Feb 02

Astraware HellfireHellfire - Title ScreenI have always liked chopper simulations. It gives me the feel of flying Airwolf, one of the best sci-fi TV series that deals with helicopters. How I wish I could play Longbow 2 on today’s hardware.

Astraware’s (now a subsidiary of Handmark, Inc.) newly released game Hellfire, made that dream come true, albeit in a much smaller scale. If you have previously used smartphones, especially those powered by Palm OS or similar, then both Astraware and Hellfire might be familiar territory. As usual, however, the iPhone OS version is always different. Read on to find out more!

As with many games ported over to the iPhone from another platform, the first thing we’ll notice is the use of accelerometer controls. Hellfire made flying choppers as easy as tilting forward, backwards and also the occasionally left and right turns. Fear not if you are new to playing games using the accelerometer – the game includes a built-in tutorial that covers everything from flying to releasing your first AGM (air-to-ground-missile) on that unsuspecting enemy tank.

Hellfire - Doing Some DamageSpeaking of firing missiles, the game also makes use of two on-screen buttons to help you make that first (and hopefully not last) kill. One to select your desired fire power and the other to (obviously) fire them. Also on the screen is a slider that lets you fly higher or lower. This is useful when cruising along the terrain where trees grow freely – you wouldn’t wanna run into one of them!

Now that we are done with the controls, let’s begin and hop in to your craft of choice. You see, Hellfire puts you into a Cold War inspired drama where you pilot one of the two available gunships and go around shooting (and blowing) things up. There’s also the occasional mission objective where you are required to rescue some POWs.

Hellfire - MI-28 HiNDWhen you begin a new game, your first task is to pick sides. I chose the USA and was assigned flight on an AH-72 “MAMBA”. Of course, this is science fiction. I wouldn’t want the CIA coming over investigating me into releasing confidential military secrets! The AH-72 MAMBA comes equipped with a 30mm AWS cannon (1200 rounds), 38 Hydra blind-fire missiles and 8 Longsword ‘fire and forget’ AGMs. If you picked the USSR side, you are given an MI-28 “HiND” to fly in – 23mm GSH cannon (940 rounds), 128 rounds of 57mm blind-fire rockets and 4 Swatter AGMs. Quite as powerful, eh?

You then proceed to your first mission briefing, which basically lets you know where you are about to fly and what are your mission objectives. The first mission was quite simple. Blow up a few radar sites, then destroy the bunkers to release the prisoners. Pick them up, and then land near a friendly helipad. That’s it.

The AH-72 is capable of carrying up to 4 passengers, while the HiND is a bit larger, capable of carrying up to 6 passengers. Also, with each prisoner that you rescue and deliver successfully back at a friendly site, your aircraft gets healed by an approximate of eight percent. Some missions would require you to destroy a few enemy sites and rescue the prisoners of war, so I would strongly suggest that you return to a friendly site to get healed once you picked up some POWs.

Hellfire - Intense ActionIf you are looking for some quick kabooming experience, then the Missions menu would suit your taste. This mode lets you choose any missions that you have successfully completed and replay them. I like the Iceland mission (mission #10) for the USA side – you are told to defend your very own tracking station. A very target rich environment, if you are fast enough to repell the enemy attack. Otherwise, it could be a very short offense.

The game comes with 16 missions of adrenaline fueled combat action which spans a global theater of war from Syria to Petropavlovsk (USA missions) and Kodiak to Skagway (USSR missions). You can choose to play on Sergeant (Easy) level and all the way to Colonel (Very Hard) if you feel like Stringfellow Hawke.

Hellfire features some of the best real-time 3D rendered environments available on an iPhone device to date. The terrain is realistic and includes trees, mountains, lakes and the likes. Animation is fluid even when there’s a lot of action on-screen. I never experienced any slowdowns when playing on my 2nd Generation iPod touch, which happens to be the fastest iPhone OS device to-date.

On the sound department, the game could actually use more realistic sound effects. I realised that both AH-72 and MI-28 produce the same sound effects when flying and firing. The flying sound effects sounded a lot like a motor and could be quite annoying at times. Machine guns and missile blasts sounded a bit better, but like said earlier, could be improved.

Hellfire - Check Your Six!Aside to the usual sound and music controls, you are also allowed to set the accelerometer sensitivity. Bonus – if you like listening to your own music when playing, this game lets you do so thru a menu called ‘Disable Audio’. This mode turns off all sound effects from the game and lets your music from your library play. Note that its not possible to have sound effects on and music off.

On my iPod touch, the accelerometer seems to be a bit wacky when returning from a saved game. The aircraft would not be controllable as usual, but just fly in circles. This occurs everytime I return to a game and can only be fixed after exiting and returning to the game a few times. I’ve reported this to Astraware and hope to see a fix coming soon.

Overall, Hellfire delivers a stunning experience which will keep you glued to your device for hours to come when compared to other chopper simulations available for the iPhone. Aside to the bug I discovered, I’ve been playing the game for hours, trying to finish it on harder and more challenging levels and am enjoying the experience so far.

Hellfire is available now from the iTunes Store for only $4.99 a copy and is published by Handmark, Inc. I shall leave you with a demo reel of the game, courtesy of Astraware and some select screenshots taken from the game.

Rating: 4.0/5.0 Taps

Hellfire - YouTube Demo Video

App Data

App Name: Hellfire v1.00.01 | Publisher: Handmark, Inc. | Purchase via: iTunes App Store @ $4.99 | Released: Jan 21, 2009 | Reviewed on: iPod touch v2.2.1

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