I’ve spent a good few hours ploughing my way through Longbow 2’s campaigns today. Most of the missions have similar structures to those I’ve mentioned earlier with reconnaissance and attack objectives, although you do occasionally get something a little different thrown in. The first of these was supporting ground troops who are advancing to a set position.
This is basically an escort mission where I have to keep my forces alive. The tanks look quite nice and throw up a plume of dust as they advance. You even get to see them fighting it out with the opposition if you let them get close enough.
This turned out to be the final mission of the first campaign.
There is a brief cutscene showing a Longbow, entirely unnecessarily slicing off the tail wing of a downed enemy chopper.
Then it’s straight back to base and time to pick another campaign. The second campaign is rather boringly set in exactly the same map and scenario, except I’m up against Russian equipment this time.
I do get a mission sort I’ve not flown before and this is probably the only mission I fly in the Blackhawk in all 3 campaigns. I have to fly behind enemy lines and drop off a surveillance squad.
A number of missions later and this campaign is also over. From my point of view it made little difference being up against different equipment. I expect I would have noticed a difference in expert mode and it would have been harder but it was basically more of the same in easy. The final cutscene is almost identical although with a different helicopter and it’s slightly extended.
That just leaves campaign number 3. This is where CD #2 comes in and it actually has an introductory cutscene showing a news report which states that Azerbaijan is being invaded by the Iranians. We, of course, have to go in and kick them out again.
This final campaign comes with a new menu screen and a new set of textures. Several sets in fact as it often pauses to decompress a new lot at the start of a mission.
The textures are certainly greener and overall an improvement on what I’ve seen before, although still horribly lacking in detail close up. The main difference is the terrain is nowhere near as flat and there are mountains all over the place. This makes flying a lot more challenging, even in easy. In expert mode, I have little doubt that this campaign would require some serious skill and strategy.
The other main difference is that it seems to be much darker at night, forcing me to use my infra-red. The game definitely looks better like this with the darker graphics masking the lack of detail.
The campaign missions are the same sort of thing for the most part. I do get a couple of missions like the one above where I have to laser a target so that a bomber can come in and destroy it. There are also some patrol missions where I just have to protect an area for a given amount of time. It’s all variations on a theme really but it probably represents everything you would have to do as a pilot in a real conflict.
Near the end of the campaign, there is a news report saying that we are close to capturing the strategically critical town of Stephanakert.
And a couple of missions after that the final cutscene to end the game where we capture the town and the Iranians surrender.
Longbow 2 seems to me to be a game that deserves to have a lot of time spent on it, by someone who is more interested in flying helicopters than I am. I honestly think you could spend months mastering this if you were prepared to put the effort in and I know I’ve only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. I’m impressed with the overall realism of the simulation in every aspect. If I was to be critical, I think the biggest flaw I can see is that I never got a feel of how the overall battle was going. There were text briefings giving the status of certain enemy units but I’d just like to have seen the overall objectives more clearly. I felt like I was blindly flying missions with no idea of whether the end was in sight or not. I expect a pilot would be little wiser in a real war so it’s not a big deal.
The graphics in the game grew on me a little once I got to the final campaign. For it’s day I’m sure they were about as good as it got. It’s an impressive game all round, but not one that holds much appeal for me which is unfortunate since I still have another simulation to play in F-15. At least a jet fighter sim will be a little different. After playing Longbow 1, this did feel like more of the same.
Next up, it’s going to be a game that almost slipped through the net: Transland.