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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Whirlwind over Vietnam (PC)

Developers Evolved Games brings players back to the height of the Vietnam war with the release of Whirlwind Over Vietnam. This release is a realistic helicopter simulator for the PC. Whirlwind takes place during the middle of the la Drang Valley campaign of 1965 and allows you to pilot the famous Huey helicopter. Players can pilot their chopper through a variety of missions and call on both the Army and Marines. Whirlwind allows you to set the game's realism to arcade or simulation modes, allowing gamers of all abilities to play. Whirlwind's cinematic approach and attention to detail makes this a solidly entertaining combat simulation.

Set during the height of the 1960's most controversial conflict, Evolved Games' Whirlwind Over Vietnam is a solidly entertaining helicopter simulation that brings you right into some of the most dangerous and exciting confrontations of the war. With ten unique single player missions, your objectives including fire support, fire coordination and seek and destroy missions. These give you lots of variety during the game, and you can also choose other variable. Most of your mission objectives are laid out clearly on the game's HUD and its interface is intuitive and easy to understand. During the game, players can choose from different positions in the chopper's cockpit including Pilot, Co-Pilot and Gunner. This plays a huge role in how the game unfolds and each position you select offers a completely different set of requirements and options. You can also call on a variety of ground based vehicles such as tanks and jeeps for support, which adds more depth and realism to each mission Whirlwind's variety is further enhanced by the missions themselves, which are quite challenging. The controls are a little bit complex at first, but become more intuitive and easy to use once you get the hang of it. It takes some practice to get used to piloting the chopper, but it definitely becomes easier as time goes on. The earlier missions are fairly easy to beat, but Whirlwind's later stages become significantly more difficult to beat. While it's not excessively difficult, the game requires some effort and concentration to beat, and you'll definitely need some skill and luck in order to survive.

The game's graphics engine is fairly solid and is complimented by numerous cut scenes that are cinematic in presentation and approach. The game's visuals are quite impressive with realistic renderings of the Vietnamese jungles that offer a decent draw-distance. The game's developers have done an excellent job in recreating the look of the era, and each of the military vehicles and copters is rendered realistically with authentic structure and layout. Adding to the sense of realism are the layouts of each level and style of the cockpit controls. This approach emphasizes that you need to learn what different things do before you can fully command your vehicle. Beginner and novice players can also select from several auto-pilot modes to make things easier. This is probably the mode most casual players will use and allows you to focus on the task at hand without drowning in the details. You can also use this mode to view the action from outside of your helicopter, which sometimes helps to put the missions in better perspective and can also be helpful if you want to locate enemy positions at certain points during the missions. Whichever approach you decide to use, Whirlwind Over Vietnam offers satisfyingly authentic gameplay that helps to immerse you into the action at hand.

The game's AI is also impressive and features a number of persistent non-playable characters who make recurring appearances during the course of the game. Each mission unfolds like a mini-movie and has a distinct look and feel that brings you into the action. The game's authenticity is impressive on a number of fronts, and this well-polished combat title should please those who enjoy this type of thing. While the gameplay is solid and the design is well-executed, the overall impact isn't quite as impressive as you'd expect, since Whirlwind feels a little bit dry and flat in some areas such as dialogue and plotting. There really aren't any surprises here which make for a somewhat predictable experience. 

However, the game succeeds in carrying out it's mission and delivers a solidly entertaining simulation experience. While many games have traversed the well-worn Vietnamese jungles, Whirlwind's focus on the helicopters and strategy helps to make it stand out from the pack. Its historic accuracy is probably the biggest draw for gamers but its mix of realistic machinery and cinematic flair makes for an immersive and entertaining simulation. The visuals are solid, if unspectacular and do an excellent job of brining the feel of the war to life. Varying difficulty settings allow hardcore sim-fanatics and casual gamers alike to get into the game. Overall, Whirlwind Over Vietnam is a solidly entertaining release that offers the solid play mechanics and authenticity that players have come to expect from the genre.

- Michael Palisano


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