Air Ranger: Rescue Helicopter
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# *********** # A FAQ/WALKTHROUGH # AIR RANGER # # # # by -Ask- # by -ludwiggame- ************** (Version 1.1.) ??? ***** CONTENTS: ***** 1.INTRODUCTION 1.1. About this FAQ 1.2. About Simulators 1.3 About Helicopters and Air Ranger 1.4. Controlling a Helicopter 1.4.1. Torque 1.4.2. Moving within 3 Dimensions 184.108.40.206. The Cyclic Lever 220.127.116.11. The Collective Lever 18.104.22.168. The Pedals 1.4.3. The relatively slow Speed of a Helicopter 1.4.4. The relatively low Weight of a Helicopter 1.4.5. Judging Distances 2.THE GAME 2.1. The Story 2.2. The Helicopters 2.3. The Controls 2.3.1. EASY, NORMAL, REAL 2.3.2. The Radio Control 2.3.3. The Speed of Responding 2.3.4. Fundamental Problems and: Possible Solutions 2.4. The Cameras 2.4.1. Changing the Angles 2.4.2. Using the Cameras ***** < START OF THE ACTUAL WALKTHROUGH > ***** 2.5. The Star Coins 2.5.1. Basics 2.5.2. Locations 2.6. The Missions 2.6.1. General Tactics 2.6.2. FIRST STAGE (San Felnando) 2.6.3. SECOND STAGE (White Cliff) 2.6.4. THIRD STAGE (Missoula Mts.) 2.6.5. FOURTH STAGE (Hickory Canyon) 3.CONCLUSION 4.AIR RANGER/AIR RANGER 2 - A MINI SYNOPSIS 5.VERSIONS/UPDATES 6.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 7.COPYRIGHT 1.INTRODUCTION 1.1. ABOUT THIS FAQ This is - as far as I know - the first FAQ for this game. Air Ranger came out in Japan in March 2001. It has considerable depth, nice graphics, it has a decent loading speed (compared to other helicopter games), and the concept of the game - steering a rescue helicopter - is interesting enough to justify the existence of a game like that. Still - nobody seems to care much about it: No guides and only a handful of reviews - most of them negative. I have played through the game several times and am convinced by now that this game is worth to be played, and that it deserves a FAQ, despite the seemingly negative impression it made. By writing this FAQ I hope to be able to show how you can deal with the particular problems of this game and actually can start enjoying it. (If you want to skip the theoretical explanations and get to the actual 'walkthrough', go to the paragraph 2.5. - that is the place where the details of the game are going to be explained from.) 1.2. ABOUT SIMULATORS There are quite a few games for both PSX and PS 2, which I have played and enjoyed, but in my opinion amongst them there are only two games, which rightly deserve the title 'simulator'. One of them is Air Ranger. Gran Turismo is the other one. I am not a helicopter pilot myself. So, what entitles me, to make such a bold statement? The point of a simulator - and that is what sets it apart from other games - is to give an experience which is as close as possible to the real thing. It is therefore not possible to sacrifice too many aspects of the real thing, for example the fact that you will have to go through a rather long period of learning. That this is true for the GT games I don't have to prove, I am sure everybody tried his/her hand at it at some time. Since Air Ranger is a much lesser known game, I will try to explain the whole game play as quickly as possible. I promise, that in the end -if you follow me patiently through some possibly lengthy explanations- you will understand, why I think, Air Ranger IS a simulator. You will see that it is a difficult game, but not an impossible one! (There will be the distinct possibility that you start to play it (again), and even get to like it!) 1.3. ABOUT HELICOPTERS AND ABOUT AIR RANGER The biggest problem of steering a helicopter is, that you have to move within three dimensions. That is also true for conventional planes, but the significant difference is the speed of changing within these dimensions. Planes will usually gain/loose height in a considerable slow pace, giving the pilot enough time to concentrate on the right/left dimension. A helicopter can ascent/descent, move forward/backward and turn right/left at the same time, all movements having almost the same speed! This gives the helicopter a huge advantage over the plane; at the same time it increases the technical demands on the pilot considerably. Which means: A helicopter game with the intent to simulate the experience of controlling a helicopter will be not an easy game. That is certainly true for Air Ranger. And it is also most likely the reason why so many people do not like the game: I have asked people, who own the game, and the most frequent opinion was, that the game was too difficult, quite frustrating and at the same time boring. If you try to clear one of the levels, you have to agree with that judgment at first: You fly for quite some time without any real demands on your skills and without any special events. Anybody can do that almost at once! The helicopter seems to respond somewhat late to the controls - but that is easily blamed to the game. (Wrongly!) Anyway - there will be no crash. (Not yet!) Easy! Boring!! Then, after having arrived at your destination, you descent (which takes ages!!), and if you get closer to the target you become suddenly rather busy: You realize that you are approaching the target much too fast! Your angle is also not very promising. So you try to correct all these things at the same time, and as more you correct as more your machine continues executing exactly the opposite movements! By now you are fiddling with the controls like a madman, the heli starts swinging like crazy, hits trees, walls, people , you start to curse that stupid game and - your first helicopter wreck is completed ! Some people now throw their controller out of the window, others do it after the second try. It is only natural to get angry at the game (I certainly did!). The problem is: That is exactly what happens, when you fly a helicopter without knowing anything about flying, and ESPECIALLY about flying a helicopter! (The effect of getting your aircraft into uncontrollable swinging and swaying movements is also a major problem for people, training at a real jet simulator for the first time! The reason for it is the lacking knowledge about the inertia of an aircraft. An aircraft will only change its way after some time! If you start jerking the controls into different directions, the plane will start to do exactly those swinging and swaying motions. Professional jet pilots obviously use a different approach: Usually a jet plane doesn't fly that way. The problem seems to be with the pilot, not with the steering instruments! The same thing applies to helicopters: If your helicopter starts to behave erratically, it is not a problem of the helicopter's steering instruments! The problem is the lacking knowledge about the principles of steering a helicopter.) A quick look at the other simulator: the GT series is much more popular than Air Ranger. Still - there are surprisingly many people who do not like it and soon stopped playing it! It can't be because of the graphics. It has enough depth, and it is constantly challenging - nobody races even half of the first circuit without accident! But, it is also real! Which means: Difficult! You cannot pilot a F1 car around a racing circuit right from the beginning (...as you can do in most other racing games). You have to start by steering a modest Daihatsu Mira through two and a half turns at a speed of 27mph. And you are forced to take quite a lot of license tests, before you are allowed to show up on the more demanding courses! And you just don't have the money at first, to make up for lacking skills with the purchase of a faster car! So the game FORCES you to practise! And if you have the guts to go through it, you will become a very good driver and you'll have a lot of fun with the game. Air Ranger does not force you to practise. You can enter your first mission right away, stumble into the next one, and get stuck with the third one. By then you will blame the difficult game and its awkward controls for your misfortunes. It is probably the only 'mistake' that the game designers of Air Ranger did (...but it was most likely the one, which 'killed' it!): Not to explain, that this is a SIMULATOR, not another helicopter game! And not having included a training stage, - for the sake of people, who do not know, what playing a simulator game means- which HAS to be cleared, before a real mission can be tried! There are plenty of ways to practise in Air Ranger, but the truth is, that people do not like practising. If they can get it for free, they want it for free. In Air Ranger it seems to be free. The possibility to control a helicopter. But it is not! So - if you are willing to sacrifice a little time for learning some facts about helicopters and also are willing to spend some more time for practising, you will have a lot of fun with this game . 1.4. CONTROLLING A HELICOPTER By watching the lesson and lecture in the BEGINNERS level of the game, and after getting some more information, I understood that there are several explanations about the specific difficulties of flying a helicopter, and several ways to master them. The main problems are: 1.4.1. TORQUE 1.4.2. MOVING WITHIN 3 DIMENSIONS 1.4.3. THE RELATIVELY SLOW SPEED OF A HELICOPTER 1.4.4. THE RELATIVELY LOW WEIGHT OF A HELICOPTER 1.4.5. JUDGING DISTANCES I will try to explain all points and to give some help, how to handle the specific problems. Bear with me,- as I said - I am not a pilot! But I did manage to get all of those gold medals (...and a few "platina"). So- if you follow my propositions there could be some actual help with the game. Also - I will not explain all the technical details, partly because I do not know all of the answers, but mostly because it is not necessary for beating the game. 1.4.1. TORQUE If the main rotor of a helicopter starts moving, the engine and the body want to move into the opposite direction. This effect is called TORQUE. To compensate for this unwanted movement most helicopters use a second, smaller rotor, located at the end of the tail. This tail rotor rotates in a vertical dimension and produces the necessary counter force to keep the body from moving under the main rotor. There is another method to confront the torque effect: by putting a second main rotor on the body, rotating on the same horizontal dimension as the first one, but in the opposite direction! So this means: Rotor 1 moves clockwise and rotor 2 moves counter clockwise (or vice versa). Since this system needs two big rotors and two equally strong engines, helicopters of that kind are usually rather big! For obvious reasons the counter power needed for the tail rotor is much smaller: If you have a long tail, you need less power from the tail rotor to keep the helicopter steady. This means tail rotor helicopters can be much smaller, and thus more mobile, as well on the ground as in the air, than the twin rotor types. You can build bigger tail rotor helicopters also, but then you might need to put in a second engine for the tail rotor. In the game you can fly all three types, depending on the object of your mission: A small tail rotor type, a bigger tail rotor type and a BIG twin type - more about that later. The compensating for the torque effect can be realized in two different ways: -By adjusting the speed of the tail rotor ' manually', meaning that the basic speed has to be adjusted to the respective flying maneuver by the pilot.( ... sounds difficult, I know, and it IS difficult, you better believe it ... ) -By connecting the tail rotor to the main rotor's engine by using a set of gears, which gives the tail rotor the necessary respective speed to keep the body from turning under the main rotor AT ALL TIMES. Now you will ask, why on earth there isn't such a wonderful thing in ALL helicopters?? Beats me; my guess is that - because that gear needs some room - it has to do with the size and the weight of the helicopter. And with the age of the machine... But, as I said before, it is actually not necessary to get down to the final explanation, the more interesting problem is, that the exact misfortune (having a copter WITHOUT that wonderful thing ) happens to be one of the major obstacles in the game !!! In order to learn how to handle that problem let's have a look at the controls of a helicopter. 