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DCS: Black Shark PC Review - -

Gameplay 9.0
Graphics 9.0
Sound 9.0
Value 9.0
Developer: Eagle Dynamics
Review Date:
February 2009
Edwin Millheim
Classification: G


DCS: Black Shark

Ironically enough, I was actually sitting around musing about an article I was going to write about “Where have all the flight sims gone?” Not those arcade style over the shoulder games for the casual gamer mind you, I'm talking about the hard core flight and air combat simulation games. The flight/air combat simulation game caters to a niche audience like no other. Those folks that demand things not only look darn good, but switches and dials in the cockpit do what they are supposed to do in the real world craft the game models. To say the least, the real eye catching worthy air combat flight simulators have been scarce, to none for several years now. These style of games costs a lot to create and even more to get it right in the eyes of the gamers out there that long for them, and they don't always turn a profit for the companies that make them. These and many other reasons are why we have seen a scarcity of the air combat flight simulators.

So imagine my surprise when my fellow Impulse Gamer asked me to take a look at a air combat game based on a Russian Helicopter. Black Shark modeling the Kamov:50. I am here to tell you, this is one shark that has plenty of teeth. While such a hard core simulation game has a niche audience, and may scare away some of the more casual gamers; those that don't give this combat sim a chance are missing out on a spectacularly dynamic military attack helicopter simulation. Does it have it's ups and downs? (No pun intended) Yes, it does. Eagle Dynamics has brought a thoroughly modeled attack helicopter to gamers everywhere in the form of Black Shark. While there are several options to make the game easier to play, it's by no means a game for a casual jaunt. With several of the options switched for beginners, a player can of course fly around and blast a few things with limited knowledge of some of the basic, if not essential controls.

To really embrace the full simulation side of the game though, a player will be learning a surprising work load of controls both for just getting the craft off the ground and keeping it in flight. To it's weapons systems and defense systems. Other than the eye bugging 400 page PDF manual, the game does have tutorials, but they are not very interactive. The tutorials are more or less self running in- cockpit lectures. While these are pretty cool in some respects, they are not engaging as they could be. The player is just there for the ride and lecture, there is not much interaction. In these cases the pause key is your friend, especially if you want to take notes of any kind.

The campaigns in the game are passable and offer enough opposition and variety to keep it interesting at least for a few play troughs. The missions range from patrol, search and destroy and surprisingly escort missions. The escort missions are interesting in that the player is tasked for instance in one mission, to safe guard a convoy. Having some of your wingman scout ahead does not seem to yield any results, the enemy don't seem to spawn until the convoy gets to a certain point and an ambush is launched. Kind of silly that the flight has to ask for permission to fire in the middle of a battle mind you. Any pilot under fire would freaking light the enemy up, not call out on the radio for permission to return fire. So don't forget to tell your flight to engage the enemy.

Black Shark comes with a level editor as well, which with the help of an active on line community should stretch the life of this realistic air combat simulator months from now. If Eagle Dynamics can ride the wave, they may be able to stretch the life of Black Shark to years, if they plan to do add ons to this very rewarding game. At press time from what we have gathered from other sources, there are hints about working on a game with the A10 aircraft, and the American Apache attack helicopter.

The graphics for Black Shark are outstanding, from the interior of the cockpit to the surrounding terrain the helicopter itself and other vehicles and buildings. All well done. The Alienware system ran the game full graphics and looked spectacular. Sounds are all done well from the rip of the machine guns on the helicopter, the launch of a missile or rockets, even the impacts when close enough to hear them are pleasingly sharp with a subtle sound of debris.

Black Shark harkens back to a not so long line of spectacular air combat simulations. There are plenty of air combat games and simulations out there, but the list of them that are truly spectacular is short, Black Shark can I feel be proudly counted as one of them. While it may not raise the bar per say, Black Shark is a solid air combat simulation game that many simulation aficionados have been waiting for.

Have fun, play games.
Edwin Millheim
Impulse Gamer 

Correction - each new aircraft will be a stand-alone product and NOT an add-on.

However in multiplayer mode (LAN or Internet), an owner of Black Shark will be able to fly in the same world and battlefield as the A-10 pilot. I think I would prefer to be in the A-10 to survive!

We are currently creating more missions and campaigns which a user will be able to download for free from our website.
This section should go live in April.

In addition we have a patch in preparation to further extend longevity..
See: [Editor]


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