Coala (Second Review)

Title		Coala (Second Review)
Game Type	Flight Sim
Players		1
ompany		Empire
Compatibility	AGA
Submission	Richard Byrne

 Coala is a helecopter flight sim, like most others it puts you in
command of a gunship and presents you with a number of missions, each with
a different emphasis on the type of unit that you may encounter. You can
choose your gunship, armament, map, time of day and scenario.

 Empire was given this game when it was mostly complete and left it much
alone, but they really should have added a more rigid structure to the
missions. You see in Coala you choose your start point (choose an eastern
`copter, start on their base) as opposed to actually fixing an allegence,
and are free to chose your side by shooting down whoever you want to be
against first. Many reviewers at the time said that this made the game
seem somewhat `thin`, and after a few days of consideration, I`d say that
I agree.

 The game itself is nice, with no bugs that I can remember, all the (4)
`copters have slight differences either in handling or speed. Weapons
choice is made by selecting one of three preset configs, each with a
certain kind of target in mind, but I find that the 16 Kedge/Hellfire one
can be used for almost anything. In the battlefield there are an equal
number of east and western forces, which set about each other with or
without you untill one side's combatant units are eradicated. It was while
watching the game play itself out using the F5 key to cycle the unit view,
that I noticed the games biggest fault. The units of one side have an
exact equivalent on the other, however although all the point values
remain the same I can`t help but notice that the AI blatantly favours the
west, making the game somewhat easier if you side with them. Other
irritating parts include no collision detection between computer
controlled units, missiles which just decide to miss despite a straight
shot and a good lock, SAMs which cannot be decoyed, enemies with infinite
fuel and shots, and poor shooting/targetting AI which will have two tanks
try to shoot each other through a building till something intervenes,
dogfights which consist entirely of planes flying continually in a circle
trying to get behind each other (remember these are generally equal so
they just lock into a pattern same as the tanks) and choosing the nearest
target (ALWAYS a transport)as opposed to the nearest threat or important

 There is also the UN, civs and ambulances to worry about in some
missions, shooting them, or friendlies, will see you immediately on your
own and an enemy to everyone. This means certain death as you are a target
to all, and you have no base to get fixed or resupplied at.

 Graphically Coala is fast and functional, using textureless polygons for
the units and most of the scenery, but it all moves smoothly on qulte a
low spec machine, and tends to work well on exotic systems too. Worth
mentioning is the view pan/zoom function of the RMB, used mostly to look
around in the cockpit and aim your guns without changing the fight of the
helecopter. The cockpit itself is all functioning lights, dials, guages
and radar, although without texturing or labeling they will take a while
to learn - I quite like the sparse minimal clutter approach. The sound is
much as the graphics - nothing special, but a cut above the necessary.

 Quite where to rate Coala depends on what you expect or want/want from a
game. If you`re after a  GS2k style sim (I didn`t like it) then don`t
bother, but if, like me, you would use it for a short term bit-better-than
arcade distraction then get hold of a copy - there's plenty of missions
(about 30 IIRC) and then you can throw any combination of units together
using the custom scenaro generator.

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