Climb into the cockpit - master switch on. Get ready to take to the skies in this remarkable helicopter simulator.
In Gunship 2000, you are flying a variety of helicopters ranging from scout helis to transports (fancy a Blackhawk?) to the state-of-the-art Apache Longbow and Comanche. You can fly a variety of mission types, including cargo runs, Search & Rescue, Search & Destroy and pinpoint attacks. These can either be single missions or part of a larger campaign.
In the office you have a roster where you can select your pilot's name and squadron. This is also where you will keep track of his rank and medals earned. In addition, you have a world map where you choose whether you want to fly in Europe or in the Middle East. Lastly, you have your orders for the next flight, together with intelligence reports giving you an idea of what opposition to expect.
When you start out a new career, you have access to most of the helis in the game. You also have to fly and fight on your own. However, by reaching higher ranks, not only do you unlock two more helicopters, you also get wingmen to help you out. Just as you can choose your heli and its loadout, so can you choose your wingmen's helis and loadouts. Put together the flight to your liking that will best tackle the upcoming mission! How cool is that?!
When Gunship 2000 came out, it offered something that I haven't seen in any other helicopter simulator: wingmen you could actually control through orders; wingmen who wouldn't just race off to a pre-set flight plan, like in Apache 95 or Hind. This alone not only makes your wingmen actually useful, but flying while ordering your wingmen to join in on your pop-up attack makes it a lot more enjoyable as well.
Once you start a mission, you have access to the mission area map. Here you will see your loadout status and target areas, and you can see and plot your waypoints. The map is also where you give your wingmen their orders. It's all very easy to grasp and simple to use.
Let's face it: The sounds aren't all that great - just primitive beeps and *crash* sounds for explosions. No surround system here.
If you bear in mind that this game came out when computers didn't have much computing power for breathtaking scenery, the graphics aren't too bad; they are primitive but effective. You get your sharply edged mountains to hide behind, roads to navigate by, and the occasional tree or house. It's not comparable to today's games but it gets the job done and, if you're looking at vintage simulators, getting the job done is what counts, right?
Again, due to lack of computing power back in the day, the flight physics are close to non-existent, and don't expect true-to-life avionics. Before each flight, you can set the realism level for flight physics (arcade or less arcade), enemy behaviour, and more. At maximum realism, you get a heli that will somewhat behave like the real thing, like losing altitude when you pitch the nose down and so forth. Though, again, the flight realism is not going to teach you to fly the real deal; it's simple and it gets the job done. It's a vintage sim, and if that's your thing, then none of this should bother you.
Furthermore, the lack of truly realistic physics makes this game more enjoyable if you just want to buzz around shooting up stuff rather than struggle with something as unstable as a heli. Avionics are also simplified, so it should be far more enjoyable for the less-than-hardcore flight enthusiast. The variety of helis and missions, together with the tactical bit, adds to this game. All in all, I am willing to say Gunship 2000 is a very fine vintage simulator.
Although this game is playable by using the keyboard alone, it is recommended that you use a flight stick, if only for immersion. The game supports various (now obsolete) joysticks, but the standard 2-axis, 1-button joystick can also be used. I have a Saitek X-45, and none of the 4-axis options worked for me, but using the 2-axis, 1-button option worked well. Of course, by using the joystick's own software you can programme your programmable joystick and map various functions.