Argo puts you in the cockpit of an UH-1H Huey as an experienced Hellenic Army Aviation pilot, who was just transferred to the Hellenic Navy under the command of the FFG-46 Argo. The ship was recently obtained and travelled to Georgia to participate in large scaled NATO exercise called "Sea Breeze". This year, Batumi port is being used as a base for all the allied Naval forces. Greece is also participating with AH-64s, Chinooks. Since your UH-1 is the only one during this exercise that conducts air-naval operations, you will have to prove that UH-1's are not outdated and capable for many tasks adding value in any kind of operations.
So one originality of this campaign stems from the home base: the “Argo” frigate, anchored along with a whole fleet, a couple of miles off the coast of Batumi. For some missions you will take-off from there however on many occasions you will have to pass the night inland, in contradiction with the common belief that Navy pilots always return to their home ship after their duty.
I must confess that I am the kind of user who often skip the situation briefing and focus on the mission objectives, in order to jump into action as fast as possible! At most, I do a quick reading and let my imagination work out the rest. After all, imagination plays a great role in the immersion process, does it? However, for the purpose of this review, I read more carefully than I usually do. It turns out that the developer did a very good job as far as story telling is concerned. The copywriting features clear and easy to understand english and all missions blend seamlessly into a nice and consistent storyline. Those of you who like preparing a mission in every details while not in-game, will certainly enjoy the complete set of 15 pdf files comprising all data for each mission (for an example: click here), as well as a high definition map. To meet all tastes and habits, it would be convenient to have key mission data available on the kneeboard as it is fast accessed through a unique and easy key press (K), without having to leave the game.
Sea, Air, Land
The Argo Campaign has that in common with the Navy SEALs, that is you will travel through these three elements. I cannot refrain from thinking that the choice of the sea as a starting point has subtly something to do with the origin of the development team, be it conscious or unconscious. The sea is everywhere in the Greek landscape. From rugged mountain tops to low-lying plains, the sea is rarely out of sight.
The Argo frigate is your home base.
My experience in DCS has been almost exclusively with helicopters so far and a campaign is always a good opportunity to discover and get acquainted with new spots. In that idea, the Batumi area is certainly a place of choice for variety: canyons, big rivers, hills, plains, mountains… so many identifiable landmarks for navigating by visual rules. And the developers have populated this natural landscape with some custom scenery items such as FARPs, UAV station, hospital, and more to meet the campaign requirements. Flying in the area is a real pleasure for the eyes.
A comprehensive experience
Writing a review on a campaign is always a delicate time: you need to find a balance between giving a good picture of what the users can expect on the one hand, and revealing too much and thus spoiling the joy of the discovery on the other hand. So I will give a bold sneak peak on the "what" and leave the "when" and "how". In this case the big idea is that you will fly a very wide (if not full) array of type of missions and activities:
Actually, I can think of only one missing genre: air to air combat. In the end, it is as if the developer wanted to offer a all-in-one experience. From that point of view, the goal is 99% achieved! On top of that, and like in a good action movie, you will also get a couple of cool special effects and nice surprises.
Unrealistic or very challenging?
Positively adding to that diversity are the different weather conditions (clear to no visibility with in-between nuances) and the time (early in the morning, midday, night) at which you fly. And that brings a transition to 2 or 3 controversial missions where the player has to operate his aircraft in a stormy black night without the possibility to use NVG (Night Google Vision), cope with actions going on, on the ground, and even land on a special place heavily loaded. While some users points out that such extreme conditions are highly unrealistic, the developer argues that on some occasions real-life pilots had to face similar situations in "blackops" that remains unknown to the public.Flying by a pitch black night.
The fundamental discussion is whether we should behave in a simulator as we would in real life or alternatively take some distance from reality to explore the limits of what would normally be considered as too dangerous. Here, you have to answer for yourself according to your own sensitivity and from there see if those 2 missisions are a showstopper from you acquiring the campaign or not.Yes, you can do it!
What it takes to win
Without surprise, those 2-3 extreme missions happen to be also the most difficult ones. "Will I be able to achieve those missions" is a quite legitimate question. On a facts-based point of view, I have not seen anyone saying on forums that he gives up because the task is impossible even if some decided to skip one mission due to its unrealistic nature. There are those people who succeed right out from the first attempt and those who have to try 8-9 times before coming to a happy end. I and Ray, contributing reviewer for this article, are medium-level helicopter pilots in DCS and we do consider that the rest of the missions (12-13 out of 15) are of a medium difficulty. Overall, if the stock UN campaign was for beginner-intermediate pilots, Argo would be the logical continuation for intermediate - advanced. Here again, it is up to you to see if you want to make progress and improve your flying skills in all areas with a higher difficulty campaign or not.Search And Rescue at sea.
One characteristic of the Argo Campaign is that all missions have a final objective and many sub-goals. Practically, you always have a subtle combination of the several genres mentioned above. This has two main consequences. First, a positive one: whenever you finish a mission, you have a sweet feeling of density and satisfaction. Your day was full and you got the job done!
No matter the subject, it is never easy to satisfy everyone. In future campaigns for the Huey, if the flight time to get to the heart of the action had to be cut down, I would suggest by a 4/5 or a 3/4 maximum. But no more. In real life, 20 to 30 min of ingress time is certainly not absurd. Chatting voice-over between crew members, which is a bit lacking at this time, could help to break the monotony of the flight. Another recommendation would be to announce in the situation briefing the estimated time to complete the mission so that users who cannot spend a “long” period of time on their computers (eg. due to the Women’s Acceptance Factor ;-) or other personal constraints) can plan their game session accordingly. Alternatively, on the player side, the time compression is a feature available anytime to shorten the flight time.
The power of words
300 voice-over herald the storyline by bringing human presence into your flights. It is very likely that Greg, the team leader, ask several members of his squadron to contribute. Apart from two US American actors who come into play in the last mission, the voices are mostly European. So they might sound cute if you are a native english speaker, or easier to understand if you are European.
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