Air Missions: Hind | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Air Missions: Hind | Review | Switch

by Danny Bivens

The "Strike" series for modern times?
Air Missions: Hind is an action combat flight simulator that puts players in the cockpit of various Russian Hind helicopters. The game originally found its way to early access back in 2016 and eventually came to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well. In early June 2020, publisher Pikii announced that they would be publishing a Switch version of the game and releasing it on the eShop and also physically in Japan on July 30. I’m a bit of a sucker for combat games and shooters, so I decided to give this one a go. But you’re probably wondering, how does the game play on the Switch? That’s what I’m here to talk about.

There are a number of modes in the game. A Campaign, Instant Action, Test Flight and Instant Mission. The latter options will get you right into the cockpit, however, you’ll probably be spending a majority of your time in the Campaign and the 18 missions that are included in the package. Missions themselves are varied having you do a number of things. Here, you’ll track down and destroy a number of enemy vehicles or soldiers, demolish bridges or communication towers, destroy ships, evacuate comrade soldiers and even fight other helicopters. It probably sounds pretty standard considering the kind of game that this is, but I still felt like the missions and the various objectives were generally put together pretty well and more importantly, fun.
Air Missions: Hind also has online play. Unfortunately after several attempts, I was not able to connect with any other players. In the one time I was able to get into a lobby, the other player must have been away from their console as I just kind of sat there waiting to get connected. Even after checking the Leaderboards, only one person seemed to be there. It’s a shame, but Hind doesn’t seem like it got much fanfare for its release here in Japan.

There are a few different options for control - Casual, Novice and Pilot. I found the “Casual” option to be finicky, but felt right at home with “Novice.” Here, you use the right stick to control your altitude and the left stick to go forward or backward. Weapons are here in spades. Before setting out on your mission, you are able to, of course, choose from a number of different craft (and paint jobs) as well as up to three different kind of weapons. These range from rockets, bombs, to a more powerful gun and more. You can cycle through your weapons during the missions with L. There are also some missions that will put you in gunner chair of the chopper, which was pretty cool. What wasn’t cool was the fact that you couldn’t change to invert the aiming - that was kind of annoying, but I got over it. Overall, I’m no military expert or anything, but the controls and general combat all felt pretty realistic in both sound and effectiveness.
Graphically, Air Missions on Switch is a bit unbalanced. The helicopters themselves look realistic, featuring different designs and a lot of attention to detail. The cockpit modes also give you a great look inside these flying fortresses. Explosions look amazing and really pack a punch mixed in with the rumble as you blow your enemies to oblivion. While these aspects are great, the terrain, buildings and enemies have a very low-poly look. Most of the time, it’s not a huge deal since you’ll likely be racing around the stages on attack runs at relatively high speeds. However, for the moments when you have to slow down or during some of the cutscenes, you will definitely notice the sub-par look. Not only that, but the game does suffer from some pop-in here and there as well. Even with all of that said, Air Missions does run at a pretty consistent framerate, which is a plus in my book. Playing in handheld mode also feels and looks on par with playing on the big screen.

In terms of environments and stage variety, there are a number of locations that you’ll be visiting throughout the game. Deserts, a sparsely populated cityscape, a jungle and the cold waters of the Arctic Ocean are all here. Like I mentioned above, they may look a little bit unimpressive, however, they get the job done and do accurately portray what they’re trying get at.
I’m not going to lie to you - Air Missions can be a very challenging game. While the first few missions likely won’t give you much trouble (some of the training missions can be a bit fiddly, but thankfully they can be skipped), but the game does have a difficulty curve. You’ll be asked to take your helicopter through some tight spaces while flying low, land on top of buildings to extract your comrades and even land on a moving aircraft carrier. With some practice, it’s doable, but I could honestly see this game being very frustrating for some. Mid-mission checkpoints ARE helpful - if you get blown away, you can restart mid-mission. Even then, sometimes it won’t be enough. Overall, it seems pretty fair to me but it can be pretty hard.

I did run into a few bugs during my time with the Air Missions. In one of the stages during a mission transition, all of the sound of my helicopter became mysteriously quiet while enemy fire still raged on. It did nothing to effect the gameplay and seemed to happen at the same point no matter what. Another time, the game just simply crashed out of nowhere. I haven’t been able to repeat that bug. To be fair, these are few and far between, but be aware that these bugs are there.
On a side note, for all you collectors out there, Air Missions: Hind is available right now physically in Japan only. Obviously, by the time you read this review that may very well change. At any rate, the package is nothing to write home about. You have a picture of the flagship Hind on the front of the package, additional information about the game on the back, and the inside cover features a cool jungle backdrop with some helicopters firing away. In terms of language options, this game features English, Russian and Japanese voices/text with additional support for Mandarin, Cantonese text.

I ended up enjoying Air Missions: Hind a lot more than I thought I would. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the review, I am kind of a sucker when it comes to military combat games/movies, and the experience is here is a quick romp that doesn’t take itself to seriously. Although I did have fun with the game, there are some issues. The graphics aren’t great, but the game runs smoothly. The missions can be challenging, but are generally fair with a few exceptions. If you can forgive these things, this game might be right for you. Everyone else, you’re better off waiting for a sale or leaving this one on the store shelf.

Final Score: 6.5

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