Seven years is a long time. The latest game to remind us of this unfortunate fact is Enemy Engaged 2, a disappointing sequel to GameSpot's simulation of the year back in 2000, Enemy Engaged: RAH-66 Comanche Versus Ka-52 Hokum. Actually, it's a stretch to even call this a true sequel because this supposedly "new" game is actually just a revamped version of the original with slightly upgraded graphics and some new bugs. There is still an outstanding simulation of helicopter gunship combat buried in here, although it's basically a seven-year-old one with equal parts good and bad new additions.
It's hard to escape the feeling that this game was developed on the cheap to take advantage of the hardcore Comanche Versus Hokum fan base. Developer Gameyus Interactive has done little to establish this as an independent game, going so far as to reprint the original manual here as part of the on-disc PDF documentation. Aside from the title page, this seems to be a verbatim copy of the seven-year-old manual, right down to calling the game Comanche Versus Hokum all the way through even though the subtitle was dropped from the name of this follow-up. You would think that someone would have spent a few minutes to do a cut-and-paste job that would at least fool buyers into thinking they were getting a brand-new game.
It also would have been nice if someone would have tossed in a proper tutorial, either in the manual or (more preferably) in the game itself. While piloting a chopper into combat isn't as insanely hard as it would seem, a sim like this is in desperate need of an interactive mission that guides you through all of the ins and outs. The manual actually does a reasonably good job of detailing the steps needed to take off, hover, and run your helicopter through basic flight maneuvers, but it does little to prepare you for combat. You should expect to meet terra firma often during your first few hours with the game.
Still, because the original game was such a great blend of a hardcore flight sim and accessible action, it's not as if Enemy Engaged 2 is terrible. The three dynamic campaigns remain intense and involving. There is a serious been-there, done-that vibe going on because only the Korean campaign is actually new. But even though the Lebanese and Chinese campaigns seem like straight rehashes from the earlier game, they reward replays because of the dynamic structure that hits you with all sorts of realistic mission offers. These include reconnaissance flights, escorts, probing raids into unknown enemy-held territory, direct attacks on missile sites, and so forth.
The best part of this structure is the fluidity of the battlefields. You might be heading off on a run-of-the-mill escort and spot a couple of SAM batteries ripe for the plucking. Or you might be on a routine patrol and catch sight of an enemy destroyer that looks vulnerable. Best of all, if you go off the reservation to blow up a key enemy target, such as a base or a capital ship, the game recognizes this achievement and structures follow-up missions around it. Constant radio messages also relay that you're involved in a wide-ranging war because you can't complete a mission without hearing chatter about tanks being destroyed elsewhere or enemy armor columns being discovered on recon missions to other sections of the front. At any rate, because of the atmosphere of never knowing what you're going to encounter after you kick off the wheel brakes, it's easy to get addicted and rip through one mission after another for hours.
Unfortunately, there are some unpleasant surprises here as well. Much of the battlefield terrain is buggy. Objects flash in and out; landscape features, such as rivers and forests, seem to just pop into sight; and choppy frame rates plague you at inopportune times. And on top of those issues, crashes are a fairly common occurrence when loading missions. Audio quality is great, particularly the radio chatter, but it sure seems to be the same sound files that were used in the original game. Artificial intelligence is also a bit wonky. Enemy aircraft make some odd maneuvers, while allied and enemy troops, as well as armor columns, have trouble navigating roads. The menu and configuration systems really need some work because they're confusing and clunky. It shouldn't be this hard to set up a joystick or pick a mission during the campaign. The multiplayer mode supports only direct IP connections.
If you're happy with the original Enemy Engaged, stick with it. It's cheap, authentic, and can be modified into modernity with the loads of fan-made free content available online. But if you've never played the original game in the series, this might not be a bad starting point.