Installation is a breeze as long as you have the whopping 340 megs for a
partial install or 900 megs for a complete install. The cut scenes and
campaign graphics are all done "comic book" style and give CFS2 a
fresh look. This is the first game I can remember in a long time
that's worked "out of the box" for me with no tinkering or
Player Flyable Aircraft
Mitsubishi A6M2 (Model 21) Reisen "Zero"
Mitsubishi A6M2 (Model 52) Reisen "Zero"
Kawanishi N1K2 - J Shiden-kai
Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat (USN)
Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat
Lockheed P-38F Lighting
Vought F4U-1A Corsair
Other (Non-Player-Flyable) aircraft
Bell P-39D Airacobra
Nakajima Ki-43-1lb Hayabusa "Oscar"
Aichi D3A1 "Val" dive-bomber
Mitsubishi G4M2 "Betty" Medium Bomber
Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" torpedo Bomber
Douglas TBD-1 Devastator torpedo Bomber
North American B-25D/PBJ Mitchell medium bomber
Douglas C-47 Skytrain Transport
Consolidated PB4Y/B24-D Liberator Heavy Bomber
Plus assorted warships, tanks and trucks. In addition, you can import
all your planes from the original CFS
Eye candy galore !
The first thing that strikes you about CFS2 is how beautiful it
is. The terrain is breathtaking, the cockpits very detailed.
Everything ran very quickly and smoothly on my P3-700 / TNT2 Ultra
system. The ships actually travel and kick up spray although I
haven't noticed any heaving carrier decks (yet).
Fantastic looking carrier ops.
Terrain is wonderful.. very detail satellite maps covered in beautiful
texture maps provide terrain that's striking. You can also adjust how much
speed you want to trade off for terrain detail with a slider. If you
are lucky enough to have a next generation video card, there is built in
support for its Texel and Lighting features.
Ok, but how are the old wingbeciles?
One thing that made me cringe about the original CFS is how absolutely
terrible the computer players were. Not any more !
The few times I've seen the AI crash into the ground they were heavily
damaged. If they are in a fast slow turning plane it almost seems
like the enemy uses teamwork on you.. one dragging you away the others
lining up for a shot.
Unfortunately while the wingmen do a great job of taking off and
landing from a land base, they don't do carriers. When you start a
mission your wingmen are already airborne and they will stay airborne when
you return to land.
Carrier landings.. catch the wire !
One thing I noticed immediately is how much easier carrier landings are
in CFS2 than "old school" sims. The ships actually
sail into the wind giving you that much more time to line up your approach
and stop. A window with the signalling officer will pop up when you
begin your approach. You will be directed in for your landing by his
paddles (complete with subtitles for us who don't have the signals
Safe on deck
Cockpits.. brush up on your Japaneese
CFS 2 has both 2d and 3d cockpits. The 2d cockpits are fully
clickable with cool popup tool tips that describe each instrument and
display it's current value. There is a warning in the readme that
Voodoo 5000 cards have a big slowdown when the tool tips are displayed,
2d cockpit on the left, 3d on the right
All sorts of view modes are available, from panning with the hat to
snap views. Padlock works well, but has a strange glitch where the
view system gets a little messed up if you use the hat while padlocked.
Pressing the "5" key on your number pad will fix things up. The
propeller blur in 3d mode is particularly annoying.. it's made up of huge
pixels and looks very strange. I can't find any way to disable it.
Padlock in Action
Being a bit picky about flight models I was pleasantly surprised.
On full realism the planes will drop a wing if you haul back on the stick
hard, compressibility will freeze up the controls if you are dumb
enough to loop under with a p-38 at high speed, and the ground
handling is very good. I notice in the manual they must have had the
same experience with users that I had tweaking the SDOE flight models..
there are a lot of explanations about lift, angle of attack and why planes
are not impervious to dropping a wing just because you are in a
dive. About the only nit I can find to pick is that the p38 in CFS2
is tippier than I have read, easily drops a a wing and can enter a stable
spin. Really a minor point though, the flight models are excellent.
Engine management including fuel mixture, magnetos, etc is available if
you want to enable it. War Emergency Power and Water/Methanol
Injection are present.
Bullet holes, fires that spread, wings that come off.. all the good
stuff is here. I was never able to overheat my engine no
matter how hard I pushed it or how much damaged I suffered however.
When your plane hits the ground there is no sound for the explosion but as
you can tell I'm looking hard for things to complain about. The way
small fires either go out or spread to other parts of the plane is really
a nice touch. As parts of your plane take damage they function
worse.. bullet holes in your aileron will mean your plane will roll
Did you need that Tail?
This has to be the best mission editor I've seen since WW2 fighters..
it's all there.. you can set ground vehicles, give them waypoints, speeds,
set triggers on almost anything that can possibly happen in the
game. I've only started to scratch the surface here I can't
wait to see what some of the mission building wizards in the sim community
are able to build using all these features!
Triggers let you make complex missions
Online play is very good, stable and reasonably lag free
as long as your opponents have decent internet connections.
Microsoft has added a special gaming zone lobby for high speed internet
users which is great news for those lucky enough to be able to dump our
modem connections !
Unfortunately, online play is limited to basic dogfights.
The host can specify teams, gun lethality, starting altitude, and
terrain. Additional players can not enter while the game is in
progress, they have to wait for the next game to start. There
doesn't seem to be any way to set-up online campaigns, bombing or strike
missions. All the online cheats from CFS1 are supposed to be
patched in CFS2.
There is a strange quirk since each user can have different
terrain detail settings. Since not everyone is seeing exactly the
same terrain you can sometimes see strange things happen online like plane
apparently flying through the ground or buildings.
I'm partway through campaigns for both the American and
Japanese sides. The missions are interspersed with comic book style
animations and voiceovers that make for a great story line. The recon
photos and medals, mission summary make for even more immersion. The
campaign is not dynamic, your performance in one mission doesn't seem to
affect the next one.
Microsoft - the New Disneyland?
In the interest of "Political Correctness" some rather novel
decisions were made in the design of this game. The attack on Pearl
Harbour is not included in the Japanese campaign. Kamikaze attacks are not
simulated. Pilot wounds do not appear to be simulated and when
your pilot bails and is hit by the aircraft the game immediately ends and
goes back to the mission summary.
Being an "online junkie" I was disappointed there
wasn't more support for online campaigns or creating and using missions
online (this feature still keeps me coming back to Fighter Squadron:
Screaming Demons Over Europe). For most people I'm sure the team
dogfight mode present is adequate if a little boring after repeated play.
While the inclusion of only 7 user flyable planes is
disappointing (I would really have loved to fly a torpedo run against a ship
or a bombing mission), the planes that are present are simulated very
well. Considering most jet simulations only attempt to model one user
flyable plane I think this many well done planes is quite acceptable.
I hope we'll be seeing some high quality add-on planes in the future.
Graphics are stunning, they set a new standard far exceeding
anything we've seen so far. The mission editor, flight, and damage
models are all excellent. Fires, bullet holes, compressibility, WEP, and all
the good stuff is present and accounted for.
I had to hold my nose buying this sim after the fiasco that
was the original CFS but after having a chance to play with it I can gladly
say CFS 2 is a keeper. The most complete and polished sim I've seen
since European Air War, bravo Microsoft!
Update: there are already some patches out to fly
the non-flyable planes in CFS 2, check out the links below. Here are some
pics from Crankshaft to whet your appetite.