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Flanker 2.02: Sweating the Little Stuff
By Bob "Groucho" Marks

There are instances when the fanfare surrounding the release of a patch can rival the release of the original sim. Deep fundamental flaws are fixed, new features are implemented, big bugs are squashed, and what was unplayable is suddenly opened up. When this happens, a resounding cry of joy rises from the newsgroups, and national holidays are declared (OK, sim geeks call in sick to work- but close enough).

4 of a kind in formation
Fig. 1. 4 of a kind

Guess what? Strategic Simulations Incorporated has released the second Flanker 2 patch, the installation of which creates- wait for it- Flanker 2.02. Clever people, those SSI guys. So, bud- to paraphrase the great philosopher, Jeff Spiccoli- where's the party?

The fact that F2 is getting patched at all is reason for a shindig, and is testament to the team at SSI's determination. Mattel, the other mega-conglomo toy corporation, owns Mindscape. Mindscape owns SSI. SSI makes combat simulations, a genre that of late has been getting stomped by such highbrow fare as Varmint Hunter on the sales shelves of your local Comp Useless-A. Recent history being what it is, the tenacity of Carl Norman and the rest of the Flanker guys is admirable.

Great, cool, fine, you say- but what did they patch? Did they include a dynamic campaign? More missions? A printable coupon for a life-sized Vladimir Putin inflatable doll? No, you wish, and huh-uh. What they've done is fixed some of the minor annoyances that have, well, annoyed the Flanker Faithful for a while now.

Low Flight
Fig. 2. Low Flight

This is not a Read Me file, so I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow account of what they've done. There are some big improvements:

  • The SAMs are no longer the Terminator Hunter-Seeker omnipotent death robots they once were. This is indeed a great boost to the playability of F2. Get down so low that small animals and plants with shallow roots are being ingested into the twin AL-35F turbofans, and you've actually got a chance of the missile in question will take out a day-care center or hillside instead of you. This is great…watching an S300 pop up over a ridge to kill my frantically evading ass was giving me the blues.
  • Your AI wingman is much less likely to play high-subsonic tag with you. In fact, I have yet to collide with my number two since the patch. Looks like SSI finally gave them eyes. Some AI weapons deployment tactics have been improved as well.
  • You now have tailhook idiot light in the Su-33 cockpit. No more having to switch to external view to make sure the hook is hanging.
  • The trim, a BIG deal in an analog flight control system like in Sukhoi's finest, actually works. Finally.
  • The helmet-mounted HUD works in every mode…a definite SA must with no lift line.
  • SSI has finally included some audio cues- engine sounds, touchdown, and cannon fire - to increase SA somewhat. Yes, I know you can download a hack for the engine sound, but that one sounded like a dog whistle. Annoying. SSI's new sound is much better.


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