Ka-52 Team Alligator

Like flying an Apache, in Russia.

2_1While Russian attack copters may be derided as lower tech, pilots of KA-52 Team Alligator will find that its graphics and gameplay are by no means as mediocre. Russian atmospherics, the responsibilities of managing a squadron of KA-52 Alligators, and interesting campaigns make this a worthwhile sim. On the flip side, novel players can be annoyed at the mission designs. Campaign missions are a mixed bag that sometimes require effective squadron leadership and sometimes leave you lost wondering how to meet your objectives.

The interior of your KA-52 Alligator is nicely modeled. While the gauges aren’t especially easy to read, all of the gauge information you need is on the HUD. You can clearly read most of the multi-function display (MFD) pages on the two MFDs by panning down in the cockpit view, and you can also view these pages full screen if you have the time. The helicopter aesthetics are augmented by thick Russian accents on all of the in-game speech—in fact, you can even set all of the in-game speech to Russian, though that is probably not wise until you’ve mastered the commands, or unless you speak Russian.

Given Simis’ commitment to emphasizing gameplay over realism, it isn’t surprising that the KA52 flight model isn’t entirely convincing. Even with all of the realism options turned on, the Alligator exhibits incredible stability, both losing altitude and altering speed very reluctantly. The upside to this is that you can focus on combat—reading your MFDs and firing your weapons—without worrying that you’ll crash the first time you stop paying attention to your altitude. The downside is that the Alligator doesn’t always have the precision feel one might like when trying to hide behind hills, preparing to pounce on the enemy. With its hydraulically-trained 30mm cannon and weapons pylons capable of carrying rockets, laser-guided missiles, and anti-air missiles, the KA-52 Alligator is versatile weapons platform.

7_1KA-52 missions can be both challenging and frustrating. While the mission briefings are clear and a good effort is made to place them into the general context of the war, once you are in the air, it is not always clear how to accomplish your objectives, or more to the point, why and how it is that you haven’t accomplished your objectives. The typical mission starts, like most helicopter sim missions, by following a number of waypoints to your goal. Flying to the target area can take up to ten minutes. You can use the autopilot to get there, but – shocker – there is no time compression feature.

You’ll be flying with your weapons officer next to you, but his utility is questionable. While he does select and lock targets, and you can order him to prioritize primary targets and certain unit types, he doesn’t provide any assistance in identifying for you where in the area your primary targets are, or if the target he has locked up is a primary target or not. You’ll often be forced to do his job for him, bringing the Shkval to full screen to ensure that the target you are about to waste your valuable missile on is actually a primary target and that you have a clean shot at it. The other members of your Alligator squadron are hardly more consistent.

While KA52 does have its shortcomings, they don’t negate the fact that the program offers excellent graphics, a friendly interface, and a smooth ride that may be a good entrée into attack helicopters for the casual sim pilot.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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