1.4.2. MOVING WITHIN THREE DIMENSIONS (And the 'translation' to the PS2 controller) A helicopter pilot has to think almost constantly in three dimensions, which means he has to control three different motions at the same time. The instruments he has at his disposal are: 22.214.171.124. THE CYCLIC LEVER 126.96.36.199. THE COLLECTIVE LEVER 188.8.131.52. THE PEDALS 184.108.40.206. THE CYCLIC LEVER The cyclic lever is the curved stick between the knees of the pilot, being held with the right hand. It can be moved into a forward, a backward, a right and a left position and in all the positions in between (slightly left, slightly forward etc.) It controls the amount of tilt of the main rotor's axle. Don't ask how this is done, it is quite complicated - for the game the only thing necessary to know is, that you control the forward/backward/ right/left movements of your copter. The respective part on your PS2 controller (before I forget - you NEED the Dualshock, others will not work) is the LEFT ANALOG STICK. Basically these movements are all in the same dimension - but you will soon realize that there is one little problem: If you push the lever ahead, the copter not only goes forward - it starts to put the nose down and the tail up and actually goes down to some degree! I am sure you have seen that effect with real helicopters. To compensate for that you have to make the helicopter actually go up a bit - otherwise you'll end up on the ground sooner or later. This is actually a minor problem: You will not crash because of it. But it presents a good opportunity to demonstrate, how you have to use the instruments simultaneously, and to introduce the next control instrument: 220.127.116.11. THE COLLECTIVE LEVER This is the lever, which is positioned at the place where the hand break would be in a car. (It actually also looks a lot like a hand brake!) It is used with the left hand and controls the UP and DOWN movements of your heli. On your PS2 controller this lever is represented by the L1 and L2 buttons - L1 for UP, L2 for DOWN. Moving the lever UP or DOWN changes the tilt of the blades of the main rotor. If the lever is in the DOWN position, the blades are parallel to the ground, which makes them cut through the air without any effect on the helicopters movements. You see that if you would push now the cyclic lever ahead, the copter would not move forwards, at least not to the degree you would expect by pushing that lever all the way ahead. (If you are standing on the ground and push the cyclic lever ahead, it doesn't move at all.) On the other side, if you would pull the collective lever up, the copter only would go up, without any forward movement. The way of controlling the copter is therefore a combination of both movements! You have to balance the effect of both levers, depending on where you want to go and how fast. That last point is quite important: Your speed depends on the tilt of the blades AND on the tilt of the axle! If you go UP fast, your forward speed will decrease. If you tilt the axle to a great extent, you will go FORWARD and your upward movement will decrease. There is no real 'accelerator' in your helicopter - you have to control your speed by increasing and decreasing the effects of tilting blades and rotor. You are now able to move in three different directions already, so why do you need a third controller? The problem is, that you can tilt the rotor axle to some degree, but you cannot tilt it all the way to 90 degrees, which would produce the optimal use of the rotor for moving forward or sideward. If you would tilt the rotor by 90 degrees (imitating a conventional propeller plane), you'd loose the upward lift and would have to use a second rotor or a set of wings. Since you don't want to do that (because such a machine would be very interesting indeed, but not anything like a helicopter anymore...), you have to accept the fact that you can change the tilt only slightly , which has two very important effects: -The speed of your forward/backward movements will be limited -The speed of your right/left movements (meaning: your turns) will be limited The first point is a fact you have to live with - the traveling speed of a helicopter is limited and can usually not be compared to the speed of a conventional plane! The second point will introduce the third control instrument, which actually allows some compensation for this effect: 18.104.22.168. THE PEDALS If tilting the rotor would be the only way to take turns, a helicopter would not have much advantage over a plane. Sure, it could still go up without having to go forward, but there are planes, which also can do that! If you remember now the torque and the counter measures, you will realize that there is a way to control the moving of the body around its center: Changing the speed of the tail rotor. You can use that to turn your heli around on the spot by slightly in/decreasing the speed of that tail rotor. And if you combine it with tilting the main rotor to the right/left you can perform quite tight turns, if you are not moving too fast. Two pedals control the in/decrease of the tail rotor's speed. On the PS 2 controller they are 'translated' to the RIGHT ANALOG STICK. There might be some confusion with the use of the right analog stick: Pushing it to the right causes the helicopter to turn to the right. This means, that the tail will go to the LEFT, if you are watching from behind! You will get sometimes the impression that the helicopter is doing the opposite movement you want it to do! Before using the right stick make clear, where you want to go. Then push the right stick into that direction, - no matter where your helicopter's tail starts to turn! It would be a good idea, to practise the use of the pedals (= right stick) before getting confused in the heat of a mission. We have covered all three instruments and I am sure that you see by now, that the problem is using all of them together at the same time. But, there are ways to deal with these problems (besides the obvious one: Practising.), and I will show those later. (Up to this point everything is explained and shown in the Beginners level of the game - you'll get the point by just watching a few times.) I said before that you don't have a real accelerator in your helicopter. That is true for all the helicopters in the game. In a real helicopter actually you DO have one: The throttle, which is on the collective lever! Fortunately there are not enough buttons on the PS2 controller (you would need 2 free buttons - the only 'free' one is the R2 button...) to put this additional feature on the controller and the additional burden on us. 1.4.3. THE RELATIVELY SLOW SPEED OF A HELICOPTER The top speed of a helicopter is not really one of its strongest features. (One reason at least you already saw: The limited degree of possible forward tilt of the main rotor's axle.) Almost any plane is faster than an average helicopter! (...little propeller planes being the exception) In real life this is not a big shortcoming - helicopters are mainly used in situations where a plane's superior speed is of not much use. Those are situations which include rescuing, transporting things without having to put them into the helicopter, taking pictures, or picking up people or objects in areas inaccessible by cars or ships, etc. The point is almost always the restricted space of the operation and the ability to move there in all directions, and, also very important, the ability NOT to move, but still to fly - the ability to hover! The factor of speed is only important on the trip to the respective area! In real life there cannot be done much about the long traveling time of the approaching flight. You cannot park helicopters all over the city like ambulances or fire engines: They need at least SOME space for take offs! And they are quite expensive. As a game designer you just could skip that approaching part; but then you wouldn't really simulate a complete rescue operation anymore. Looking again at the other 'real' simulator: In the GT games you are under almost constant pressure, because there are very few moments where you can relax a bit. The reason for this is, that the courses are MADE to be difficult (or chosen BECAUSE they are, in case of 'natural' courses). So, GT does not simulate DRIVING but RACING! Driving does usually not involve taking tight curves at very high speeds. On the other side - to go straight for some minutes does not really require racing skills. GT comes very close to the reality of a RACE. That is why there are more people who like GT than there are people who like Air Ranger: Racing is exciting ALL the time. Rescue is not. Air Ranger however is not a game simulating helicopter RACING! I don't know if there is such a thing as 'racing' for real helicopters. There are some games simulating the steering of a RC helicopter, and on this field I could imagine some kind of racing, -since you can't actually rescue much with a RC helicopter. Mice, maybe. Not very exciting. But Air Ranger is simulating RESCUE operations, and that includes the flight from your heliport to the rescue area, and also the search for the exact location of the accident! Sometimes you have to fly for quite some time, without any opportunity to test your skills; but don't worry about that test - it will come soon enough! Actually there are plenty of things to do during that time: You can start to memorize the areas in order to find the fastest possible route. You can look out for those coins, which are not so easy to find - even after I've told you, where they are. You can study the effects of the wind on your heli and try using it for more speed. You can get familiar with the different camera views and practise changing them quickly. You can admire your beautiful machine from all possible angles. You can admire the sometimes very beautiful landscape. You can find points where you later can practise the more complicated moves. (Landing on buildings, flying through narrow streets...) The general point is: Since you don't have to practise the straight flight (but still can't get around it, as it IS a part of your missions), you should use it for other purposes. There are enough of them - you will realize that soon yourself! 1.4.4. THE RELATIVELY LOW WEIGHT OF A HELICOPTER If you control a plane, sudden changes of the wind direction are not really a major point. (Correct me if I am wrong here...) If you are in mid-flight there is plenty of space for compensation. Even if you pilot a small and light plane you will not encounter big problems because of the wind, - you certainly will not go down and crash because of the wind. Landing is another thing, but usually you should have enough time to prepare, estimate and compensate. A rescue helicopter is often a light, little, quite fragile thing, and will be affected greatly by wind and sudden changes of wind direction. There is also the effect of experiencing sudden boost from the ground, resulting from the air your rotor is moving and which is coming back at you, when you are hovering close to the ground. Even the big CH - 47 J will not be unaffected by the wind at some times! If your mission involves shooting water from your canon at a fire, the boost will throw your heli suddenly back by some meters. Those are all things, which represent a major challenge for real rescue pilots. Since the game wants to simulate these situations, we should actually welcome the challenges as opportunities to prove our skills. (-the author starts to laugh at himself for this obviously insincere comment...-) So - try not to get angry if your heli suddenly starts to move in a direction, you absolutely do NOT want it to move. Next time you will know that there are better angles for your approach. And you will learn how to keep your heli steady, even under heavy conditions - the same way real pilots have to learn that. 1.4.5. JUDGING DISTANCES Finally we arrive at one of the major problems of the game, a problem that I believe to be one of the reasons for the game not getting very popular! And the interesting point is that this doesn't have to be such a big problem, after all! What I am talking about, is the fact that many times you just can't see how far your helicopter, your rotor, your winch man, your rope is apart from the walls, the trees, the ground or the target! You crash your rotor on an object you even didn't know it existed, and your rope or winch man touch the ground at a point where you didn't think they would! These are major problems in most helicopter games! Fortunately Air Ranger is the only one, which offers a solution: It is the only helicopter game I know of that offers a vast variety of camera angles, which CAN BE CHANGED DURING FLIGHT! There is no other game where you actually can see your copter from ALL possible angles while flying. What YOU have to do is to get used to changing the camera angle ALL THE TIME during your missions. You can practise this on the practising field or on free flights. Also, you can sacrifice some trials of the missions, just for the purpose to decide the best angles, and to practise the moving and changing of the cameras. If you master this skill - controlling your helicopter's movements AND the camera angles at the same time - you've made a big step towards enjoying and beating the game! 2.THE GAME 2.1. THE STORY The game is pretty much self-explaining; a few words should be enough: You are a member of private rescue team and have to face the challenge of several rescue missions under various conditions. The objective is to finish the missions as quickly as possible, earn points and get medals according to your points. You win points for being fast and for making smooth landings or drops. You will loose points if you come to late to the rescue of a victim, if you damage your helicopter, if the winch man touches any other object than the victim, or if the transported object touches anything besides the target area. Your mission is failed if you cannot finish the job within a certain time limit or if you crash your helicopter. Your team consists of three persons: The pilot (you), the copilot and the winch man. (I can't say much about the background of this rescue team - I can't read that much Japanese. For beating the game this information is not necessary, anyway.) You start from and land at various different heliports. To let you find your destinations more easily, there is an orange arrow in the left corner of the screen, which indicates the direction of your next destination. After you reach the target area, the target will be identified more clearly: Your remaining distance will be displayed next to it, and in the cases of people waiting for you, your remaining time to rescue them successfully is displayed in form of a "life gauge". 