From the messy furball Dogfights of the Suez Crisis to the calculated Air Strikes in 82 - From the guns of the P-51 to the accurate F-16. Over the bloodied sands of the Middle East, the Israeli Air Force faces its adversaries of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
The Age of Strike Fighters has arrived in the Middle East.
As a Pirate, there is one company amongst few that I hold up as examples to the new Age. Companies that understand that this is a new age - and do their utmost to adopt to it. Blizzard is one of them (tought Activision may yet ruin that for them). Another one is Thirdwire (yes, click the link you naugthy little Simfans. You wont regret it).
So far, their release list consist of the Strike Fighers Series (Vanilla with a fictional conflict, Vietnam, Europe and Israel) that also now has been upgraded into the Strike Fighters 2 Formula with slight upgrades to each release, improved graphics and Windows Vista support.
And it seems we are to stay on this perfect platform for Air War for a while - especially now when the old titles has been redone. SF2: I has been released for some time now - but what makes this review is that I never actually considered it entirely complete without the Suez Crisis addon that was announced as far back as Wings over Israel (SF1 Engine version).
Granted, choosing Israel to begin with may seem like a controversial choice. However, I admire the way politics really dont have a part in this game - nor should it. Any sim fan, regardless of political stance in the issue at hand can pick this game up and enjoy it.
There are three basic campaigns - four if you bought the Suez Crisis Expansion Pack with a total of ten flyable Aircraft. Theese are Operation Kadesh of 56 (X-pack only), The Six-Day War of 67, The Yom Kippur War of 73 and Operation Peace in the Gallilei of 82.
While the Suez Crisis lacks Operation Musketeer (Brittish and French Naval Units), It is understandable considering the limited resources of Thirdwire - and the Expansion price of a meager 15 Dollars makes what you get pretty much worth it. As an added bonus, the Mystere is also added as a Flyable Aircraft in the Six Day War campaign.
So lets engage the dive bombing manouver. How well does the game do in terms of Gameplay?
To be fair, the Gameplay is what you make of it. The game can be played in an Arcade style Fashion (SimLight) or a very heavy and fairly accurate experiance on how it is to fly a plane. Granted, some things are very basic regardless of skill - but you never have to dig your nose into a manual before taking off.
Next thing you need to control is staying in the Air. This too can be a little tricky at Normal and Hard modes - especially depending on the Aircraft and what experience you have with simulators in general. And when that is done with - The enemy awaits.
Before I go futher. Never go into a Turn fight with a MiG.
If you are going to pick up this game, remember this.
So its West vs East, boys and girls. During 56, all you have is your guns - and with only guns at your disposal alongside Vintage WW2 Aircraft and the French Masterpiece known as Mystere IV. As the years go along, the Mirage and Nesher becomes avalible - and so does the A-4 Ahit and the F-4E Kurnass. During 82, you will pilot the finast Aircraft flown by the ISDF to date - the F-15A and the F-16A. Missiles are only reliable against smaller things then bombers in the last Campaign over Lebanon. Firing them against targets in earlier campaigns is a gamble.
But as you fly more advanced Aircraft, so will your foes adapt. At first, they fly Spitfires, Meteors, Vampires and MiG-15s. During the Six Day War, 17s, 19s and 21s join in the Fun - and so will Hawker Hunters. And at last, during 82 - you will face off against the MiG-23 that can give any but the most seasoned of pilots a run for his money - especially if you are foolish enought to face off against difficult opponents.
Once in the dogfight, its down to your guts and wits. Not that you will be able to use them at first, since you will be stunned on how gorgeous the sky at war looks - especially on high end machine. Granted, the SF2 Engine is a little old - but it gets the job done, and does not require a monster to run.
It flows on nicely - even on low end machines. I would expect any computer from the last five years will be able to run this game smoothly.
Before I sum it all up, I want to give a heads up to my fellas back at CombatAce. If you have not played this game, then you do not know them - yet. CombatAce is the biggest Mod community out there for the SF2 series. And the SF2 series does mods big time. It was designed with them in mind - and the community delivered. If it flies in real life, there is a big chance you can find it in the extensive modding section of CombatAce.
And if you ever decide to pick up SF2: Europe - Download the Nato Fighters 4+ Mod. You will not regret it.
So, what are you expecting to have to pay for this package? Well, if you only want SF2: I without the Suez Crisis addon (not that mandatory, but its great fun - abiet little buggy when I am writing this), then 20 dollars is what it will cost you. If you want some more stuff, including the first flyable Thirdwire Post-WW1 Props, then 15 dollars extra will get you a campaign, three flyables and a fight to the death against interesting opponents.
If you are a sim fan, then I wholeheartly recommend you pick up at least one of the SF2 titles. Israel and Europe are the best ones. Pro Tip ;-)
Creativity: 9/10. (There are not many sims showing the ISDF)
Graphics: 7/10. (Old, but they work. If Graphics are of no importance, put a 9 here)
Gameplay: 7/10. (Fun, challenging but can sometimes get a tad stale if you play it for long periods of time. Lacks Multiplayer.)
Price: 10/10 (Watch and learn, gaming companies...)
Screenshots courtesy of Thirdwire.