Official Guide to Jane's AH-64D Longbow

This was published by Origin in 1996 and is now scanned in and on the list. It has to be said that the Longbow series and F-15 were not my type of game, which doesn’t make me especially interested in reading their respective guides. I’ll still have a quick look at them for the sake of completeness and I’m not going to make the mistake of leaving them all until the end this time.

The manual for Longbow was sizeable in its own right and not really much smaller than this guide. The guide is a lot more specific to what is needed in the game and lighter on the technical details though. It starts with a lengthy series of tips about every aspect of flying the Longbow and planning your missions. There is a lot to remember here but it’s all briefly presented and pertinent.

When it gets to the campaign guides, it actually starts off as something of a tutorial and uses the early missions to introduce the skills you will need to play the game. This is a great idea for less skilled pilots like myself and the sort of thing I could have done with at the time. I’d probably have got a lot more out of the game with this to teach me the basics. The in-game tutorials weren’t bad but I was still left not knowing what I was doing when I started the game itself.

After the early missions, it settles down into a more standard mission guide. The advice given is still very specific and just what you would need to get through the game. I’ve always been a little skeptical about how needed the mission guides were in some of the other games but there is enough going on in Longbow to justify them. There is full detail about altering your waypoints to avoid heavy resistance which would have been particularly useful. This was not a game where you could blindly follow the preset route all the time.

There are a few interviews to end the book. The first is with an actual Longbow pilot who gives some flying tips which mirror a lot of the tips given earlier in the book. I’d have been curious to know what he thought of the game but they never asked the question (or didn’t like the answer and didn’t publish it). There is then another talk with Andy Hollis who describes the creation of the game and how he ended up at Origin and created the team to work on it. Longbow apparently started out as a far more arcade oriented game called Chopper Attack which would have been released simultaneously on 3DO. The collapse of the 3DO resulted in a more detailed PC only game which led into the full-on simulation we ended up with. There are some superfluous Jane’s articles on the Longbow to finish the guide which would probably appeal to anyone who is more into flying helicopters than myself.

This is a well put together book and I expect I would have enjoyed the game a lot more if I’d bought this a few months earlier. It almost makes me want to go and have a go at playing the game again but I think I’d soon change my mind if I actually fired it up again.

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