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FEATURE ARTICLE  

Combat Flight Sim 2: Air War in the Pacific 

2,001 

by David Silbergeld 

During World War II, the United States took young men from every walk of life and made combat pilots of them. That’s something that this sim will do. You start out as rookie pilot, enter flight training, develop a sharp level of combat skills, become seasoned in challenging individual combat encounters, until you become skilled enough to be an ace, with five enemy kills.

Microsoft’s first iteration, Combat Flight Simulator 1 (CFS-1), stepped into air combat in Europe. Now, Microsoft introduces an improved, and–believe it or not–a more challenging sim, Combat Flight Simulator 2 (CFS-2), air combat in the Pacific.

This sim is designed to make you a fighter pilot. It is complemented with inputs from Gen. Joe Foss, Congressional Medal of Honor winner and U.S. ace, and Saburo Sakai, highest-scoring surviving Japanese ace, who helped to shape this sim into a realistic flight experience. You get to meet them both in the sim, via the Pilot’s Handbook that tells each of their stories and sets the background for the Pacific air battles that are part and parcel to this sim.

You get to fly both U.S. and Japanese aircraft in more than 120 challenging missions. These include such aircraft as the U.S. Corsair– Pappy Boyington’s favorite, nicknamed the "Ensign Eliminator," or the Japanese A6M2 "Zeke" or A6M5 "Zero." Actually, there are a total of seven different aircraft that you can fly. The others are the P-38 Lightning, F4F-4 Wildcat, F6F-3 Hellcat, and N1K2-J George. Each has virtual cockpits and working gauges.

You can experience exciting carrier takeoffs and landings, while relying on the LSO (Landing Signal Officer) visual signals and your flying skills. If that doesn’t test your skills, add realistic cloud cover, haze, rain and turbulence to this exciting sim, as well as high-resolution terrain with outstanding detailed geographic features developed from Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2000 Sim (soon to be covered in this magazine).

CFS-2 is no easy-ride-in-the-sky simulation. You must be always sharp and alert while flying a mission because of the sim’s unique artificial intelligence (AI) feature. AI is a self-motivated program that never gives you a break, constantly creates challenging situations and action, and seems to have a single-minded drive–to get you.

Constant awareness, flight skills, navigational decisions, and imminent air-to-air combat will put you in a cold sweat. If that doesn’t keep you busy enough, add visual features such as realistic battle damage, muzzle flashes, tracers, splashes, weather (haze and rain), low ammunition and just enough gas for a one-pass carrier landing. The only thing missing here is the smell of combat (oil, smoke, gas, cordite, and–of course–raw sweat), which is probably on someone’s future planning board.

To make the game more realistic, add a joystick, rather than rely on the keyboard or mouse. And if you’re a real sim fan, get one with force feedback, such as Microsoft’s. Next, someone will recommend a sim-seat with integrated sound and engine and gun vibration. Don’t laugh. There is one on the market.

Missions include torpedo attacks, ground-support assaults (bombing and strafing missions) and air-to-air combat, all culminating in the return to the carrier and a safe landing. You can modify your missions under a feature called "flexible-mission structure" that trigger individual player actions ("Bail-out! You’re in flames!"). Players can take advantage of their wingman’s AI and dog-fighting abilities, issue orders, and get feedback on their tactical situation. Or they can just sit back and get shot down.

System Requirements: PC with 266 MHz or higher, Windows 95 or the newer Windows 2000, 32 MB (W95)/64MB (W2000), 4X+ CD-ROM, Super VGA (800x600) 16-bit color monitor, DirectX(r)7 (included on CD), 400 MB HD, mouse (joystick and/or flight yoke is recommended), API-compatible sound card with speakers, 3-D graphics accelerator card. Multiple-player requirements include 28.8 kbps or faster modem. To play on the MSN Gaming Zone, following browsers are required: MS Explorer 4.0 or later or Netscape Communicator 4.0 or later.

Among the great features of CFS-1 were the add-on third-party developers with features, missions, and battles beyond those supplied with the original program. I readily can envision that these add-on sims will follow CFS-2.

For those unfamiliar with all of this, take a look at "Abacus" add-on sims such as:

For a lot more on add-ons and other flight sims, try Full Throttle Magazine, which by the time that you read this will have changed its name to Flight Simulator World. It’s got all of the technology, Web sites, sources, and much more. It’s got everything that flight sim enthusiasts love and need. The magazine is at the same address as above. You can e-mail them for subscription info at sales@ftmagazine.com, or phone them at (800) 821-1707. This is one of the best sources for flight sim info.

Dr. David LL. Silbergeld is a member of the Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict Division of the National Defense Industrial Association. His e-mail address is dlsilber@epix.net.

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