The Complete Guide to Computer Aviation
by Steve Smith
MicroProse's Gunship 2000 is another story. It's been around since 1991, and, through several "slipstreamed" (unheralded) releases, has been steadily improved. With the release of the "Islands & Ice" mission disk, which has patches that improve the original game play as well as adding new scenarios, Gunship 2000 offers interesting challenges, sustains your interest, and pays off in rewarding ego strokes.
Gunship 2000 comfortably fits the MicroProse paradigm (as limned in F-15 Strike Eagle III and F-117A Stealth Fighter)); that is, as the game begins, you're in the duty clerk's office, where you select pilots and a theater of operations (or training missions at Fort Rucker, Alabama), review previous missions, and bring dead pilots back to life ("Let's just say your last mission was a bad dream," begins the explanation).
From there, you proceed to the mission briefing, where you pore over S-2 (intelligence), the primary and secondary targets, and a tactical map. If you accept the mission, you then select weapons appropriate to the task (Stingers for air targets, Hellfires for ground targets, 70-mm Hydra unguided rockets to sow chaos and confusion). Then you proceed to the mission.
Your missions vary from search-and-destroy to search-and-rescue, to armed reconnaissance, to tactical air support. The theaters are limited: Central Europe and the Persian Gulf in the original release; the Antarctic (part deux of the Falklands War) and the Philippines (the return of the Huks) in the "Islands & Ice" add-on disk. Campaigns last about eight missions.
At first, like Strike Eagle and F-117A Stealth, you fly lonely solo missions, but if you don't screw up, you're promoted to lead a squadron of five other helicopters. You can choose not only your missions but also the other pilots in your squadron and the helicopters they fly (AH-1 Cobra, AH-6 Defender, AH-64 Apache, RAH-66 Comanche, UH-60 Blackhawk, and the small-but-deadly OH-58 Kiowa, although, in truth, they all fly pretty much the same). With the "Islands & Ice" add-on disk, you also get a mission builder, so you can design your own missions. Unlike some sims, you can't fly for the opposing side.
During the missions, you are hard-pressed to make the best of your resources and situation; you encounter difficulties great and small; you need guile, cunning, and physical dexterity. Experience doesn't hurt either. Although the external views are limited during your missions, there is an excellent VCR-like mission recorder with a wide selection of viewpoints for your edification and delectation back at base. But alas, there is no multiplayer mode.
In many respects, Gunship 2000 is the most perfectly realized MicroProse sim. If only it had Comanche Maximum Overkill's scenery.…Oh well.