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Combat Flight Simulator 2: WWII Pacific Theater
By Jim "Twitch" Tittle
I believe that the A.I. may have been upped just a bit. This is good for most of us wanting a challenge. Certainly A.I. maneuvers have improved since the pre-Beta. There is more vertical action and even a G4M Betty will move in the vertical plane within its limits.
The enemy A.I. is good but limited realistically by the physics of their aircraft. A.I. P-39s won't be easily snapping around onto the tail of your Zero. If you use your plane's strengths you will do well. You can dominate a lesser plane like a P-39 or Wildcat to a lesser extent. But make no mistake, an ace in a P-39 will give you a handful. Is the A.I. beatable? Yes, but it will take time. How long depends on your simming experience. I feel I did "good" but not "great" since I have a lot of time behind plastic joysticks. During the couple of weeks I tested the Beta I didn't feel I was easily beating it on tougher settings.
Quick Combat allows you to get combat experience before you enter into a career and campaign. You can pilot any of the fly-able fighters against any other plane in the sim, even ones from your side. You can do what real pilots did in mock combat-- take on your comrades in the same plane or allied ones. Of course the A.I. in the sim actually shoots at you!
You can begin your career at any segment of the sim timeline: early through to late war. You fly the appropriate plane of the era. The campaigns are broken into the major historic actions of the war. You can re-arrange your wingmen positions before the flight. Before each mission is a briefing and audio side line of a pilot reflecting on the status of things. As with most combat sims you get a happy debrief if you've achieved the mission goals and a very angry C.O. if you do not. You receive medals and recognition certificates as you progress. Everything is done in a "comic book drawing" style format. Innovative, but I got tired of all the screens after a while. There are several campaigns for each career with many missions, thirty or so for each campaign. The career/campaigns seem to be adequate, but even the long ones may not be enough for veteran sim pilots.
Custom missions are infinitely variable in set up details. Look for an upcoming article on the Mission Builder.
There are many, many pre-scripted, historical missions that set you up in the basic engagement conditions Bong, Foss, McCampbell, Sakai, Nishizawa and Sugita flew. I like this. Not since Aces Over Pacific/Europe have we had such a complete set of scenarios like these.
The same cockpit instrument detail is carried over from CFS to CFS2. All the instruments are very legible. For still more detailed control, you can choose mixture and prop controls, once you get accustomed to the planes. War Emergency water injection (WEP) noticeably changes the engine pitch as well as speed but is not available on all aircraft. You can use a HUD if desired and you can padlock your target. The HUD color is changeable to suit your preference.
There is a setting which shows only the virtual cockpit canopy frame from a pilot's eye vista if you are disoriented with the other two views. And you can jump outside the plane to see how great you look and to survey the damage which appropriately illustrates where you got hit. I can't say the damage is as good as that seen in previews of MicroProse's upcoming B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty Eighth but it is far above that found in European Air War (EAW). That flak hole in your cowl will visibly stay there and oil will leak if the damage demands it. Plus you will hear and feel, if you are enabled, different sizes of ordnance hitting you.
Target tracking and the pilot name identifications can be toggled off once you grow accustomed to things. You can also invoke a quick reference screen with the F2 key if you forget a key command.
The overall view picture is superb. On about any resolution you get a better picture than EAW. I especially like the fact that once you are close to an enemy he does not flit off the screen even if you are 50 meters behind him. Certainly you can overspeed and lose him, but you can close in tight and blast him before he turns off-screen and you must re-acquire. And in this sim you do not need range numbers mucking up the screen to tell distance. You can do very well shooting without them. Blackouts and redouts are not overdone and you will not want to turn it off. Throttle or joystick 4-way hat snap views work well and most of you will like the fact that you will see the real fuselage and/or canopy structure in the six o'clock view.
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