When I was younger there wasn’t a day go by in which I didn’t dream of what I wanted to be when I grew up.
There were many crazy ideas that went through my head – from being an astronaut to a professional footballer and everything in between. One thing that I dreamt of the most was becoming a pilot. In my late teenage years, I even decided to put in time with the Air Cadets in order to clock several hours towards that coveted pilots license.
Since that point though, things have changed a little and these days the closest I tend to get to a plane is when those rare games pop up on the games store, inviting me into the cockpit of the latest multi-million pounds aircraft, before asking me to clear the skies of countless enemies. Fortunately, my recent craving to climb into the cockpit has been fulfilled with Air Missions: HIND. But has it been everything I had dreamt of, or have I been left looking at another reason to pursue a real aircraft experience once more?
If that opening segment didn’t get you up to speed, I’m a bit of an aviation nerd. So, when I found out Air Missions: HIND was said to bring an action combat flight simulation experience based on the Russian Mi-24 Hind Assault Helicopter, it’s fair to say I was quite thrilled. After all, the Mi-24 is one of the Russian military’s longest serving aircrafts, and with the extra gadgets it brings, such as the UPK 23 machine guns, GUV gunpods and FAB bombs, there’s a good reason it’s widely known as the flying tank.
But sometimes, games can portray things differently from the real world, and unfortunately it only took a matter of minutes before I realised Air Missions: HIND was about to put an end to any hopes of the true simulation experience I had hoped for.
There are several ways to play Air Missions: HIND, with both single player and multiplayer modes on offer. Single player comes with four options – Campaign, Instant Action, Test Flight and Instant Mission. Campaign is the place most will look to start the game, delivering 15 missions for players to work their way through, as well as a few training missions to allow you to get to grips with vehicle handling, movement and weapon training.
Before each campaign mission players can choose from a number of helicopters – which itself begs the question as to why it isn’t called Air Missions rather than specifying one available aircraft – before choosing from a selection of weapons to fit to your helicopter for the mission.
The campaign was where I began too, and it quickly became my first gripe with Air Missions: HIND.
With 15 missions to contend with you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re probably looking at quite a lengthy experience. Unfortunately, that’s not the case – each mission only lasts a maximum of ten minutes, with the average time being just a measly few minutes for each one. Of course, short missions don’t immediately mean poor missions, but it seems Air Missions: HIND doesn’t only have extremely short assignments, but also repetitive and boring ones. Throughout the campaign the only real variation comes from your weapon selection or enemy type, with players being asked to either clear out soldiers, tanks, AA weapons or enemy helicopters. This may not sound terrible to some, but when each enemy feels the same as the last and it takes nothing more than firing several missiles into them in order to destroy each one, it quickly becomes apparent that you’re not in need of much skill to roll through each mission.
Regrettably this wasn’t something that ironed itself out later either, with the entire campaign feeling identical from start to finish; the only real change coming from the location of each mission. Once more though this fails to spark much interest due to the bland environmental graphics and old school design, making it feel more like an Original Xbox game rather the latest Xbox One release.
Instant Action and Instant Mission will possibly be your next port of call, and these modes provide a quick way to get straight into the thick of things. There’s no training here, with players instead choosing one of 12 scenarios within Instant Action, or one of eight missions in the Instant Mission mode, before diving straight into action. These missions differ slightly from those found in campaign mode, but once more the challenge is finding something enjoyable as gameplay is again highly repetitive.
A big part of that repetitive feel comes down to just how unpolished the game feels. As a game that is touted to be a simulation experience, you would expect things to be as lifelike as possible. However almost everything in Air Missions: HIND is as far away from a simulation as you can get. With poor visuals and dodgy helicopter handling, ensuring the likes of turning, moving and taking off all prove to be exceptionally unrealistic regardless of which helicopter, you can see why Air Missions frustrates.
More importantly, it also brings some of the worst aiming mechanics seen in a game yet. No matter whether you’re raining machine gun fire on ground units or firing missiles into an enemy directly in front of you, more often than not you’ll end up missing the target. Even after lining up your targets perfectly, weapons will often fire just under or over enemies which can make for some truly frustrating moments.
Those hoping this would be something that’s just affecting the single player offering, should probably hold on tight for something else to come their way. Multiplayer gives players the opportunity to jump into Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Co-op Campaign, or Co-op Instant Missions. But in order to partake in any of these, will need to get past the stage of having absolutely no-one to play with due to the empty servers. Even if you find a friend, you will then be faced with the same issues that are hounding the single player offering. With poor handling and physics for all vehicles, exceptionally slow movement, painful and completely inaccurate weapon firing and dull missions to contend with, any excitement you had for some co-op fun will quickly die out.
Whilst there is a lot to be disappointed with in Air Missions: HIND, one thing that isn’t completely terrible is the accurate design of each of the in-game helicopters. But with the handling of each so poorly recreated, no lifelike simulation experience is ever going to be achieved.
Air Missions: HIND is certainly a game in need of a lot more work if it wishes to be considered anything like a simulation title. With a poor showing in every category from start to finish, there isn’t really much to recommend you give it a try. Those looking for a true flight experience are better off heading to your local airfield or waiting for the highly anticipated release of Ace Combat later this year.
Unfortunately Air Missions: HIND is not one I can recommend and is a hugely disappointing addition to the genre.