As some of you may know, I'm a big war gaming fan. I like to play on all levels from grand strategy / operational stuff, down to soldier combat. But with the recent release of DCS: A-10C (and the recent upgrade of my computer!) I've turned my PC gaming attention back to the greatness that is combat flight sims!
In this thread I'd like to discuss flight sims that are truly simulations, or pretty damn close. No arcade stuff. I love those games too, but we're talking a little more heavy duty in here. So the games I'm currently playing:
DCS: A-10C Warthog
From the site:
"DCS: A-10C Warthog" is a PC simulation of the U.S. premier Close Air Support attack aircraft. This is the second aircraft in the DCS series, following DCS: Black Shark, and raises the bar even higher in the DCS series. Warthog brings the most realistic PC simulation of a modern fixed wing combat aircraft in regards to flight dynamics, avionics, sensors, and weapon systems. You also have the option to play Warthog in "Game" mode for a casual game experience. Fly missions in the Caucasus region of the Black Sea against and with a wide array of air, land and sea forces with new and improved intelligence. Create your own missions and campaigns with the included Mission and Campaign Editors, and fly with and against friends online using the included online game browser.
Fly one of the coolest aircraft that the US military ever made! It's a little slow, but it's very agile and extremely tough. It can carry a devastating armament, capable of taking out many kinds of ground targets. The "C" variant has seen a vast upgrade from its earlier counterpart. The cockpit has been upgraded with much better computers, sensors, and flight systems. It's a lot of fun to fly, and not overly complicated. The training missions in this game are amazing. Fully voiced and very helpful at getting you familiar with all the systems on the aircraft.
You can play with/against other people who own A-10C and eventually you can fly in missions with people who own DCS: Black Shark.
DCS: Black Shark
From the site:
DCS: Ka-50 Black Shark is a PC game of the Russian Ka-50 attack helicopter and is the first title in a new Eagle Dynamics and The Fighter Collection simulation series: Digital Combat Simulator (DCS). Following Eagle Dynamics tradition of excellence, DCS: Ka-50 Black Shark will bring an even more realistic simulation experience than its predecessor LockOn: Flaming Cliffs.
DCS: Ka-50 Black Shark will offer an unprecedented level of realism in regards to flight dynamics, instruments modeling, avionics systems, and weapon systems. The artificial Intelligence of ground vehicles and helicopters has been improved dramatically as well as weapon modeling. A new Mission Editor includes a powerful electronic mapping system that allows user to easily create missions and campaigns. A new campaign system allows the front line of the battlefield to move back and fourth according to your mission success or failure. Due to the increased flexibility of the DCS system, additional fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter add-ons will follow shortly.
This was the first of the DCS games. I picked it up mostly because I love sims and I didn't have a lot of helicopter experience prior. This guy is a bit daunting at first. Flying a helicopter, especially a one-man attack helicopter, is serious business. It can be tough to get into a stable or safe run and fire off your weapons, but when you finally get in the groove its very fulfilling! I haven't spent enough time in the Ka-50 to be very proficient, but the level of detail is amazing and well worth giving it a try.
You can play with over Black Shark people and some servers running Lock On Modern Air Combat (LOMAC): Flaming Cliffs 2 maps. This is very cool as the mix of people playing on a particular server can cover almost all air combat roles. Eventually DCS: BS will mix with A-10C.
Lock On: Flaming Cliffs 2
From the site:
LockOn: Flaming Cliffs 2 is a further evolution of LockOn: Flaming Cliffs. In Flaming Cliffs 2, all of the player-controlled aircraft available in Flaming Cliffs have been transferred to the virtual environment created for the Digital Combat Simulator series, started with DCS: Black Shark. Flaming Cliffs 2 is a PC-based combat flight simulation of the following modern combat aircraft: Su-27, Su-33, Su-25, Su-25T, MiG-29, MiG-29S, F-15C, A-10A. The geographical territory modeled encompasses the region of the western Caucasus mountains from Kuban to Georgia.
So while the other two games only give you a single (and painstakingly accurate) aircraft to fly, LOMAC FC2 gives you 8 to choose from. They cover the roles from CAS to Air Superiority, with very nice representations of the systems involved in all the aircraft. You won't find the same level of detail as the DCS games - that is, not every switch in the cockpit is functional. But it's a great entry point into the series of games. The flight model is a bit more forgiving and the documentation is great to get you up to speed on the weapon systems.
I'm going to guess that of the three games this one still has the biggest online population. The variety plus all the custom mission / map servers people running is great. That and the fact that it supports DCS:BS just gave it even more life.
Where can I buy these awesome games?
You can get both of the DCS games from Steam or directly here
. I own the steam versions and never had any issues with mods or anything.
FC2 requires that you have Lock On installed already, but they released a Platinum Edition which has everything you need. http://www.amazon.com/Lock-Platinum-Pc/dp/B003UEREBQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=software&qid=1306192269&sr=8-1
It should also be available in retail form at Best Buy etc.
What are some good peripherals?
I'm gonna say that a nice HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick) setup is essential for really getting into these games. I personally use the Saitek X52 hotas
+ rudder kit and have no complaints. CH Products is also a very popular brand as well. If you really want to drop some dough and get the full experience buy this (then buy me one!):
But in the end, a decent stick + throttle control will go a long way. Having a shitload of buttons is good too.
TrackIR / Head tracking
The next thing isn't really essential, but its damn helpful: TrackIR
. Head tracking to look around the cockpit and for situational awareness is soooo nice. You could map one of your joystick hat switches to look around, but having nice 6 degrees of freedom is great. There is a FreeTrack program as well that you can use, but you have to make some of the hardware.
Some videos of it in action:
- main DCS site
- official forums, surprisingly good crowd in there!
- good reviews and lots of info on the forums
Other noteworthy games
So, what are we gonna do now?
- The Enemy Engaged series is another excellent helicopter sim. The modding community has kept it very fresh and the vehicle models looks great. Sadly the terrain is very bland. The gameplay is excellent however. You can buy it from GOG now very cheap. You only need to buy Commanche vs Hokum to use the big mods, and everything is included from the other game.
- Thirdwire makes the Strike Fighters series of games. Until somewhat recently they only ran on windows XP, but I think all the "2" versions of their games are Vista+ compatible. I've never played them, but I am going to pick up SF2: Vietnam at the very least. I've read that they're "sim-light" but everything I've seen about them looks like a lot of fun. Sadly, I don't think any of them have multiplayer support.
- Falcon 4 - from what I can tell there are a few versions of this game available right now. It's something I definitely want to get into, but I have to figure out which version I need to own (if any). I know there's a huge free mod for it, but I'm not sure if it requires a previous game. Maybe you guys can tell me more!
- There's the IL-2 series, which is definitely one of the best WW2 games. I haven't played it much recently, but the new one is coming out soon. It looks beautiful, hopefully it holds up.
- Wings of Prey - another WW2 flight game. I only played my copy a little bit. The flight model wasn't clicking for me, but I didn't give it enough time.
Let's talk about these games, and better yet, lets start getting some multiplayer going! I've been playing DCS: A-10C a lot lately. And when I play LOMAC I usually fly the A-10 or the Su-25t - I guess I like flying CAS
I'd definitely like to start learning the F-15 or the Mig for some air to air combat.