2.2. THE HELICOPTERS AND THE STAGES 2.2.1. THE HELICOPTERS You have three different helicopters at your disposal: -The BK-117-B (tail rotor / 2 engines /13m length /4 passenger seats/manned winch/water cannon) -The CH-47J (twin rotors / 2 engines / 30m length / seats not used /unmanned winch) -The OH-6D (tail rotor / 1 engine / 8m length / 2 passenger seats / manned winch) ('manned winch' means : at the and of your rope is a person who grabs the victims 'unmanned winch' means : your rope will be picked up by a person on the ground and will be put around the object ) You will 'receive' them in that order, after you cleared the mission in which they were introduced. With 'receive' I mean, that you can use them from now on in the FREE FLIGHT mode. Which type is going to be used in the respective missions is decided - you have no influence on the choice. The Instruments: You have three instruments to monitor your flight conditions: -The altitude meter shows the distance to sea level in feet -The VSI meter shows the use of the collective lever -The speed meter shows the speed of your forward motion in knots The ALTIDUDE METER can evoke a quite false idea, how far you are away from the ground, since it shows only your height compared to sea level. I recommend to rely on the camera views: If you look at your helicopter from either side, leveling the camera about half way between ground and helicopter, you get a pretty good picture, how far you are away from ground or target. Another way to judge your altitude and your position is to look at the shadow of your helicopter. It will always tell you the approximate distance to the ground and even gives you some information about your angle of your approach, under every weather circumstances. The number under the VSI METER indicates, to what extent you are sinking or climbing. -999 indicates fast descent, 0 indicates hovering or flying without up/down movement, 999 indicates fast ascent. The gauge next to the VSI indicates the same thing in a more graphical way: Gauge up: ascent Gauge in middle position: hovering or flying without up/down Gauge down: descent The SPEED METER is in knots, which could be converted in miles or km per hour, if it would be of importance. It is actually not, since your helicopter will not fall from the sky because of insufficient speed, like a plane would do (the stall effect). After all, that is one of the enormous advantages, a helicopter has! It does not have to move forward in order to keep or gain height. On the other side, 'high speed' is also not really a topic with helicopters, you can 'brake' them almost immediately by pulling the cyclic lever back! I almost never look at the speed. You are better off, to estimate your speed in relation to close objects. In the lower right corner of the screen you can see the remaining time for your mission. Above that is the information about free and taken passenger seats. (free seat=green / taken seat=red) In the upper right corner you get information about direction and strength of the wind. The orange arrow in the upper left corner points to the direction your next target area will be. 2.2.2 THE STAGES The two missions in each stage feature the same terrain, but with different tasks, helicopters, weather conditions and starting/landing points. There are four different types of rescue operations: -TRANSPORT injured people to the hospital or to a heliport -MOVE heavy objects by using the unmanned winch -RESCUE people by using the manned winch -FIRE FIGHT by using the water cannon The Stages and their Missions: (* denotes night missions) Mission Scenery Rescue Type Helicopter Weather Stage 1 1 city TRANSPORT BK-117-B fine 2 -"- MOVE CH-47J fine/wind Stage 2 1 sea shore RESCUE/TRANSPORT BK-117-B cloudy/wind *2 -"- RESCUE/TRANSPORT OH-6D storm Stage 3 1 mountains MOVE CH-47J fine / wind *2 -"- RESCUE/TRANSPORT OH-6D snowstorm Stage 4 1 canyon RESCUE/TRANSPORT OH-6D fine / wind 2 -"- FIRE FIGHT BK-117-B fine / wind Proceeding in the Stages: For successfully finishing a mission you get one out of four possible medals, bronze, silver, gold and 'platina' (actually: platinum) -Getting a bronze medal (or better) opens the next stage -Getting a silver medal gets you the same thing. (If you did get anything else, please tell me! I didn't.) -Getting a gold medal opens the second mission of that stage -Getting a platinum medal means that you are lying, or that you are REALLY good! To get platinum you have to deliver a PERFECT operation! One mistake, touching anything just ONCE ruins your chances immediately; you need the full 100 points! That's why -unfortunately- I am not able to tell, exactly what goodie you get for it. Up to now I got only 3 platinum! And even that was partly pure luck. It seems that you get the colors of the Japanese Self Defense Forces. Which affect this has on the performance of your helicopters, I don't know! -If you clear a stage (means: both missions) with gold you can practice in that stage without time limit, using the Free Flight choice in the Beginners mode. -If you clear all stages with gold you've cleared the game. You will see the ending movie, which shows you all the positions of the coins. If you save and restart the game you will see a new title in the main menu: ENDING. By going there you can watch the ending movie as many times as you wish to. (You see each coin's position only for a couple of seconds, and that is sometimes not enough. So, instead of having to watch everything all over again, just to see one coin's hideout again, I videotaped it.) -If you collect all coins (will explain details in 2.5.) you receive a new set of blue painted helicopters, stronger and faster than the red ones! 2.3. THE CONTROLS 2.3.1. EASY, NORMAL or REAL Now, this is probably the most difficult point to get across. (-at this moment the author already seeks cover under his desk and continues addressing you from there-) This is the one and maybe only game in your career, you have to consider doing on the EASY level! Wait! WAIIIIT! Don't rip it into thousand shreds already, I CAN EXPLAIN!!! I KNOW that many of you consider even the NORMAL level as something for sissies, and that some of you play that mercenary thing of RE 3 on the VERY EXTREMELY SUPER HARD level, where you go after the zombies equipped with not much more than a pair of boxer shorts and a plastic fork... But - after you know what happens if you DON'T put that switch in the main menu down to EASY, you will see my point! Remember my sermon about the torque? If you keep the switch in the NORMAL position, you will 'sit' in one of those helicopters where you CONSTANTLY have to make up for that torque effect by yourself! In other words: If you want to fly straight ahead, the helicopter keeps going to one side, so you have to counter-steer with the right stick. And I cannot see any benefit coming from that additional task, besides getting a swollen right thumb and crashing countless helicopters into buildings. If you put it into the REAL position you will enter a world I seriously doubt to be the real helicopter world. The effect of the torque increases and even simple hovering becomes a nightmare! I have read in several articles that the torque problem IS taken care of with most helicopters. And even if that information would be false (which I do not believe to be so) - this is a GAME! Granted - a simulator, but still no reason to torture yourself. Believe me - it is already hard enough to control your heli, even without that torque thing. And since I got all of the gold and even some of the platina (platinUM...) in the EASY level, I don't think there will be any real loss, certainly no loss of face: better to beat it than NOT to beat it - but THAT being on NORMAL level. The really nasty thing is, that it is not enough to keep the stick pushed to one side - that would cause your copter to finally turn into that direction. Instead of going straight. So - to keep it straight, you have to push - release - push - release etc. the right stick, at the same time fishing people from ships or moving trains! To make the decision even easier, try to imagine, to be the boss of a rescue team. You have 3 helicopters in your hangar. One is brand new, has full torque compensation, and allows the pilot to concentrate 100% on the mission. The second one needs permanent concentration on the torque correction, meaning - constant use of the pedals, because without that, it wouldn't go straight! The last one you bought about 40 years ago, because you couldn't afford a better one those times, and back then, there wasn't much of a choice anyway! Looking now at it, you wonder, how any one could possibly have managed to go straight with that for more than 5 seconds, and how on earth anybody could have successfully landed it on a place smaller than a baseball field. While you are pondering about that, an emergency call comes in: Traffic accident in the city, injured person has to be picked up and transported to the next hospital as fast as possible. There is a heli landing place on the roof of the hospital - a routine operation. Now the question: WHICH OF YOUR HELICOPTERS WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR PILOT FOR THE OPERATION? (They are all fully tanked, ready for take off, and THEY ARE ALL YOURS!) If I would be that boss, there wouldn't even be the need for such a decision: That last thing would long have gone to the scrap yard or the museum. The second one would possibly be still around, but it would stand in the other hangar - together with the old oil drums and the lawn mower. It would leave that hangar only for the purpose, to frighten away beginners, who think they can learn to fly a helicopter in a couple of hours, because they saw some guy doing that in a movie. Or to remind my pilots from time to time, what a nice guy I am, letting them use that new, expensive machine with full torque compensation... So, the very first thing about the controls is: Switch to EASY and forget about it altogether. (You still can experiment with the other levels after you cleared the game. I won't!) 2.3.2. The RADIO CONTROL Switching to 'RADIO CONTROL' puts the controls of the collective lever onto the RIGHT ANALOG STICK. The stick then has TWO functions: Controlling the right/left movements and the up/down movements. I never have played with a radio-controlled helicopter, but my guess is, that this configuration imitates the controller of such a heli. (Correct me ...) Switching to this configuration also changes considerably the speed of response of the collective lever: It reacts much faster than in the 'NORMAL CONTROL' mode! Since most RC models move much quicker -if you consider the proportions between size and speed- than their big brothers from real life, that effect might truthfully 'translate' a real remote control's feeling onto the PS 2 controller. For people who are used to flying RC helicopters this might be a welcome option, since they don't have to get used to a new configuration. For the rest of us I recommend to stay away from it. It puts TWO functions on ONE stick, and that is bound to confuse you sooner or later! In a helicopter the three dimensions are nicely distributed to three different instruments, a fact you can use to your advantage in many difficult situations! It is a very important advantage, and I will explain later WHY that is so. The RADIO CONTROL also lets your helicopter move astonishingly fast up- and downwards, while the other movements - for example turning around its own axle - stay the same. The result is a quite unrealistic way of 'behaving' for a real helicopter, even for a real lightweight type. So the simulator effect is gone,- you immediately realize, that a helicopter doesn't move like that! The practical effect of going up and down faster is of no real advantage within a mission. On the contrary: The up/down control becomes quite touchy suddenly, while the right/left control stays the same. Very confusing! I believe your best choice is: Use NORMAL CONTROL on EASY. 2.3.3. THE SPEED OF RESPONDING Many people seem to have problems with the handling of the helicopters in Air Ranger. The machines respond quite late to the controller, and sometimes you almost get the impression, you have to do the opposite to get the desired effect: Pushing the stick to the right to make it go left! (It may FEEL like that - but the helicopter DOES go to the left if you push to the left - it just doesn't do it immediately...) On the long, straight flights this problem is of no importance - only when you are at the actual place of rescue. So, while flying is kind of easy - the rescue operation is always difficult, sometimes very difficult. The problems are: Wind, moving targets, limited space and -the handling of the helicopter. I would believe, that most of the other problems would become much smaller, if the helicopters would do what you want it to do a bit quicker! So why didn't the game designers make the controller react faster to your commands? I don't think the reason is poor programming or lacking knowledge. I also don't believe, they wanted to make the game very difficult on purpose. (They actually did add that EASY option, but what it does, will not change the speed of reaction, it only takes the burden of the torque effect away from you!) I believe, that they wanted to create a true simulator game without too many compromises. Accelerating heavy things and to slow them down again needs time. If you take a car at high speed through a sharp turn, you actually have to start to turn the handle BEFORE the turn. And a car still has some grip in a curve, even if it starts to slide. Now, imagine taking a plane through a turn. There is nothing, where it has a grip on - besides the air resistance at wings and body. So, a 'curve' will be a mixture of forward and sideward gliding, which results in a rather indefinite and late movement to the side. A car you can brake to almost standstill and then move at once into a completely different direction. Try to do that with a plane... A helicopter you also can brake to a standstill, but to move it again takes quite some time. When flying forward with some speed, the same conditions apply to a helicopter as to a plane: Curves will become quite big - quick turns are almost impossible. A plane cannot perform sharp turns - not even a very small one. A helicopter can do sharp turns, but has to be stopped and turned on the spot for that. (RC helicopters seem to be able to change directions quicker. But don't forget that there is a considerable mismatch between their weight and their power! You cannot compare their handling with that of a real, big one!) You can make an easier helicopter game, but I don't think you can make an easier helicopter simulator. 