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The Flare Path: Routine Supply Drop

Simulation & wargame news

Though the port engine of the Flare Path C-47 is sheathed in flame, and most of the starboard aileron is shot away, I reckon I should be able to keep the old bird in the air long enough to reach the DZ and jettison this week's cannisters of simulation and wargame news. In the sim cannister you'll find some choice machinima, analysis of a beastly armour sim, and the frank confessions of a bruised speedwayist. In the wargame one there's three-dozen red berets, a... Hang on. That's not good. That's definitely not good. Mayday! Mayday! This is B for Beswick. We are going down. I repeat, we are going down!


No-one Died In This Attack

The sight of gamers queueing up to mock ITV earlier this week, left this sim enthusiast with a bad taste in his mouth. Rather than ridicule the plainly overworked staff of a company renowned for its investigative journalism and challenging programming. I've chosen to offer them my assistance. What follows is a selection of videos perfect for future documentaries. If any ITV researchers happen to stumble on this post, all of the following films are guaranteed 100% ArmA free. You can use them without any risk of ending up looking like a complete twat.

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Planning a mawkish, rating-chasing exposé of airshow safety? GloDark7's impressive recording of gallavanting Spitfires, Mustangs and P-47s doesn't include any actual prangs, but whack some doom-laden "On this occasion no-one was hurt." narration over it and viewers will hardly notice. Every 'Death From Above' and 'On a Wing and a Prayer' documentary needs footage of this calibre.

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You're putting the finishing touches to a Shoddy Bodies episode on the effect of alcohol on human physiology and realise that the section on degraded reflexes isn't exactly stimulating viewing. What do you do? Insert some gratuitous nipple and penis close-ups? No, you've used loads of those already. Far better to slot in one of stabiz's fabulous motorsport crash sequences. This incredibly talented filmmaker captures the thrills and spills of iRacing events, better than anyone I know. If I wasn't so impoverished and frightened of sentient competition, his creations would have nudged me into the arms of Kaemmer and co. long ago.

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Quite where Barfly got this remarkable Battle of Britain footage from, is a mystery. The Flare Path suspects some of the best shots came from the Luftwaffe's top-secret trained-seagull-utilizing  Aufklarungsgruppe units. Whatever the source, the film is guaranteed to add spice to any drab BoB documentary. Yes, you could do the respectful/responsible thing and present your interviews with veteran pilots in straight, music-free talking-head fashion, but time and time again viewer surveys reveal that most people would rather look at exploding Stukas and flame-trailing Messerschmitts than the crinkly visages of superannuated air aces.


Fowl Play: T-17 Tanky

When Goering's boffins conducted their seagull experiments in the early years of WW2, the avian aptitude for warfare was poorly understood. Back then the idea of an owl captaining a submarine, or a blue tit driving a tank, would have been regarded as absurd. Today, of course, we know better. The participation of fowls in modern conflict zones like Afgannetstan and Irauk is well documented. Odd then that there aren't more games like the utterly splendid T-17 Tanky.

Its battlefields might be garish and its warriors cute, but this 30Mb marvel passes the sim test with flying colours. Long distance shell duels? Check. Lasing of targets? Check. Damageable vehicle components like tracks, engines, and weapons? Check. Squad commands? Check. Ten minutes after firing up the free alpha for the first time, I found myself scouring terrain for hull-down positions and using shoot-and-scoot tactics. In many ways Tanky is more tanky than World of Tanks.

There's no campaign or MP as yet, but the skirmish generator with its trio of maps and powerful force customisation options means that's not a huge issue. Until you get comfortable with the controls, I recommend removing most of the vehicles from the default setup. Other tips? To have any chance of hitting faraway foes you'll need to 'lase' them first to range your gun. Unlike its super-realistic somewhat pricey stablemate Steel Beasts Pro PE (which, incidentally, is a little cheaper this month) ballistic computers don't appear to be simulated so lead must be manually added when aiming at moving targets.

Preen is already planning to add air and naval combat in a sequel - "Shark carrying capacity will be quite small, maybe one aerial torpedo. Bird, maybe a small bomb or rocket" - though you have to wonder whether that sequel will ever happen if the inexplicably low finance total at remains as it is.

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Shale Fail Tale

'Speedway' sounds like the sort of high-risk, jetpack-reliant futuresport I used to read about in the pages of 2000AD back in the Eighties. According to Techland, the Polish fabricators of a sim released in the UK this very morn, it's actually an activity that revolves around men falling off motorcycles a lot.

I say 'men' but I mean 'man'. In 98% of the FIM Speedway Grand Prix 4 races I've attempted thus far, I'm the only contestant that has ended up face-down on the gravel, or slumped Guy-like against the advertising hoardings. This is unquestionably the most difficult motorsport game I've played since my initially-frustrating-but-later-incredibly-rewarding brush with MX Simulator.

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FIM 4 doesn't have MX Sim's amazingly physical physics, but there's enough Newtonian sincerity there to keep me plugging away. I suspect my total inability to finish a race may have something to do with the fact that I Don't Have A Fecking Clue What I'm Doing. Four episodes into the series Techland obviously assumed that most punters would be old hands and wouldn't need tutorials or manual tips. They were wrong.

In every race sim (MX Simulator excepted) I've played up until now, getting round a corner involved juggling speed, braking and steering. FIM Speedway GP4 adds a fourth consideration in the form of a skid button. To conquer a bend, you must - and I'm surmising here - dab this at an appropriate time and speed. Misjudge and you wind up arcing outwards towards rag-dolled oblivion, or slicing inwards towards corner-cutting disqualification. Either I'm using this all-important button incorrectly or FIM Speedway GP4 requires rare finesse (something I value in a sim).
From the remarkable lack of in-game footage in the official trailer I'm guessing Techland's own marketing bods haven't mastered cornering either.

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