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The Flare Path: Pier Review Proponent

Simulation & wargame news

Ever heard of Charles Ezra Coopin, the last man executed for treason in the UK? Thought not. The wartime exploits of this Sussex schemer are little known outside of Brighton. Nazi-sympathising Coopin attempted to build an invasion bridge between Britain and France by stealthily extending the Palace Pier. His hamfistedness with a hammer and weakness for What the Butler Saw machines meant progress was slow, but by the time the plot was uncovered in May 1941, the retired music teacher had successfully lengthened the structure by over three yards. Churchill is said to have been deeply shaken by the affair.

Coopin's handiwork hasn't made it into the Battle of Britain Development Group's latest free update for Battle of Britain 2 but a plethora of other scenic subtleties have.

Utilizing a Beachy Head of period maps and photos, BDG members PV, Stickman and Ben have spent the last two and a half years crimping coastlines, doctoring docks, and placing/emplacing AAA batteries. As a result, Luftwaffe bomb-aimers can now squint through their Lotfe 7s at the most authentic set of targets ever to grace a Finest Hour diversion.

In most other sims embellishments like these would be of minor tactical significance. In BoB2, a game in which out-of-commission ports can lead to an early bath for an RAF commander, and hits on aircraft and aircraft component factories directly effect the rate at which replacement machines reach Fighter Command, improved industrial representation should have a noticeable impact on the way campaigns play out.

Changes wrought by BDG's latest recruit, Two27, will certainly be felt by BoB2 campaigners. The industrious newcomer has bravely delved into corners of the labyrinthine campaign code undisturbed since Rowan days. His achievements include the purging of numerous historical inconsistencies from the Axis OOB, the reworking of bomber-escort rendezvous logic to ensure Bf-109s and Bf-110s do their duty more often, the adding of a plausible pinch of fuzz to German intel gathering, and an overhaul of the way aircraft repair is simulated. With new layers of debrief information available too, it looks like there's never been a better time to go a-Goering.

Naturally, the BDG's resident flight model and AI experts (blue six and Buddye) have also had a hand in 2.12. Zerstörers should be a tad more nimble now, damaged bombers more likely to straggle, RAF fighters less inclined to pursue bogeys all the way to France... For a full rundown of the contents of what is certain to be one of the most important sim mods of 2013 gawp like a UXB-discovering Forties schoolboy at the change log pinned-up here.


Air Freight Frights

Watch the following two videos and then tell me you don't have an uncontrollable urge to purchase the just-released Accu-Feel v2 'Air, Land & Sea' and start a new Columbia-based game of Air Hauler, the cargo company add-on for FSX.

Cover image for YouTube video

Cover image for YouTube video

A2A Simulations' Cessna 172, PA-128 Cherokee, F-4 Phantom, F-104 Starfighter, and P-51H MSFS add-ons might be taking longer than anticipated, but a beefed-up version of Accu-Feel, their essential Flight Simulator physics and sound poultice, should make the waiting far more bearable.

In addition to more troublesome turbulence, and some tantalising new sliders on the control panel, upgraders (if you own v1 the new incarnation is available for $5 rather than $20) get some rather persuasive weather-related seaplane effects. It looks like Accu-Feel v2 will be the perfect partner to The Drowned World, a WIP post-apocalyptic FSX adventure pack from The Water Shed featuring new sodden scenery, dynamically generated missions, and giant irradiated crayfish.


Westphalia Urchin Failure

While Sherlock Holmes relied on a gang of snotty-sleeved street urchins for intel gathering, FP, for reasons of economy, relies on a gang of snotty-sleeved sea urchins. Echinoderms are remarkably proficient at collecting news of upcoming sub sims and naval wargames, but truth be told they're pretty hopeless when it comes to monitoring other genres. Yesterday, for instance, I realised they'd completely missed the announcement of the Zusi 3 demo back in October.

A Deutsche Bahn-centred rail sim with dated visuals, and no cab motion or track noise, at first glance Zusi 3 doesn't look to have a lot to offer the seasoned Train Simulator, BVE or Open Rails user. Investigate the 62MB trial however - complete its Driving School journey from Bad Driburg to Altenbeken - and you should glimpse some rather unusual and appealing qualities.

Unlike The Market Leading Brand, Zusi isn't built around discrete activities or missions. The sim attempts to model complete timetables. As in OMSI you're free to cab-hop, taking the forwarder of whichever freight or passenger service takes your fancy.

The demo features a very small chunk of North Rhine-Westphalia and only one cab interior - that of the Class 216 diesel (other locos including electrics can be driven with a generic GUI). The short stretch of permanent way that's provided makes up for its lack of shadows and grass fronds with some finely modelled signals (fully explained in Driving School mode) catenary, and trackwork. If the audio was substantially stronger, the physics less reserved, Zusi 3 might almost be the railway OMSI all transport simmers of taste secretly crave.


The Flare Path Foxer

Oi! You with the big hat and the encyclopaedic knowledge of war & transport - what are you doing for the next hour? Endeavouring to fill in the lossword blanks below by working out the theme and word pattern shared by the five component puzzles? Splendid!

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About the Author

Tim Stone