2.3.4. FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS The biggest problem is the 'swinging and swaying'-effect: You cannot stabilize the helicopter and keep moving from one to the other side without getting it under control. This phenomenon shows up in almost all missions. It is usually caused by trying to compensate for a movement in an unwanted direction, or by trying to react to a movement, which was too drastic. It is a thing, which you should be able to control after some time! But it seems, that you just can't! The reason for this usually is, that you try to balance your helicopter by wildly moving in all possible directions. The problem with that is, that you will become confused about the dimensions and you do not really know, in which dimension the move was, for which you try to make up! In other words: If your heli goes DOWN and LEFT and BACK you have to put it UP a bit, to the RIGHT a bit and FORWARD a bit. IF you realize all these facts within the fraction of a second AND can react with the proper counter measures (which includes the knowledge about the AMOUNT of that 'bit', which is of course different for each movement...), you will be able to get your helicopter balanced again! Personally, I don't have the reflexes for that! After a couple of crashes and some thinking and reading, I came to the conviction, that there has to be a different way, than practicing this kind of multi dimensional puzzle for hundreds of hours. I heard and understood, that flying helicopters is difficult - but it can't be THAT difficult! The biggest problem is confusing the dimensions! Having made that clear, the next step is obvious: -IF YOU HAVE TO MANEUVER IN LIMITED SPACE - SEPARATE YOUR MOTIONS! FIRST STOP ONE OF YOUR MOVEMENTS! THEN STOP STEP-BY-STEP ALL OTHERS. For example: Stop the forward movement, so you are moving down/up and left/right ONLY. Next stop the left/right movement, so you are now sinking or climbing ON THE SAME PLACE. Now all what is left to do is to make the helicopter hovering. The order can be different, depending of the character of you mission. Important is, that your counter motions (-for example: the counter motion for a FORWARD movement is to push the collective lever BACK ..., etc.) are short and deft movements. By doing so, you can control the effect of your action better, since you see the full effect of a small movement much earlier, than the effect of a big motion. You can add more of the quick counter movements, if the helicopter is still moving in the unwanted direction, or you can do a little opposite motion, if you overdid it. Instead of making one extensive motion, which can be much too drastic, and makes another 'counter-counter' action necessary, you do a series of small corrections, which you stop when you reach the desired effect! The main point is being able to control the extent of your actions. -STOP YOUR FLIGHT before you reach the rescue scenery! If you are still new in the game, do that early enough! If you do it too late, you might find yourself already in a space, where you can't do all of the separated moves for long enough without hitting things! Stop early, hover, and decide the best way to approach the area. Do this step by step. For example: Fly forward until you are over the target. Stop. Hover. Go down slowly. Make necessary side adjustments by using the cyclic lever OR the pedals (left analog stick OR right analog stick), but DON'T USE THEM TOGETHER! There is also the possibility to use ONLY the pedals for side movements: you turn into the desired direction by circling around your axis, stop circling and go straight forward, by using the cyclic lever. (There are many missions, where this technique becomes a necessity!) -MAKE CLEAR WHICH CAUSES THE SWINGING - the wind or you! Sometimes you see the trees at your landing point or target starting to move wildly and automatically assume, that it is caused by a sudden gust of wind. Of course there are sudden gusts in the game, but mostly the only reason for the trees to move is your own rotor! Before you start trying to compensate for something, that doesn't exist, make sure, how much wind there actually is. Look at the upper right corner for a check, or get your helicopter into a perfectly still hover and watch if it starts to drift to one side. Most of the time it doesn't! There could be another reason for problems at the landings: Sometimes the air your rotor is moving comes back at you, being reflected from the ground. This could give you an upward, and sometimes even a sideward thrust! Whichever it is - don't overreact. Counter-act with the usual small, but frequent movements. -WATCH THE WIND! In some missions the wind is very strong and quite disturbing! Try to avoid wind from the side in narrow spaces. It is much more difficult to be compensated for than wind from behind or ahead! -TAKE YOUR TIME AND DON'T HURRY at the rescue place! Especially if you are a beginner - you need to move slowly and precisely! You will loose much more time in the end, if the 'swinging' effect starts and you can't stop it immediately. You also will loose points for hitting things or landing roughly. Do it slowly and stop altogether, when in doubt or in trouble. -USE THE CAMERAS TO CONTROL THE ANGLE OF YOUR APPROACH! It is not always easy to tell, in which direction and to what extent your helicopter is actually moving. Before you become the victim of a wrong impression and start moving in a completely wrong direction, make sure what the actual conditions are. For that you have to change the camera view a couple of times. More details about that in the next topic. -WATCH THE SHADOW of your helicopter! It indicates your present position very clearly! Use it to your advantage, especially at the landings. 2.4. THE CAMERAS Air Ranger gives you almost complete control over the cameras, a feature, which is very rare, if not unique in a game for PS2. There has to be a reason for this, because there have to be sacrifices for that luxury: Sometimes you could say, that the graphics are not really PS2 standard and there could have been more depth to the game. I imagine that it takes a lot of memory space to include such a complex option as the camera views of Air Ranger. So the reason cannot only be to let you look at your pretty helicopter from all angles: There obviously is a way, how to use this option to your advantage in the game! Why is the view so important in this game? A helicopter can move into a new direction quite suddenly. It can change from forward flight to sinking flight almost without any delay. This means, that estimating the extent of your descent is very difficult - it does not occur gradually - as with a plane - but immediately! You cannot only rely on your altitude meter, because it doesn't give the actual distance to the ground. The only way to guess the distance to the ground is using your eyes. And that is the reason, why helicopters have really big windows, giving you view even under your feet! Unlike a plane a helicopter has to land on places, which are not designed and prepared for a landing. This means that you have to rely on your view only - there is no way of relying on a standard landing routine. A real helicopter pilot does this by moving the head and trying to get the best view through the various big windows. To simulate this ability in a game is almost impossible. To understand this, look at different points in your room by turning your head. You can do that very quickly, especially if you also use your eyes! You can change directions almost without any delay. To simulate that kind of quick and sudden movements as an additional feature of an already complex game is probably not possible yet. (There actually is a camera for the inside view. But if you try it, you will not find it being very practical, I am afraid.) Instead, Air Ranger gives you control over four 'cameras' to determine the exact present location of your helicopter. You will not see any cameras in the game, of course - using this word is just a way to describe the possible angles of view. -The 'default' camera (the camera view, which appears automatically, if you start a mission) is positioned quite closely behind your helicopter. The button, you have to push to return to that view (if you changed to another one after the start) is the CIRCLE button. -If you still want to view your helicopter from an outside view, but prefer a more distant camera position, you have to push the CROSS button. -To get the view from the inside of the cockpit, press the TRIANGLE button. -The SQUARE button gives you a view?of the present area of interest: The landing zone, the rescue zone or the destination zone. Which view you get depends on the extent of your proceeding within the mission. (If you are close to the rescue point, you'll get the view from the rescue spot. If you finished the rescue action, you'll get the view of the final destination.) This option might be useful as long as you don't have any clue about your next destination - after your second trial of the mission you probably won't need it anymore. 2.4.1. Changing the Angles The digital direction keys allow you to move the respective cameras around your helicopter in a horizontal direction (LEFT/RIGHT DIGITAL KEYS) and in a vertical direction (UP/DOWN DIGITAL KEYS). You cannot move the cameras gradually back or forth with the digital keys, - if you want a more distant or close view, you have to change to a different camera. -The up/down control allows movements up to 180 degrees. -The left/right control lets you rotate the camera around your helicopter without limitation! This is a huge advantage, and you should get used to make use of it as soon and as much as possible. 2.4.2. Using the Cameras Judging distances, judging your height and judging the speed of your approach to a target are important factors in this game. Since the simulation of the pilot's cockpit view seems not to be possible (because of the necessary high speed movements), the game gives you the possibility, to watch your helicopter from the outside. This option seems to be no real innovation - most of the other helicopter games also let you see your helicopter from that view. And if you take the customary look to 'the other simulator': The best (and maybe only advisable) view in GT is the INSIDE view, and not the outside view, like in most other racing games! So - why could this be done here and can't be done in Air Ranger?? Sitting in a racing car, you mostly look forward - if you need to know, what is going behind you, you look in your mirror - which is in front of you. No need for frequent and quick movements of your head. Which means: No programming problems - no compromises needed. As a helicopter pilot, you have to do those fast movements many times, and obviously that is too difficult to be realized in a complicated program! It is probably the only point, where Air Ranger had to make a compromise. But I think, that the designers found a way, to make up for that: If you really make use of those cameras and their mobility, you can get all necessary information about the present movements and location of your helicopter. If the changes of cameras and angles become a second nature to you, the missions will be a lot easier to master! -Try to memorize the buttons for the cameras and angle changes as soon as possible. You can do this in the FREE FLIGHT mode, during a coin hunt or during a mission, on the approaching flight from the start to the rescue location or during your return. -Find out, which camera and which angle is most helpful in a particular mission. Sometimes a close view makes things easier, sometimes it is better to view the scenery from a more distant point of view. -Try to establish a 'routine' for each mission. Find out, which parts are done most easily with which camera view. Decide the best time, when to switch to another camera. -Practise the camera changes until you can do them automatically. That way you won't loose precious time and can concentrate on difficult flying maneuvers. IMPORTANT: -I recommend choosing the 'far distant' camera in a position slightly above (press CROSS and the UP key at the start of the mission) as your standard view. Your crash statistic will soon look much better! When working with Bob use the closer view (press CIRCLE after he is out). That way you can see better how far he is away from things. Return to the more distant view after he is done. 2.5. THE STAR COINS There are 5 coins hidden in each mission's area. You have to collect all 40 in order to open a new title in your main menu: CUSTOMIZE. With that new option you can turn your helicopters into faster and stronger ones. (They will also receive a new coat of blue/white paint.) In the next paragraph I give some basic explanations about the coins, but the exact locations will not be revealed. If you want to find them all alone, or prefer to wait with that decision until you can see the ENDING movie, you still can read this paragraph. It will only give some very general advices. The paragraph AFTER that one ('Locations') is the one you should not read in this case. I found about half of the coins before I got to see the ENDING movie. (In case you didn't catch it: I recommend videotaping it - you might have to watch that ending many times...) Still, even after having the video - it took me quite some time with several of them! I predict, that you still will have to look pretty hard for them, even if you did read that 'Locations' paragraph. I tried to do my best to explain as precisely as I could, where all of those darned things are hiding quite successfully. But some times you just can't explain it perfectly clear without having a map. If you do it all alone, I can promise, that you get some nice opportunities for practising your technical skills. I also can promise, that, when you are doing a 'looking for coins' mission, 'practising' time will get unpleasantly long a few times... 