Great philosophical questions of our time number 216 – what is a Flanker that is flying solo? Surely not a flanker, as it is neither flanking nor being flanked by anything. It must be a constant dichotomy for the pilots of these planes:
“Ivan, come on we’ve got to scramble!!”
“Sorry, too much potato-juice last night, I can’t make it”
“For goodness’ sake, I’ll look stupid on my own if I take the Flanker!”
“Well take the bloody Mig then”
“I can’t find the keys!”
And so forth. Silliness aside, Flanker 2.0 comes with everything you’d expect from a flight simulation – a shiny CD, a handy control reference booklet, and an instruction manual you could swat blackbirds with, if you were so inclined. What’s not included is a sedative for when you find out how much hard drive space the “standard” install takes (500MB), and how fast a machine you need to get the best out of the graphics.
To be fair it’s not as bad as it could be – even on an old and slow Pentium II, the game runs quite well with the textures turned down. The visuals themselves are rather splendid, the landscapes are good looking, and the planes and objects even better, with subtle curves, shading and fine touches of detail.
Authenticity is a big part of the Flanker 2.0 experience too – when flying the Russian plane the cockpit is detailed as it would be in real life, complete with Russian lettering on the HUD (and accented speech). The usual plethora of options these games throw at the player is also present, with everything from diverse training missions, instant combat, masses of one-off scenarios and of course the huge campaign mode.
But be warned: although there are difficulty levels that can be set in the missions, even the average skill is tough and the enemy pilot’s AI is very smart. Put them on the top level and you’re in for a real hard time – hardcore flight addicts will love it! Fortunately for the less skilled Top Guns out there, the training missions are actually very good and highly instructive, with many facets of the game covered.
Also worthy of mention is the highly accurate modelled landscape – set over the Black Sea region, the geography apparently corresponds very closely with the real thing – and the good 16 player multiplayer support. This is going to be a big hit at flight sim LANs, that’s for sure.