A Look at the Take On Helicopters Demo

Posted: December 2, 2011 in PC

Take On Helicopters ImageUp in the Air

Take On Helicopters Image 1Bohemia Interactive is well-known for their ARMA series of military simulations, and with Take On Helicopters they’re branching into the exciting world of civilian rotor-wing aircraft (or helicopters, in layman’s terms). The game was released in late October of this year, and Bohemia has just released a demo for whirlybird enthusiasts to get their greasy mitts on.

The demo allows you a limited number of options with which to test the game out, and lets you perform basic flight training, as well as two missions (transporting a SWAT team and moving objects around a construction site, respectively) to cut your teeth on, as well as a free-flight mode to explore the detailed Seattle setting based on real-world terrain data.

"Now to rescue that STARS team..."

Probably the first thing you’ll want to do upon starting up the demo is configure the video options to the best of your machine’s capabilities. Even on high specs, however, I was having some noticeable issues with terrain texture pop-in (think Unreal 3 Engine) and objects popping in. I fiddled with the specs to try and get smoother object acquisition, but that was the one problem I couldn’t smooth out. Buildings and trees kept manifesting out of nowhere. Other than that, the game looks pretty good, with nice water and cloud effects, and the chopper models look fantastic, with a variety of paintjobs available ranging from corporate to colorful.

The flight model is impressive. If you’re not used to flight sims, especially if you’re not used to helicopter sims (and I don’t think I’ve played a dedicated helicopter simulator since Longbow 2), it will probably feel a bit sensitive to control, but with practice it will become a joy to fly. This is what impressed me most. You can have a lot of fun challenging yourself with things like hitting higher altitudes (I think I maxed out around 17,000 feet before a disastrous spiral toward Puget Sound) or pulling a barrel roll (not so easy in a chopper). The realism is impressive, although you can crank it up and down to suit your preferences. The training missions do a lot to get you flying relatively quickly, teaching you how to start the chopper up and get in the air. I’m sure the full game offers more advanced training.

Another issue I have to bring up was that the game recognized my joystick (I’m using a Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS stick-throttle-combo, for reference), but did not have a control profile for it. That meant I had to manually set up the button mappings. Now, I don’t mind doing this for the trim and such, but it would have been nice if the program could have at least recognized the X and Y axes and not have me map them. Also, the “look around” like you would normally do with a hatswitch is really awkward – you can basically move your head a little in each direction, and not much else. Maybe it works better with a profiled stick. For all I know, the demo doesn’t have profiles for any sticks while the final game does, but I figured there should be a word of warning if you’re planning on using a joystick for the demo.

Take On Helicopters Image

"I don't know where the rotors are...but the important part is, I landed, right?"

Overall, it’s worth checking out, whether you’re a seasoned sim aficionado or just curious about flying helicopters. I think Bohemia does their best work when they can refine one aspect rather than going the exhaustive survey route ARMA takes. The Take On Helicopters demo is available on Steam and other vendors now. Check it out!

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