2.5.1. Basics There are several things about the coins, which you should realize, before you start to hunt for them: - You can (and should) look for them without caring about the actual mission. You might find accidentally one or another coin near the place of action or on your approach/return flight. I strongly recommend not taking them in such a situation! Just remember the location and get it later. Some of many reasons for that: If you don't write it down immediately, you will forget it! The coins have no numbers in the displays of the menu, and it is very easy to mix up the places and the missions, and which one of them you've actually got. It is also possible to mix up the savings (I did), meaning: Saving on different files and then forgetting which coin was on which file. But the most important reason is your time limit: In order to get gold you have to be quick. And if you do have some spare time, you should use it for an unhurried landing or an extra careful drop instead! -You can use the full time of a mission. The mission will fail, of course, but that has no further effect on anything - you'll keep the coin(s) you found! The same is true if you end a mission prematurely - accidentally or on purpose - you'll keep your coin(s). Minus points also are of no importance - you can hit things, land rudely and mistreat your winch man, just try not to crash BEFORE you get the coin you are after, because then you have to do it all over again. No big thing, but not really necessary. - I recommend searching systematically, as well in a general meaning as in a practical. If you look for coins, ONLY look for coins - and for ALL of them! Trust me on this one, I speak from experience! I don't say, you should really get ALL of them in one single try. But you should get all 5 of a mission in one trial! Which can consist of several tries, but those should be subsequent - do not rest, before you have them all safely on your account! And don't hesitate to confirm this fact by looking at your USER DATES in the main menu frequently. And ALWAYS SAVE immediately, after having finished a successful coin mission, even if you got only one! Saving costs no money or points. If you don't do all these things, you will most likely forget or confuse, which coin you found when and in which of both missions, if you haven't recorded it painstakingly. So - get all five and you can forget about them! As for the searching procedure itself: Organize your search. Start at one point and move systematically ahead. You want to cover every square inch, without going countless times over already checked areas. If you start to fly aimlessly around, you will need hours, or even days. Some of the coins you will never find that way. Establish an effective and time saving search pattern. Don't expect to find all of them in one try; use the time available, to cover one area thoroughly, and then use the next mission to cover the adjacent area in the same way. You will find'em sooner or later that way! -Save whenever you can. And always on the same file! -The coins are never hidden in places, where it actually would take a month to find them: If there is a huge forest with 2000 exactly identical looking trees, you can be sure that there is no coin there! Fortunately the designers of the game were no sadists - the coins are always in some distinctive places. I will try to make some examples, without giving actual locations away: In a forest, if there are 2000 trees of the same species, look for another species! If there are 2000 trees of the same size and only one real tall one, go there! If there is one lonely building in the middle of nowhere, go there! If you detect strange or too regular configurations of trees or buildings, go there! You get the point. One more hint: Many coins are near the places of action or somehow related to them. The locations can be related to the previous mission's area of interest, or the next one's. They are always hidden in a certain place with a reason. When you have found a couple of coins you will understand this way of 'reasoning' of the game makers, and can start to use that for your further search. Some of the locations make the use of your winch man necessary! Since you only can 'launch' him, if you are prompted by the game to 'PRESS R1', YOU have to prompt the game giving you control over the winch by going to the place of action. This means, that you will loose quite some time, which has to be taken into consideration for your plans, which coin(s) to get within the time limit! You also want to undergo that effort not more than once, if there are two coins, which require the winch. There is also the fact, that - after you pressed the R1 button - there is no way to haul Bobby back, unless you let him actually rescue someone - and you don't want to do that -, which means you have this guy hanging out of your heli until the end of the mission, cursing and yelling at you, as you continue to drag him along, hitting walls, trees, ships and getting drowned several times. A purely cosmetical problem, but it sometimes does make you feel guilty a little bit... I recommend collecting the coins (ALL of them) as soon as possible! If you want to take an early advantage from your new helicopters for the rest of the missions, you'll want to get them as fast as possible! The fastest way would be: Get gold in all of the 4 stages' first missions. That way you open all sub missions and can start to go for the coins. You don't have to go after the sub missions right now. Leave them for later, AFTER you got the faster helis. Then use those for the remaining missions! (If you know exactly, where each coin is and if you know how to get gold on the first or second try, you can beat the game that way in one afternoon!! Don't let anybody disturb you, though.) IMPORTANT: Last (and very important) point: After you got a coin (...after that very pleasing sound and the confirmation 'GET STAR COIN') it will be gone from the scenery! Completely, totally and utterly, leaving no sign of its previous existence! This seems to be an obvious fact, but: If you didn't write down everything, I predict that you will sooner or later look for a coin, which you already took! Because that's what I did. It is real easy to get them mixed up! If you get all of a stage in a row, you won't have problems with that. 2.5.2. LOCATIONS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you want to look for the coins all by yourself, DO NOT READ THIS PART! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You might want to change the order in my lists, if you want to get the entire five in one single attempt. The order in which they appear on my list does not imply any qualification. It does not matter which one you get first, if you are not after a quick run. If you are, decide yourself about the order, according to your preferences. A (W) next to a * stands for 'winch' and indicates a mission, where you need the help of Bob! FIRST STAGE (San Fel(r?)nando) First Mission: * After you lift off, keep slightly to the left and follow the ally with the trees at the right side. Slow down and wait for a red sports car, showing up randomly from ahead or behind. Pick up the coin it is carrying, but be careful not to run onto too many buildings, that car makes rather surprising turns! If you missed it (if it doesn't show up after about 20 seconds), go and search for it - it keeps cruising the city -, or: Retry. * There is a bluish twin tower building right next to your landing point. A passageway, quite high above ground level, connects the towers. The coin is hovering under that passageway. * If you turn left after your take off and head for the water, you'll see an island with a hill, which has a group of 4 trees on its top. There is a lighthouse on this island and the coin is hovering above its top. * The big red bridge connects the place of your first event with the side, where the hospital is located. The coin is under the bridge, near the hospital side, between the buttresses of the red pillar. You can see the coin only when you are under the bridge and quite close to the water, so don't give up before! * Hover at street level besides the hospital. You can see the coin, floating in the underpass. Second Mission: * Turn to the left after your start. You will see a hill and a village behind it, surrounded by trees. Continue going straight, leaving the lighthouse island to your right. In the distance, there is another hill formation in front of you with a single tree on top and another one at the left flank. To the right is a formation of buildings. Ignore them and go straight over the hill. You will see a street crossing and some buildings. Behind the crossing there is a group of houses of the same type. Amidst them is a single, tall fir tree. The coin is floating right above it. * After lift off fly over to the lighthouse island. Fly towards the hill in front of you, aiming at the single tree in the far distance. You will soon notice some kind of big crater below you. There is a house and a group of trees. The coin is between the trees. It is sometimes hard to spot it from above, so go down all the way - it really IS there! * Try to identify the tallest building in the city. There are two tall ones of almost the same size, quite close to each other. One of them has a grayish color (the other one is brown), and four antennas at its top corners. The coin hovers above the top of that building. * This is a nice one! Fly to the bridge and hover next to the red pillar, which is closer to the city. Look at the upper third of its buttress; the coin is floating right in the middle of it. To get it is a little tricky, but don't forget, that hitting things is no problem. Just try not to wreck your helicopter. * After take off fly over the bridge, then keep to the left and follow the shoreline. Fly over the three ships and you will see a street to the right, leading towards a group of trees. The street ends near the shore and there are some buildings, cars and a heliport amidst the trees. The coin is floating above the big H. SECOND STAGE (White Cliff) First Mission: * There is a second ship, next to the sinking one. It has a helicopter-landing place. The coin is right there. * (W) Fly to the front part of the ship, the part which is going to disappear into the water first. The coin is in the square shaped opening. (If you wait until this part of the ship gets under water, you don't need Bob: The coin will show up above the water.) * There are four little boats floating around the sinking ship, all of them covered with red sheets. The coin is above one of them. * (W) At your starting point there are two buildings, besides the hangar: The main building and the control tower. The coin is between the two of them. * For this coin you'll have to wait some time: It will show up beneath the stern of the sinking ship after your count down clock is down to about seven minutes. Get this coin at the end or enjoy watching the ship sink slowly. Second Mission: Since the weather is very nasty in this mission, the coins are difficult to locate some times! Try to memorize the shape of the shoreline by going back to the first mission. It is actually almost shaped like the mirror image of a big E, looking at it from your start point; the two light houses being at the ends of the top and the bottom strokes. If you can't find a coin, try to find the location in the first mission's scenario (which -as you know- is the same as in the second one, but it looks quite different at daytime!). It might even help, if you draw a rough sketch of the scenario. * Fly slightly to the left after take off. Go to the lighthouse at the shore near your start point. Pluck the coin from the top of the tower. * Fly in roughly the same direction, where the sinking ship was in the first mission. Go to the shoreline where the middle 'stroke' of the E is. You can see a rock with a very characteristic form: Its peak is pointed very sharply. The coin is above the peak. * If you fly again towards that rock with the sharp peak and continue to fly to the land, you can see the hospital to the right in the far distance. To your left are some houses at both sides of a street. Follow the street until you come to a fork. The right street leads to the hospital, the left one follows roughly the shoreline. Follow the left street until you see a lone group of trees to your right. The coin is between these trees! (This one took me some time...) If you look at the group from above, you'll notice, that the inner trees form a perfect circle! * (W) Follow the street to the hospital by taking the right turn at the fork, which I mentioned above (the left one leads to the coin amidst the trees...). Follow that right street until the next fork and take a left there. Fly towards the settlement around the hospital until you almost reach the main crossing with the traffic light. BEFORE this crossing there is a tall, brown building on the left side, and before that building are two identical, smaller houses quite close