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The Flare Path: Belt-Fed, Bipod-Mounted, Beer-Cooled

Simulation & wargame blather

For the last three years this column has used an ancient bolt-action Lee-Metford to dispense sim and wargame news. This week, as an experiment, we'll be trialling a far more modern fact flinger, the MG 42K. According to its manual, this Mauser-manufactured marvel can fire 20 separate story snippets in under a minute! Obviously, the high ROF comes at a price. Accuracy - “especially at the end of long bursts” - can be “slightly compromised” says the bumph. Give me a second to insert my ear plugs and press my cheek against the porcelain-cool steel stock, and we'll set about finding out what “slightly compromised” means.

DCS World's newest beta flyable is an aircraft that made the fighter designers of the late 1940s - particularly those in Britain - gasp and swoon. The swept-wing F-86 wasn't just outrageously fast it was aerobatically biddable - a near-perfect air warrior's steed. While Belsimtek's homage doesn't come with a Korean War map, campaign, or unit set, it looks to include everything else an eager Sabre wielder could possibly desire. Painstakingly researched flight and damage models? CHECK. Convincing clickable cockpit? CHECK. Staggeringly detailed fuelhydraulics, and air conditioning systems? CHECK. AI MiG 15s to mercilessly molest? CHECK.


Battleplan: American Civil War, the unusually clean-limbed/forward-looking ACW distillation FP poked and prodded at the start of the month, will be receiving a second patch sometime next week. Already substantially strengthened by the game speed slider added on the 17th, the title is in line for further bug fixes and GUI enhancements, but, sadly, won't be purged of its pontoon bridge proliferation issues quite yet. In my last exchange with The Mustard Corporation the devs confirmed that new eras were “definitely under consideration. The engine's been built with this in mind - we'll just have to see how much people want it.”


Wargame-whittlers Battlefront are scarily prescient when it comes to predicting contemporary flashpoints. CM: Shock Force might have got the combatants wrong, but its choice of battlefields (Syria) proved horribly accurate. Hopefully, their next contemporary title isn't another accidental prophesy in code form. Announced in 2009, Combat Mission: Black Sea will see near-future US, Russian, and Ukrainian forces coming to blows in the Ukraine. Originally scheduled for a late summer release, the ETA has now slipped to 'sometime this year'. Though the game is currently in beta and “completely functional” scenarios and art are unfinished, and a few modern warfare-related features remain uncoded. The latest vid from studio insider ChrisND suggests that new battlefield tools like UAVs and GPS-guided artillery shells are going to make bushwhacking well-equipped foes harder than ever.


If you fancy flying the great-grandmother of the Avro Lancaster, the great-great-grandmother of the B-52, or the great-great-great-grandmother of the B-2 Spirit, now's your chance. The early access version of ILYA Muromets was pushed from its cavernous hangar yesterday by 32 burly Russians. For the rather reasonable sum of $20 simmers keen to experience the air war over WWI's longer, less fashionable front will (eventually) get 22500 square kilometres of Ukrainian countryside, 8 finely crafted flyables, a 10 scenario SP campaign (with online requirement), multiplayer, quick missions and an engine that has served with distinction on the Western Front for many years.


Last week was turkey week over at www.thehunter.com. Ignoring Flare Path's unsolicited advice (we suggested to Expansive Worlds that they turn 50% of their players into plump weaponless game birds for seven days) the Swedes chose instead to overhaul turkey stalking by adding a new caller and decoys, and making large wattle wobblers more skittish. This week the turkey tweaks were followed up with a raft of well-received gunnery improvements. Now the velocity and penetrative power of all projectiles apart from arrows and a few shotgun shell types (updates for which are in the pipeline) is effected by air resistance, bullet shape and weight. Almost all traces of the simple linear ballistics model of old have been banished.


Suppliers of superlative race sims for almost ten years, Simbin Studios ceased to exist a few days ago. Happily for fans of the sleek, the swift, and the sonorous, the bankruptcy-prompted extinction isn't quite as serious as it first appears. Talking to VirtualR, company spokesman Jay Ekkel confirmed that development on RaceRoom Racing Experience will continue albeit from a new location and with a slightly trimmed staff.


Trainz: A New Era was released yesterday! In pre-beta form. Assuming you backed the project at the 'Engineer' ($55) level or above. Early accessers aren't permitted to post images or vids so it looks like it will be a while yet before the rest of us get our first glimpses of E2 engine party tricks like rocking rolling stock and smoke billowing from tunnels.


I wonder if Rolf-Dieter Klein & Martin Ulrich are aware of upcoming shipping magnate game TransOcean. Through Flare Path's 640x480 desk UZO, Deck 13's effort looks the splitting image of the pierless peerless Ports of Call. PoC's inspired mix of fleet management, job hunting, and top-down captaincy still feels fresh, so - assuming the Hamburgers have seajacked sagely - TransOcean, due to dock in September, could well turn out to be a cracking little game.


Promising Aerofly FS 2 facts and screenshots continue to trickle from the official forums and Ikarus' Facebook faucet. It's now clear the sequel to the uncommonly fluid/fetching Switzerland-set GA sim, will support seamless global aviation and feature a more diverse range of default aerodynes than its predecessor. Day-night transitions and improved cockpit functionality are also on the cards.


The first crop of Farming Simulator 15 pics has left Flare Path's chief forestry correspondent in a pinus nigra mood. As Roman and various other killjoys predicted, it looks like the resin-spattered E3 teaser was phonier than a Jasper Maskelyne M4. Fiddlesticks! Knot cool! Wood yew beleave it! etc.



The Flare Path Foxer

It took Vladimir Putin seven and a half hours to crack last week's Vladimir Putin foxer. With assistance from Matchstick, Stugle, SB and Mark Judd, the red-hot Scorchio sleuthed a solution in a little over six. Well done that Fast Show aficionado!

a. Dresden-class cruiser
b. St. Petersburg Metro token
c. Eurocopter Tiger
d. Lockheed 'Connie'
e. Sherman Crab
f. DR Class 130 'Ludmilla' loco
g. Lubyanka
h. Judo


The door of Roman's office is sporting a hastily scrawled 'GONE FISHI' sign at the moment. Flare Path's Chief Foxer Setter might be a wizard when it comes to devising devilishly difficult cryptic collages, but ask him to biro a sign on a sheet of A4 and he almost always misjudges his font size. Other messages I've seen pinned to that portal...


(All foxer guesses in one comment thread, please)

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