Then again, like anything, practice makes perfect.  It took about 5 missions for me to feel comfortable with the control scheme and then it was fun to play.  Guns blazing, left stick depressed racing into a low flight mode, snap into an auto hover and launch an assault.  It is very rewarding to see the realistic explosions.

The very first mission is a training mission, which is worth replaying a few times.  You will start out by learning to take off by pressing the RS forward.  You will then be directed towards a variety of waypoints, to learn how to fly.  I chose the casual control mode and found it to be reasonable, but not proficient, after about 10 minutes.  Depressing the RS thumbstick will reverse direction.  Pressing the RS left/right will turn you as will turning the LS (moves reticle).  Press LS forward to go forward and backward to go backward, unless you invert the Y axis.  Some gamers prefer the inverted axis and some do not.  The fire buttons are the RT/LT buttons. You can change the weapons by pressing LB.  Change orientation modes by pressing the Y button.  This will cycle between left oblique view, right oblique view, cockpit mode and then a firing mode that looks like an infrared mode.

The game advances pretty quickly and you start unlocking weapons even after the training mission. The training mission was difficult, honestly more difficult than the first 5 missions, as there is a rather steep learning curve.  The graphics are beautiful and worth the time input.  Each mission builds on the story and increases the difficulty.  I found the flight controls to be reasonable but found actually targeting and firing to be the most difficult aspect.  The physics are realistic and you will need to lead your targets.  Firing when the reticle is exactly on the target will lead you to either a miss or to a fraction of splash damage. Eventually, you will need to take off, you will get to use a side gun on the helicopter in a later mission and take out numerous rooftop soldiers.  When complete, land the helicopter, pick up some of your men and then zoom away.  Pressing the up button on the D-pad will place you into the auto-hover mode, which makes landing easier. Release the landing gear with the button just above the D-pad (2 squares).  Open the doors with the same button and then fly away with your men.

I had a huge amount of respect for helicopter pilots, before playing this game.  If this is even a fraction of the difficulty of actually flying a helicopter, my degree of respect needs to be enhanced. Most of my previous simulation game experiences have been through a joystick or a mouse/keyboard.  Using the Xbox One controller was a new experience and proved to be a fun challenge.  The game does have a rather steep learning curve and will keep bringing you back for more excitement.  In fact, I did not even get an achievement until around Mission 5, when I had to capture a city in Central Asia.  You must complete the 3 waves, destroy artillery, vehicles, and men, then destroy 4 tanks (use your rockets), then moving tanks.  When complete it will alert you to the achievement.

I wish that I could have tested the co-op modes for the game to see what they were like.  I have put roughly 4-6 hours into the game and have really only begun to scratch the surface.  I love that they put in a campaign mode and did not force this to be only an online multiplayer shooter style game.  I had that complaint with games like Destiny and Titanfall. It is also very refreshing to have another game to play that is not a rehashing of the same game again and again.  I look forward to continued time spent with this game.  For now, flying around and blowing up convoys, tanks, other aircraft, and rescuing your stranded men, is just rewarding.  There may need to be more variety, but for now, I still have 2/3 of the missions to play.  I really did not experience any lag, to speak of.  The experience was quite rewarding, likely different than mouse/keyboard or joystick.  As you level up, you will gain new gear for your helicopters.  My biggest complaint are the generic enemies.  I am not alone in this complaint.  Who are we fighting?  When you release your barrage of rockets or your guided missile (Absolutely fun to drive a missile into a target), you will feel like a hero.  Watch for the game to release on the Microsoft Store.  The game will be fully released on Steam and Xbox One on 6/14/17.

I would rate this game at 4/5 stars.  There may be some replayability issues for the somewhat short campaign mode. Multiplayer may make this back to a 5/5 star rating.

Learn more about 3Division and the upcoming flight simulator from 3Division.net.
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