to each other. The coin is between them. I predict some heavy swearing from your winch man - ignore him. * If you approach your first target of the second mission (the little boat) and look above it, you will notice something like a star, glowing in the darkness. Fly towards it at a height of around 620 to 650 feet. This coin is not so easy to get, because estimating your distance to it is very difficult. There is nothing else around you could relate it to. The wind doesn't help, either. Patience - you'll manage to get it. THIRD STAGE (Missoula Mts.) First Mission: The area of this stage is very big, and it is easy too get lost in there, especially at night. It involves quite long flying times, and you have to deal with big height differences. (Personally, I enjoy flying there the most.) It is very difficult to describe everything to the last detail, so I suggest you fly over the entire area a couple of times, following a certain pattern, in order to cover everything, and in order to get a general idea about the geography. I also suggest getting the coins this time in the order, in which I listed them. That way you will be able to identify the different locations much easier, since I related them to each other. * Turn slightly to your left at the heli port. You can see a very tall mountain in the distance. Its highest peak has a prominent, very sharply pointed tip. The coin is right over that tip. Remember that mountain and get the NEXT coin FIRST! * There is a little park in the middle of the town. The coin is hovering above the fountain. After you got it go to the mountain, I was talking about. After you got the coin from there turn again towards the town and the river, which leads from the town to the valley. * Follow the river until you reach the fork. Follow the left arm until you see quite high on the left side some plateaus in the snow. The second group of plateaus has one, which is higher than the rest - it almost reaches the forest. The coin is over that plateau; your altitude meter should indicate something around 1700 feet. Should it indicate more than 2000 feet, you probably have landed at the THIRD group of plateaus, which is a nice place, too; but there is nothing besides a pretty view. * Leaving the plateau, cross the river and fly over some more plateaus on the other side. Follow the snow-covered ridge slightly to your right until you reach a sharp drop. Following that drop descent in direction of the single building, sitting rather dangerously on a big rock. As you descent you will notice a group of trees near the houses, the inner ones forming a circle. The coin is in that circle. * Follow that same ridge from before to the top of the next mountain, where you will find a single hut and the coin behind it. The place is very close to the previous one - it should take you less than one minute! Second Mission: Since you know the terrain by now, I trust you'll find the locations without major problems. So the following coins are being introduced without any particular order. There is only one coin, for which you need the winch man. And that's very good news, because in order to get him down the rope, you have to go through the whole first and half of the second part of the mission! And this one is one of the nastier ones! You might need your time, to put the helicopter down there somehow, and to get to that rock upriver, but don't forget: You don't have to worry about a hard landing, just put that thing down, before you crash against the rocks! It might be tempting to finish the mission at the same time, since you already did half of it! Don't do it - you will probably only become frustrated: There is not much time left in that mission; and if you have to hurry too much, you might mess up things! As for the order, in which you get the coins: Some coins are on the same way, and - if you are quick - you can get two or more in the same try. Decide yourself. * One coin is floating above the church of the town. * (W) This coin is between the two groups of buildings at the other side of the park. Bobby, it's swinging time again...! * Fly directly into the direction your helicopter is headed to at the start of the mission. You'll reach a street near the side of a hill, coming out of a tunnel. Follow the street by going right. There will come a new tunnel section, covered with snow. Cross the little hill and continue to follow the street. You will see the coin, sitting before the entrance of another tunnel. * Follow the river and take the left arm. You have to fly for quite some time, passing both places of action! The coin will show up above the water. * Follow the river, and this time, take the right arm. Follow it until the river narrows and ends in a small lake. Right at the point, where it becomes narrow, fly up the left riverbank. You'll see three huts and some tents in front of them. The coin is in the open space between the huts. FOURTH STAGE (Hickory Canyon) First Mission: * This coin you already saw, when you cleared the mission: On the flat wagon of the train you have to fish the two guys from! To get this coin at the same time when you try to clear the mission is tempting, but -again- I advice against it. All the missions involving the winch are quite difficult! It happens very easily, that your man hits something. And that means, that your chances, to get a gold medal, shrink! If you try to get the coin, you increase the chances of getting minus points. (Whereas, if you do the coin separately, it doesn't matter how many times he bumps into the wall above the tunnels...) * If you lift off and follow the railway track to the left, you will come to a bridge. Follow the track until the bridge reaches the opposite riverbank. Look under the last segment of the bridge, before the concrete pillar, and right before the track starts to run on the usual bed again. This coin is missed very easily! * (W) There is another heli port, the one you use at the start of the next mission. You can find it easily by following the track behind your starting point. (You don't have to go all the way to that heliport; your target is actually before that. I just mentioned it to give a general idea about the direction.) After some flying along the rails you'll come to an open area with some houses and farms. Keep to the right side of the track and aim at the first twin set of silos. Both of the silos are made of white brick stones and have blue roofs. The problem is, that the coin is in BETWEEN the silos, and you need the winch man. You'll have to go to the bridge first, in order to get the winch man out. And that bridge is quite far from the silos! I also doubt, you will find the silos at once, coming directly from the bridge, after you got Bob out. It would be therefore not a bad idea, to use some time left after getting another coin, to locate those silos. Then, at your next trial, go to the bridge to get Bob down and fly directly from there to the silos. * There is some kind of steel structure at the complex of buildings at the right shore of the lake. It seems to be the place of a company, processing trees. The coin is clearly visible under that structure. Don't bother Bob with it - it would take to much time, and it can be easily done without him! * Behind that tree processing company's place there is a farm, surrounded by a fence. In the middle of the lawn there are some trusses of hay, the coin hovers above the top of them. Very easy. Second Mission: * When you start the mission, you will face a ridge in the distance. Fly to the right end of that ridge, where it starts to descent to the right. The coin is above a clearing in the forest. This one is not so easy! Patience. * On that very same ridge's LEFT high point, before the hill starts to loose height, there is a clearing in the forest. You will notice a group of 'non-fir' trees, forming a cross like shape, the coin being right in the middle of it. * Go to the same bridge, where you found the coin in the first mission. This time the coin is very close to the water, hiding in the construction of the red pillar, close to the riverbank near the landing point. * By now you know about the river and the lake. And the two red bridges: There were two coins under one of them. On the way from the bridge, where you got the two coins -the one close to the start of the first mission-, to the other one-, where you first met the train-, there is a dam. The coin is hovering above that dam in a quite narrow place. Don't bother Bob. You can get it without him. * Go under the second red bridge, the one where you were waiting for the train in the first mission of this stage. Follow the river to the left (not the one you followed on your approach!), until it broadens to a kind of small lake. Do not give up; it takes some time to get there! The coin becomes visible if you approach the middle of the lake. CONGRATULATIONS! You've got all of the coins! Now, go and get your new helicopters and enjoy doing the remaining missions. Don't forget though, that they will react differently to the controls. Try them out before you go to a mission! 2.6. The Missions 2.6.1. General Tactics Some basic things apply for all the missions, and if you are aware of them before you start a mission, you might have fewer problems, to finish it successfully. -CONTROL YOUR HEIGHT Pushing the L1 button makes your helicopter go faster. It also makes it gain height, and if you are not careful, you will reach a considerable height quite soon! To descent again at the rescue point might cost you a lot of time - sometimes more, than you've gained from your speedy approach! So - try to find a good balance between flying fast and avoiding excessive climbing. -DECIDE ABOUT THE VIEWS Find the most practical camera views and angles, and decide about the timing, when to change them. -DECIDE THE ANGLE OF APPROACH Depending on weather conditions and the specific circumstances at the rescue locations, there will be angles for your approach, which are more practical and less dangerous. Find the most promising angle and stick to it! That way you can establish a pattern, which you can practise each time you try the mission. You will get better each time, because by repeating the same maneuvers they will become more naturally and almost automatic! If you prefer the 'random' approach, you may get lucky some times, but if you have to start the mission again for some reasons, you will face the same difficulties again! -FIND THE FASTEST ROUTE The quickest way to reach your destination is not always found by following the orange arrow! If you know the terrain of the stage well, you may come up with faster routes. You can use clearings in the woods to keep your altitude low, and there are also ways, to use the wind to your advantage. In these cases you will have to take some kind of detour from the obvious, direct course, but you will ultimately gain some time! -DON'T WASTE TIME BY TRYING TO GET COINS Do them separately! You can look for them without any time pressure and as many times, as you like. There is no reason to waste the precious time of an actual mission for them. -DON'T HURRY AT THE RESCUE POINT On your approach flight you should try to be as fast as possible. At the actual rescue point the important thing is precision, not speed! Some maneuvers are very difficult and cannot be done quickly! But also seemingly easy moves you should not do in a hurry - mistakes will cost you more in the end than you hoped to gain! -WATCH YOUR SHADOW It indicates your actual position very clearly under all weather conditions, even at night.(!) (...which is a surprising, but nonetheless a welcome phenomenon). Use it to your advantage, especially at landings. -BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS! Try to memorize where all those rocks, trees, walls, pillars and posts are BEFORE you crash into them. Also: Don't do spectacular lift offs (...immediately going up, forward and left at the same time, like you always see the guys doing in that action movies...), before you really know where those masts are on the heliport! (I remember one of mine well - when I did a VERY elegant, YET powerful liftoff in the second Canyon mission, and crashed IMMEDIATELY in the mast next to the lift off point. The whole performance took less than a second, was quite embarrassing and actually very funny!! The only good thing about it was, that nobody was watching...) I will now try to explain the important details of each mission. I will not mention obvious things, which are clearly shown during the missions, such as the time or points needed to get medals, or the locations of the events, if they are not particularly difficult to find. If you think, that some important information is missing, don't hesitate to tell me. I will add it! FIRST STAGE (San Felnando) First Mission: OBJECTIVE: There has been an accident in the city. You have to pick up an injured person at the scene of event and to fly as quickly as possible to the hospital across the bay. PRACTICAL HINTS: The obvious thing would be to fly over those high buildings and approach the scene from above. It is possible to finish the stage in time by using this approach, but it takes a lot of time to reach the necessary height and to descent to street level again! It is also quite difficult - especially if you are new in the game - to maneuver your helicopter between all those buildings without hitting every second one. A much faster and safer way is: After take off fly straight ahead, climbing to about 200 ft. Keep this height and follow the street along the shore. You will soon notice two smaller, identical buildings of a light brown color ahead of you, to your left. BEFORE there is a quite big street, leading into the city. If you follow that street, you already should be able to see the target identification to your right. Follow the street to your right and gradually reduce height and speed. When you reach the target a red circle with a red cross in its middle will appear on the street. Steady your helicopter, hover above the cross (use different cameras to check your position!) and slowly descent. The tail of your helicopter should point now towards the shore. This is the position, which allows Bob to get to the victim without delay. If the tail points towards the place, where the victim is, he runs all the way around the helicopter instead of taking the quickest way! (I guess he does it in order to avoid the tail rotor...) Takes ages!! You have to press R1 to open the doors right after you touched down. After Bob got out, turn the helicopter slightly to the right, pointing the tail a bit more towards the direction he ran to. If you turn too far to the right though, he will start that jogging thing again on his return... (As always in crowded locations, use collective lever and pedals ONLY and SEPERATELY!) Wait a little bit until Bob returns, carrying the victim to the helicopter. Take off immediately after the doors close! Bob will swear at you, but you will save some precious seconds by leaving him behind. Turn the helicopter on the spot towards the direction your tail pointed last. If you have the confidence, fly between the buildings towards the hospital, keeping your height low. It is a little difficult, but it saves you the lengthy descent at the hospital. If not, climb to a safe height, fly to the hospital, trying to sink as early as possible. Take your time to steady the helicopter before the landing. (Remember the advices about separating the movements...) Second Mission: OBJECTIVE: There was a traffic accident on the bay bridge. A big tank trailer hangs halfway across the edge of the bridge. Pick it up with the rope of your helicopter and transport it to a safe place in the middle of the bridge, before it falls down into the water. PRACTICAL HINTS: While the problems in the first mission were mostly about timing, it becomes quite difficult on a 'technical' level already in this mission: You have to use the rope for the first time, and there is also now some wind present. Approach the bridge from the right, turning your helicopter towards the hills in the distance when reaching the point of action. The hospital side of the city should be on your right now and your helicopter should be positioned in a right angle to the street. (The reason for this is, that you can move easier towards the water without hitting things, after you picked up the trailer.) Steady the helicopter, push R1, choose a close view and slowly descent. Try to keep the same height, after the rope touches down in the designed area. (It doesn't have to touch the cross - put it anywhere within the circle and close to the trailer.) If you go down too much, the ranger on the ground cannot pick up the rope! Try to avoid any movements besides up and down. After the ranger gets hold of the rope and has put it around the trailer, carefully go over the trailer, hover, go up ONLY, then go forward a little in order to get some room. Stop, turn around and approach the target area in the middle of the bridge by going forward ONLY. Stop over the target area, go down slowly and drop the trailer carefully. After the drop, climb and go forward, getting away from the bridge safely and fast. Fly to the heliport on the hospital side. Land as usual: Carefully. You will most likely not clear this mission right away! The technique of controlling that rope needs some practice! Use some 'sparring' missions for that - missions you don't start with the intent to clear the stage, but with the intent to get better at dropping the rope. Especially if you are of old age or suffer of high blood pressure, I strongly recommend considering that kind of approach. (There is always the chance, you get lucky and clear the thing by 'accident'; just try to keep this possibility out of your mind during the training session.) SECOND STAGE (White Cliff) First Mission: OBJECTIVE: A passenger ship is sinking slowly but steadily near the coast. You have to rescue 8 passengers by using the winch. Lower Bob down and bring him as close as possible to the victims. He will grab them one by one and put them safely into the helicopter. Your helicopter has only place for four victims, so you'll have to go once to the improvised hospital in the middle of the mission to drop of a load of four there. PRACTICAL HINTS: (This is a very difficult mission. It can become quite frustrating, if you don't find a way soon, how to pluck those people from the ship, without damaging your rotor or hurting Bob. The game gives you some lenience with the winch man: Bob performs sometimes very impressive 'grabbing' acts, covering distances, which would require some REAL LOOOONG pair of arms... Take advantage of his surprising talents: You don't have to get him with pinpoint accuracy at the people; it is enough if he gets kind of close to them. Fly towards the sinking ship and keep low. Locate the person at the front of the ship, which will go into the water first. Turn your helicopter by using the right stick until Bob faces the ship. Get closer by moving in one dimension, stopping, moving in the next dimension, etc... Take your time and move with small, repeated movements. (Don't try to get the people in one fast, hazardous try. You might get lucky once or twice, but what you really are after, is developing a technique, which is reliable and which always works!) Next on your schedule are the child and the mother, standing at the bulwark slightly above. After you got both of them, either get the guy, standing on the deck above the two, or look for the man, who is going to fall (or already fell) in the water - the decision about that depends on the time you spent until now. If you were quick, take the closer one, the one near mother and child. (The other guy will be in the water that way, when you get to him, but there will be no damage yet; his life gauge should still be green.) You have to go to the 'hospital' tent and drop the four passengers there. Wait, until all of them have left the helicopter. Then return to the ship and get the rest of them. One will be in the water by now - get him first. One is going to suffer the same fate soon - find and get him next. You will know soon, who it is - the remaining other two ones are clearly out of danger! They will keep waving and their gauges stay unchanged until the very end. There are two major problems in this mission: Hitting the ship with your rotor and bumping Bob against the ship. Move slowly and use the cameras heavily! The winch should always face the ship; otherwise you'll hit something with the rotor! One last thing: Bathing Bob will make him angry; it doesn't get you minus points, though... Second Mission: OBJECTIVE: It is night and a heavy rainstorm reduces visibility to a minimum. You have to find a little boat, drifting in the sea and carrying a helpless man, waiting for help. After you get him with Bob's help safely on board, you have to search for a second person, which is somewhere not too far swimming in the water. PRACTICAL HINTS: (This mission is technically not so difficult. The problem is to find the second victim! There seems to be no foolproof way to locate him, besides having patience...) Fly out; locate the small boat and fish the man from it. On this mission you have to watch your altitude, because you have nothing around you, which you could use to estimate your height! It is very important to keep the same, quite low height - especially in the second part of the mission. This time I can't give you much more help, because this mission seems to be unpredictable, just like the storm itself! When you think, you finally got the right angle for your approach at the ship a wave will flush it away under your helicopter! The constantly present waves make it very difficult to keep the same height! And there seems to be no real pattern, where and when exactly the second guy will show up! I have drowned a fleet of helicopters in this mission, but - I got also platinum a couple of times! Meaning: A major factor here seems to be luck! (I would be only too happy, if somebody would proof me wrong on this one. I am not particularly fond of this stage...) One thing seems to be of importance, though: You have to stay as low as possible, when searching for the second guy! If you are too high, the AI doesn't let you find him! THIRD STAGE (Missoula Mts.) First Mission: OBJECTIVE: You are back at the controls of the big CH-27J. There was an accident in the mountains, involving a trailer truck transporting trees. You have to fly over the mountains to a valley and move some trees, which are in the way. Your last task is to transport the truck back over the mountains and drop it at the yard of its owner. PRACTICAL HINTS: (It is not overly difficult, to finish this mission in time - you have plenty of it. The real problem is getting a gold medal! It is very easy to make mistakes and get a sack full of minus points. The actual objective of the mission is: Using the time wisely, operating carefully and avoiding mistakes!) To reach the truck you have to fly over the mountains to your right. Fly to the right and forward, until you reach the end of the town. Look for the path between the two mountain ridges. Going through there saves you a lot of time. Don't climb more than absolutely necessary,- fly as closely to the ground as you can; as long as you don't see the shadow of your helicopter beneath, you are safe. After crossing the mountain ridge turn slightly to the left until you see a tunnel and a street coming out of it. Follow the street, starting to sink already. You will see a couple of cars parking at the edge of the street. The truck is near there, besides the street. You'll have to move three trees first. (... and you will understand soon, why there are so many possibilities to get minus points!) Steady the helicopter, choose a good camera and angle and go down slowly. Don't watch the rope while you try to make the helicopter steady - it will make you nervous and you will be misled about the amount of swinging your helicopter actually is doing! Don't try to compensate for the movements of the rope - you will overreact and make the helicopter swing even more! Watch the helicopter instead, calm its motions down and go down after the rope doesn't move anymore. After the rope is around a tree, go up STRAIGHT and quite quickly! That way you avoid hitting the trees or dragging your tree across the snow. Both will earn you minus points! Turn the helicopter with the right stick; go straightforward until you are near the dropping zone. Make last corrections in the usual way: Separately. You can drop the thing quite rudely; just keep it within the red circle. Go to the next tree in the same organized way. Use the step-by-step technique for all the remaining tasks, including the truck. After the truck is safely tied to your helicopter, start the return flight by taking the same way you came. Watch the shadow of the truck on the snow and look out for the trees. Your goal is near the town you started from - a yard slightly separated from the town. Put the truck down there very carefully - I ruined my chances for platinum there more than once ... Second Mission: OBJECTIVE: Night and snowstorm! Perfect conditions to try the lightest and weakest of your helicopters! The assumed location of the victim is on some small plateau at the shore of a river, surrounded by steep rock walls. Which is why you have to use the smallest possible helicopter! After you got the man out there, you have to search for a second one upriver, lying unconsciously on a rock in the middle of the river. Pick him up and transport both men quickly to the next hospital! PRACTICAL HINTS: (This is for me the most difficult mission in the game! It resembles the second mission of the previous stage, but has some extra surprises for you, in case you found it to be too easy. There is plenty of wind, too, but this time it makes you not only miss your target, but also makes you crash into rock walls, you aren't even able to see because of the weather! Granted, the second target is easier to find, but to pluck the guy from that rock without accident, seems to be the ultimate challenge of the game. AND you have to get them to the hospital as fast as possible with that grasshopper of a helicopter! The makers gave this mission 3 difficulty stars out of 4, the same they gave the stage's first mission and the previous stage's second one!! I cannot really agree about this - I believe THIS mission to be the major challenge in the game. (Many other games also have the most difficult boss in the stage BEFORE the final one...) Enough complaining - my real point is: Don't give up at this point of the game! It is a difficult mission, but you will do it somehow. I had to 'retry' many times, too. Don't get upset and try different tactics. Luck also might help...) Follow the river after take off. Stay close to the river surface and try to go straight by compensating for the wind, using the right stick. (It gives you a nice taste how it is to fly a helicopter without torque compensation...) When the target shows up, keep to the right and turn around, facing the landing spot. Approach the plateau in a straight line and land as fast as possible, your tail facing towards the river. Don't try to get your helicopter in a longer hover at that place - there is too much wind and not enough room for that! If you see, that you can't do a proper landing, go back to the river and try again. I recommend going for a hard and quick, but relatively accurate landing, rather