Flanker 2.0

A scripted campaign flames out Flanker’s potential.

9Flanker 2.0 is an updated version to the original SU-27 Flanker, a hardcore flight sim with a Russian bent. The original designers have evaluated tons of feedback regarding the first offering and have implemented many fixes and improvements. The end result is a great flight sim, but one which still lagged behind Flanker 4.0 as far as level of detail and features. In some areas it seems like the designers called it quits with this original release, and subsequent updates eventually lead to a new version entirely – Flanker 2.5

The semi-dynamic single-player campaign is very well done and offers a nice storyline and a multitude of interesting missions. It is however, not quite the all-encompassing experience that Falcon 4.0 is. Set in Crimea, the solo campaign has many canned elements and puzzles that make it less interesting and varied than one might expect. There’s a scenario editor for good measure, but the inclusion of a more comprehensive mission generator for quick and easy combat would have been much nicer.

Still new players should be wary. If you’ve played the original SU-27, you’ll probably fit right in with Flanker 2.0, but if not, then be prepared to spend countless hours reading through the manual trying to decipher the Cyrillic script on your HUD. In all, Flanker 2.0 doesn’t offer a chauffeured ride. In fact, the precipitous learning curve, cumbersome menu interface, and positively funereal sound atmosphere all combine to create an isolated and austere combat environment. Documentation is good, but there are some noteworthy gaps (such as a lack of info on wingmen interaction).

The options that exist in Flanker 2.0 are more in-depth than those in Falcon 4.0, but there aren’t nearly as many. While in flight, you have a multitude of views to choose from, over 20 if you count the views and their modifiers. One of the newest additions is Natural Head Movement View, which causes your head to bob and move as the plane does. An interesting note is that the HUD can either show the Russian or English designations, which is another example of the realism factors available to you in this product.

13Combat within the game is all encompassing. You can either fly the SU-27 or the SU-33. Both planes carry out dual roles as fighter and bombers. The damage model is pretty accurate as planes like the B-52 can take quite a beating and continue evasive maneuvers. Other planes go down with the first missile hit. Overall a remarkable amount of detail has gone into rendering each of these planes (the SU-27 and SU-33) as authentically as possible, right down to using authentic analog gauges. Indeed, the flight models are so convincing, and the avionics so challenging, that you will either love or hate this sim.

With steep realism comes steep system requirements, and Flanker definitely suffers in this regard. To play them, you had to have the latest, fastest and usually most expensive computer. So while the original box claimed you can fire this up with only 32 MB RAM, the real number is probably around 128 MB, and with a fast 3D accelerator (32 MB preferably). Get through that hurdle and you’re in for a quality sim.

System Requirements: Pentium III 1 GHz, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB Video, Win98

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