Preview: Comanche has Great Helicopter Action, but Don’t Expect a Sim

Screenshot: Comanche

Comanche is a game series I haven’t thought of in over a decade. So, you can imagine my surprise when THQ released into Early Access a futuristic helicopter game bearing that name. Nineteen years after the release of Comanche 4, Comanche has made its way back to PC. It’s surprising not only because the series is so old, but the RAH-66 Comanche, on which the video games were based, ceased development in 2004 to make way for the new hotness: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVS).

The storyline of Comanche follows this—and takes place in a future where UAVs are unreliable, so manned aerial vehicles make a return. But in an ironic move, your Comanche comes equipped with a drone you can pilot to get into small, man-sized spaces. And while the old Comanche series bills itself as simulation, Comanche sits in a strange midfield between arcade and hard simulation.

Screenshot: Comanche

Comanche is not-quite-sim and not-quite-arcade. If you go looking for a fast-paced arcade experience, you’ll be disappointed—and maybe even frustrated with the controls. If you go in wanting a sim, you’ll be frustrated for want of more sim-like features and considerations. Flying the helicopter feels almost like flying a helicopter in ARMA III, and is something you may struggle with picking up and playing right away, even with the optional flight assists turned on. But once you do get the hang of flying in Comanche, it’s a blast. Flying through canyons, and squeezing into tight spaces is as fun as fighting off waves of enemy helicopters and boats.

The combat itself is a little lackluster, though. You have your main autocannon, and a few special attacks, like dumbfire missiles, guided missiles, and even an auto-aim for your cannon. Aiming and flying is not the easiest, and with no independent aim on the auto gun, it makes attacking feel like a weird airplane instead of a helicopter. The ability that allows your cannon to auto aim feels like it should be the default mode. The weapons themselves feel extremely underpowered, too, with many enemies having a long time to kill.

Screenshot: Comanche

Flying the drone is a completely different story. As the unmanned drone, Comanche ends up feeling a little bit more like Descent than a helicopter game. With the drone you can get into small areas, which you will have to do a lot, to open doors by “hacking” computers. The drone has its own attacks, which are surprisingly more satisfying in drone-sized combat than the Comanche feels in full-sized combat. Though, there’s something ghoulish feeling about using the unmanned drone to enter a facility and gun down the hapless soldiers guarding it.

Since Comanche is still in Early Access, it’s a little light on content. There’s only one mission available in the single player—though that mission consists of five chapters, and took me about an hour to complete. But there’s multiplayer PvP with multiple two game modes: Blackbox and infiltration. Infiltration is objective-based 4v4 while Blackbox is straight-up team deathmatch.

Screenshot: Comanche

Comanche has a ton of potential. What you get right now is worth its Early Access price tag, especially if you want to get into the multiplayer aspects. If you have a HOTAS, you can use it—but don’t expect a simulator, even with all of the assists turned off. I’m excited to see how Comanche shapes up.


Comanche is available now on Steam Early Access, and is even 25% off until March 26th.




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