One day I'm going to call their bluff. Every time a flight sim designer demonstrates their 'highly accurate' terrain data, we're told how it's absolutely spot on - every hill, every dale, every road, river and rail is in exactly the same position as the real-world equivalent. One day I'm going to travel to one of these places, make a map and come back and compare. Then we'll see, oh yes.
Flanker 2.0 uses actual classified Russian military satellite imagery (they wouldn't tell me where they got it, but one suspects ex-KGB staff looking to make a quick capitalist buck) to map an area of land near Azerbaijan that is so detailed the designers can depict every building in the area on screen. And to be fair to them, it seems to work. The amount of detail on screen is remarkable, putting several civil aviation sims to shame. These actually feel like real cities as you soar over them. And when you compare them side by side to the satellite images, you can see just how close it all looks.
The other thing that hits you is how fast it seems to move. This is actually a trick of the eye. The frame rate isn't significantly higher than that of any other large-scale military sim out there. Instead the graphics boys have added layers of 'noise' to the ground textures to add to the impression of speed. This too seems to work, although what it'll look like once the skies are filled with planes is anybody's guess.
Flanker 2.0's main hook is, naturally, that we're sitting in the planes that are usually found on the enemy lists in other sims. The initial reaction is that it all looks a bit ugly, but as the designers explain, the Russians build their hardware to do a job, not to grace the pages of Cosmo. So say a dogfight ensues, and perhaps the ugliest HUD of all time appears. Big, thick yellow circles fill the screen, clashing garishly with the blue steel cockpit interior. But the target explodes and it all seems very smooth. Shoot first, pose later.
Speaking of cockpits, the whole thing will be in full 3D all the time - no need to switch views, as with other games. All the dials and buttons continue to work as you move your head (they seem to have taken a leaf out of the FPS book here, as you control your head movement with the mouse) or lock on to a target.
There's a lot still to go into Flanker 2.0 at the moment. Weather effects will apparently be so detailed that clouds will actually have water densities that affect infra-red missiles as they fly through them; a mission editor enables you to create complex and detailed scenarios that can be distributed at will; collision detection is mapped right down to the surfaces of the planes, rather than the standard method of surrounding each unit with a solid box, meaning bullets and missiles can fly right between the tail struts without hitting anything. The list goes on and on. And it all sounds rather impressive. The only fly in the ointment is the lack of a dynamic campaign engine, so how it fares against F-22: Total Air War or Falcon 4.0 we'll have to wait and see.
Download Flanker 2.0
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP