Are you looking for the best helicopter games out there? Well, if you do, then you’re at the right place. Unlike fixed wing aircraft (planes), helicopters are powered by the rotors, which allows them to take off and land vertically. Other unique attributes such as hovering and lateral flying makes helicopters much more useful in urban and remote areas than an aircraft.
Before we start with the list, we should discuss about the nature of the game first. There are basically 2 types of helicopter simulator available in the market; military and civilian or commercial. While military simulations are more restricted in nature, many fans find them entertaining due to their mission styles and orientation.
Without any further blah blah… Let’s start with 12 best helicopter games that you should try.
12. Thunder Blade
Platform: Atari ST, Arcade, Commodore 64
‘Old is Gold’: we all agree with this popular saying. It’s been more than 30 years since the first release of Thunder Blade, an arcade based flight game. In the game, the player controls a fully armed helicopter with a mission to destroy enemy buildings and tanks in order to protect his nation. You can play it online.
11. Gunship 2000
Platform: DOS, Windows
Initially released in 1991, Gunship 2000 is one of the earliest helicopter simulation games available right now. It is an enhanced version of its predecessor Gunship which was released in 1986. The user starts the game by selecting a combat theater, then choosing between single or campaign missions.
You’ll have access to only one helicopter in initial stages. This is will change as you make progress in the game. Later stages are filled with a squadron of helicopters that will keep your interest alive. You can use different real-life war tactics such as nap-of-the-earth (low altitude flying) and pop attacks, based on terrain.
While the game has many flaws including incorrect descriptions of helicopter models and flight avionics plus clumsy controls, a wide variety of weapons and various in game features does somehow make up for it given its age.
10. Gunship Battle2 VR
Virtual reality is taking the gaming industry by storm. Maybe it’s the right time to equip yourself with the right tools. Yes, I am talking about the VR setup. Anyway, Gunship Battle2 VR is an immersive helicopter simulation game, in which you play the role of a former secret agent/ pilot named Dylan.
Due to a top secret military project, he has lost almost everything, his family, his identity and even his memory. And now, the fate of the world rests upon his shoulders and the experimental gunship is his only weapon. The game provides a complete VR experience.
9. Enemy Engaged: Comanche vs Hokum
Platform: Windows, Macintosh
Enemy Engaged: Comanche vs Hokum is one of the two original helicopter simulation games from Enemy Engaged series. The game was praised by many critics during the time of its launch, with some even stating the best simulation game of the new millennia.
Compared to its predecessor, the game features an improved AI and a stand-out graphics. For those who are wondering, Comanche and Hokum are NATO assigned call signs for American and Russian attack helicopters.
8. Jungle Strike
Platform: MS DOS, Game Boy, PlayStation Portable
Jungle Strike is the direct sequel to bestselling game Desert Strike. While it’s a straight out Shoot ’em up game, a considerable amount of strategy is also needed. As a player, your main objective in this game is to stop enemy attacks with the help of an attack helicopter (Comanche) and occasionally a motorbike. Jungle Strike received a worldwide acclaim for its superb design, flawless graphics and controls.
7. Take On Helicopters
Take On helicopters Gameplay
Take On Helicopters is a civilian helicopter game, featuring three broad classes of helicopters; light, medium and heavy. Apart from the traditional career mode, users can also engage in time-trials, challenges and multiplayer modes. It also features a powerful mission editor.
The story revolves around a Seattle-based business family (fictional), which is having a difficult time keeping their helicopter business afloat after passing of their family head. As a player, you will take the role of Tom Larkin, a civilian pilot and try to save the company with your brother Joe Larkin.
Overall the game is all rounded flight simulator, fairly capable of entertaining gamers, especially those who are new to this genre.
6. Desert Strike
Platform: DOS, macOS, Amiga, Game Boy
Desert Strike is 90s popular single player shooting game, in which the player takes control of an Apache helicopter and engage in various missions, from hostage rescue to attack enemy installations in hostile grounds. The game took its inspiration from the Gulf War and portray a battle between antagonist General Kilbaba and the United States.
The Apache is equipped with a machine gun and powerful missiles. While you can certainly add more powerful weapons, these additions can decrease the helicopter’s carrying potential, i.e, more deadly the weapon, the fewer it can be carried. So a player must make appropriate weapon choices.
5. Apache: Air Assault
A still from Apache: Air Assault
Platform: Windows, PlayStation, Xbox, Online
Apache: Air Assault is a combat style flight simulator featuring a number of customizable Apache helicopter variants. The core objective in this game is to try and stop various terrorist attacks (fictional) in unstable regions of the world. The game can be played in both single player and multiplayer mode. Both IGN and GameSpot gave Apache a 7.5 out of 10.
4. DCS: Black Shark 2
DCS: Black Shark 2 is a standalone simulation in the vast DCS (Digital Combat Simulator) world featuring the legendary Russian single seat attack helicopter Kamov Ka-50. The game is known for its realistic graphics and maneuverability.
The sim allows pilots/players to easily convert the helicopter for different roles. It includes advanced automation features, such as state of the art targeting system, guided missile system, mounted targeting and autopilot.
Apart from the Black Shark, you can also enjoy emulations of Mil-Mi-8MTV2, SA342 Gazelle and UH-1H Huey by buying additional DCS modules separately.
Bell 412 Image Courtesy: Stuart Cassie
FlightGear is a free, open-source flight simulator. The project’s aim is to create a sophisticated flight simulator, which can be used in research or academic purposes. But the beauty of an open-source software is that anybody can use it on Windows, Mac, Linux and FreeBSD platforms.
The sim features over 20,000 real world airports with accurate runway markings and elevations. You can start with trainer helicopter the Robinson R22, especially if you are a beginner. Then you can move to light utility helicopters such as The Alouette III. Then there is Sikorsky S-76C and Chinook CH-47, a twin engine super heavy lifter for the experts.
The only weakness that I can think of is its lack of realistic virtual cockpit.
2. Microsoft Flight Simulator X
Microsoft Flight Simulator X or FSX is an award winning flight simulation game developed by Microsoft Game Studios exclusively for windows. The original game only features two helicopters; the rookie Robinson R22 and Agusta Westland AW101, however you can always use add-ons.
While the helicopter simulation on FSX might not be as accurate as you expected it to be, they certainly worth your time. You can download many well known helicopters from manufactures such as Bell, Eurocopter and Boeing. It’s available on Nemeth Designs and Hovercontrol.
Bell 407 in X-Plane 11
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Laminar Research’s X-Plane is packed with numerous civilian as well as military class aircraft. One thing that separates X-plane with other sims is its revolutionary aerodynamic model known as theblade element theory.
Ordinarily, flight simulators emulate the performance of a real world aircraft (drag and lift) with the help of predefined data. But those simulators are unable to emulate an aircraft performance where predefined data are not available. X-Plane’s Blade element theory on the other hand, improve the simulation by individually evaluating each and every part of an aircraft.
Furthermore, it features a unique plugin architecture that enabled users to build their customized modules. This effectively extends the software’s functionality.