than risking a lot of minus points by trying to control your helicopter in that cursed place. When the guy is finally on board, you have to search for one more weekend adventurer, having terminated his ambitions on a lonely rock in the middle of the river. Get to him, before it becomes a final termination by following the left river arm. It will take some time to reach that rock - don't give up and - don't crash! There are some very sharp turns, and the wind doesn't help, either! Fishing the 'customer' from the rock is very similar to the first part of the previous stage's second mission. The only, small difference is, that you have MUCH less space. (If you are oversensitive, you might get the impression, that I don't really like this mission so much...) Your tail always should point away from the closest rock wall (meaning: it should point to the opposite direction you came from - keep it possibly parallel to the river.), and your height shouldn't change much. Easily said, I know! But, I've been through it, too - be assured of my compassion! After you got the guy, go to the hospital as fast as you can, taking a left at the fork. After that, take basically the same route as in the first mission of the stage. Stay as low as possible and land calmly - the real problems are over by now. FOURTH MISSION (Hickory Canyon) First Mission: OBJECTIVE: There are two people on a train, which is bound to derail: It cannot be stopped and approaches a curve on a bridge, where it will fall down into the river below! You have to get both men from the train, before that happens! PRACTICAL HINTS: (This seems to be a difficult mission at first. After finding the best angle of approach (...and having a little luck) it can be done very quickly.) Fly to the red bridge, crossing the river. (There are two red bridges: One near your start point and one past the settlement, which is ahead of you, after you take off and cross the hill. The bridge you have to go to is the latter one.) If you arrive fast enough, the train will be just before the bridge. The easiest way is to get the man at the end of the train first. (There is another one at one of the diesel engines in front.) Bring your helicopter to a height, which lets Bob hover above the train. He is not out yet, but by now you can estimate, where he will be. If you fly parallel to the train, it is very easy, to hit it with your rotor. I found it easier, to fly side wards, and to approach the train with a forward motion. If you get him very quickly, you can try to get the other one also, before the train enters the first tunnel! Be careful - the tunnel comes quite soon! If you didn't get the second one (or either of them) by now, don't panic - there is still plenty of time left. Climb over the hill and be careful, that Bob doesn't hit any trees! Wait at the exit of the tunnel and use the time to position your helicopter. The distance to the next tunnel is much longer this time. You should be able to get them now. After having both of them in your helicopter you have to return to your start point. Try to keep low and fast. If you are too low you will hit some trees, which will slow you down - it doesn't cost you minus points, though. One last point: You will see a coin, tempting you by sitting within easy reach on a flatbed wagon in the middle of the train. Don't try to get it, if you are after a gold medal! You might be lucky, but the chances that Bob will hit something are too big! Get it later; it will still be there. Second Mission: OBJECTIVE: There is a fire at a tree processing company near the river. You have to assist the fire fighters on the ground by using your water cannon. You might run out of water in the middle of the mission. In this case, fly over the lake, keep low and hover over the surface to fill up your water tank. PRACTICAL HINTS: (Your last mission! Not an easy one, but not the most difficult one, either. You might need some retries, but you'll do it!) Cross the ridge, keeping slightly to the right. As usual - keep low,- there is quite some descent necessary at the fire site. The major problems of the mission are: The wind, the confined space and the back thrust, caused by your water cannon. Try to steer frontal into the wind. You will not always be able to do that, so - constantly compensate for the wind with the right stick. Use frequent and small motions to keep the helicopter from turning too much. You don't have to keep it perfectly still, - just get it under control. You can try to neutralize the back thrust from the cannon by pushing the left stick forward, when you press the R1 button. It might be a good idea again to 'sacrifice' a trial for practicing this technique. As for the confined space: Watch your tail all the time! The first priority is, not to hit too many things! You have plenty of time, to put the fires out. You don't have to be as close as possible to them - actually you get minus points for getting too close or for flying over them! You should start with the fires, which are not being attended to by the ground troops. (There are some fires, which are not identified by the orange target indicators. Leave them alone: You don't have to extinguish them to clear the mission.) Shoot your cannon in short, well aimed bursts; don't waste the water. That way you should be able to put out two fires, before you have to refill! If the tank is empty keep calm! Gain some height first, then go to the lake without hitting any of the buildings. Hover over the surface and try to position the helicopter for the return to the fire. (Approach the surface slowly - the hose is quite short! Deep down that lake rests quite a number of my helicopters - silent witnesses of one pilot's panic and carelessness...) After you return to the fire you will see that the ground rangers already took care of the fires to some degree. Finish off what is left and return to the heliport. Lean back, enjoy the ending movie and ponder about your next goals: Beating it again in ONE try; getting ALL platinum; writing a better guide than THIS one... 3. CONCLUSION Let me repeat the points, I believe to be the most important ones, one last time: Use Normal Control Switch the control level to EASY Use different cameras and camera angles Choose the far behind camera in a slightly above position for your standard view Watch your shadow Separate your movements Don't hurry in the actual rescue operation Get the coins separately Plan and organize your mission schedules Don't get angry Have fun! It is possible to beat the game with a flight time of around three hours (or even less). Nobody can do this in the first or even the second attempt, - I needed MUCH more the first couple of times! It doesn't actually matter, how fast you can beat the game; my point is to show, that the game is less difficult than you might think in the beginning. I hope you could use some of my advice and start to like the game better, in case you didn't like it right from the beginning, as I did. If I did a major mistake in my rather lengthy 'work', - either concerning technical or grammatical aspects - don't hesitate to tell me! I will make the necessary correction(s) immediately. 4. AIR RANGER/AIR RANGER 2 - MINI SYNOPSIS While I was at this FAQ I got my hands on Air Ranger 2. It was very tempting to do a FAQ for it at the same time. But I think it is not really necessary, at least not now. There is already a nice FAQ from 'wellgert' about it, which helps people who can't read the manual (like me) and explains the basics of the stages. I tried the first couple of missions, which does not entitle me, to give a final judgment about the game. But I can draw some comparisons of both games, which might give some help in case you want to play one of them, but don't want to get both. First the obvious question: Did they include a training stage? Answer: YESSSS, you bet they did! There is almost more than I would ever have asked for: A set of training drills concentrates on certain maneuvers ONLY, featuring a quite snappy female instructor. Then, after you pass all of them, you open the 'Trial' section and face several, mission-like challenges. Actually they are a kind of 'disguised' training stage and prepare you for the maneuvers needed in the missions! Finally you receive your license and become an official member of the Air Ranger team! Getting your license allows you to tackle your first mission; and you will be well prepared! This feature is really a nice surprise and will make the game more popular than the first one, I am sure. Next 'obvious' question: Did they change the controls? They did: The helicopters react now faster to the controls and it is easier now, to prevent the infamous 'swing swaying' phenomenon of the first version. Now, this is only my modest and private opinion (- author approaches his favored 'shelter desk' -), but I am NOT so happy with the 'new' feeling of the instruments. The helicopters seem to be lighter than before, and sometimes they behave like being led by an invisible wire or a similar device, which basically keeps them on their forward path. Landing is also quite different: The machines keel sometimes almost over if you land them hard, balancing for moments in very dramatic stances - leaving you waiting and guessing which way they will finally fall down. While this may be a progress from the first version because you now survive lousy landings (...if you do THIS kind of landings in the 'original' your heli is gone! No anxious moments, no dramatic balance miracles - scrap yard it is.), it takes away a lot from the reality of the original. 'wellgert' nicely described one of the trial stages as a kind of 'Crazy Taxi' for helicopters. This particular stage for instance is actually fun - picking up people from roofs and getting them down on another roof without caring for the repair costs - but that has not much to do with a helicopter simulator. The new control made a step towards the 'RC feeling', and whether you appreciate this development or not depends on your expectations. Shortly the other innovations: You now get points instead of medals, which you can use to buy new helicopters. You get them quite easily - just repeat some of the trials often enough to earn the necessary points. Your instruments underwent some upgrading - you have for example a compass now, which makes orientation much easier. There are more options now to do something 'productive' if you don't want to (or can't go to) the missions yet. You can play and improve your skills in the trial stages, AND get some 'cash' points out of it! The missions themselves seem to become more complex and dramatic. To come to an impartial conclusion is very difficult for me: I really did like the straight forward, no nonsense, down to earth and real to life approach of the first Air Ranger game. There is no audience applauding you, you don't have to transport cute and colorful balls. You don't have to fly through the seemingly inevitable rings. Your job is not really flashy or dramatic - it is a thing SOMEBODY has to do. BUT, it has to be done professionally: You need skills and experience. (One scene in the original game can explain this much better than I can do: After you got the eighth guy from the sinking ship in the first of the 'White Cliff' missions, Bob sneezes during the flight 'home' and says: "Brrr, that WAS cold, I wonder if there are any showers over there..." That is a kind of modest reward for a guy, who picked eight people from a ship, hanging at the end of a rope, being tossed around by a mediocre pilot like your humble author is one!) In Air Ranger 2 people WILL applaud you for flying through some... - rings or successfully carrying or hitting a beautiful... - ball. Your reward is instantly, but also is tasting a little stale... Don't misunderstand - I don't regret to have gotten Air Ranger 2. I will enjoy it and beat it. If you want an entertaining flight game, you will be perfectly happy with the game. If you want a helicopter simulator, there is only one game on this planet, which I would recommend you! 5. VERSIONS/UPDATES Version 1.1. Typos removed / TABs removed (I didn't use TABs, my overeager computer did that!) / Paragraphs 4 and 5 added / Got some new cheap gags from my ghostwriter and put them in. This was one of them. 6. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND DISCLAIMER * I want to thank GameFAQs, my favorite site on the Internet! I've read many great guides from them, and I hope this modest FAQ shows, that I learned a little bit from them. * I also want to thank ASK for making a beautiful and well-made game! It was the game I was waiting for (without knowing it), when I got my PS2! * Air Ranger is designed by ASK, a company to which I have no connection of any kind. I have no other personal interests by writing this guide than to help people to beat the game, who already own it or plan to buy it. I have no financial interest of any kind - the point of this guide is not to advertise the game, but to explain it. * I am not a pilot. I also am not an engineer. I tried to be careful, but I might have written some things about helicopters, which are wrong! Don't sue me! Tell me - I will correct. * I am not a native English speaker. There will possibly be tons of mistakes and strange expressions in this FAQ. Don't tell me the small mistakes - my email account is too small for that. Do tell me the major mistakes - especially if they make things hard to understand! 7. COPYRIGHT I, Clemens Doll wrote this FAQ in May/June 2002 and therefore am the sole owner of its copyrights. If it will be accepted, I will allow GameFAQs to use it at their discretion. If somebody else wishes to use it for anything besides reading it, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org 60