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Longbow 2, Jane’s Combat Simulations, Austin, Texas, $59.95.

Longbow 2, the sequel to the well-received AH-64D Longbow, is new from Jane’s Combat Simulations. Welcomed universally by gamers and critics alike, Longbow 2 is considered an exemplar of a properly done combat simulation. This versatile helicopter simulation is satisfyingly complete. It allows virtual passage into the cockpits of the McDonnell Douglas AH-64D Apache, Sikorsky UH-60A/L Black Hawk utility helicopter, or the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior.

Signs of attention to detail and consideration for the user abound. The documentation is a healthy 200-plus pages filled with tutorials, history, illustrations and specifications. The software features training missions, an excellent flight model and outstanding graphics (especially if you have a PC equipped with the 3-Dfx graphics chip). Users will no doubt be amused to discover that the voice of the instructor pilot conveys boredom or sarcasm, based on the user’s performance.

Longbow 2 remains a complex simulation for any player even with the excellent play aids. Successful flights require a practiced knowledge of cockpit systems negotiation, and juggling the helicopters’ multifunction displays and sensor modes will keep even the most capable users busy in the heat of battle.

Missions in Longbow 2 are not historical, but Aviation History readers will find the campaigns quite plausible. One simulates exercises at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., and the other follows a hypothetical scenario based in Iran but extrapolated from facts and history gleaned from Jane’s resources.

Users flying over the simulated battlefields are bombarded with input from other battlefield combatants, co-pilots and cockpit systems. If desired, players can take a role in managing ordnance configurations, squadron assignments and flight plans. Strategic, visual and aural features provide players with a taste of authentic U.S. Army aviation.

Sequels are commonly mere incremental improvements over the original, but Longbow 2 is a product much larger and thorough than its predecessor, and is highly recommended.

Bernard Dy