E3 2011: Take On Helicopters Preview Impressions

Bohemia interactive pilots a chopper to the West Coast in its E3 2011 demo for this helicopter sim.


Take On Helicopters

Flight sims may be a dying breed, but helicopter flight sims are almost unheard of nowadays. Enter Take On Helicopters, a civilian aviation simulator built using the ARMA II game engine. We chatted with Bohemia Interactive's Jay Crowe, who filled us in on what to expect from Take On Helicopters while he showed off the game in motion.

Who's Making It: Bohemia Interactive is best known for its ARMA games, which are less first-person shooters than they are full-on war simulators. Take On Helicopters isolates the high-fidelity helicopter flight model from the latest ARMA game and implements it in a spacious civilian flight sim.

What It Looks Like: The gameplay we saw took place over the skies of Seattle. The city was modeled to the last detail, and volumetric clouds, fully reflective mirrors, and normal mapping are just some of the visual aspects Bohemia is proud to be using. The area you have access to is massive--60 square kilometers of space, which is even a greater area than ARMA III will cover.

Impressively, you can also get out of your chopper and walk around it to perform pre-flight inspections and view any damage and interact with doors and other parts of the aircraft. The damage modeling is so accurate that you will see any stress damage appear on the helicopter, as well as feeling its effects in flight. As long as you can land, you can also get out and check out the environments, though landing pads and other areas created for inspection will look much better than random Oregon forests or generic buildings.

What You Do: You don't fire any weapons in Take On Helicopters. The focus is on flight, and to that end, there are campaign missions and random challenges in addition to free flight. (Modders should note that they will be able to create their own missions.) Helicopters come in light, medium, and heavy varieties, each of which possesses its own feel, or "character," as Crowe described it. There is a campaign, though it isn't heavy on cinematic splendor. Instead, it provides light context to your missions.

What They Say: Take On Helicopters is due for release in late October 2011. It is currently in alpha state and is entering public beta next month.

What We Say: Take On Helicopters may seek a niche audience, but that audience will eat up the developer's commitment to authenticity.

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