Strike Fighters 2 Israel Suez Crisis Expansion Pack Page 2

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I’m a Pony…I’m a Pony…

If memory serves, and it usually doesn’t, all three of the aircraft in this pack are (or were) available for free download, and I had a lot of them laying around in storage on an external hard drive from my review of Johan217’s mod. So, I thought to myself, why not take the free versions and compare them to the ones being offered by Third Wire? I don’t recall much about the Mystere IVA and even less about the Meteor, but I do remember playing through Johan217’s Suez campaign in an F-51D, so I figured I’d start there. There’s another reason.

This aircraft marks the first time that a refined flight model has been made by Third Wire for a piston-engined aircraft meant and intended to be flown by the player. Up until now, it’s been flight models for AI aircraft when it comes to prop jobs in the Third Wire world. We now have a Third Wire-engineered flight model to test and play with.

The F-51D Mustang was illegally sold to the Hey’l Ha’Avir by the Swedish and Nicaraguan governments for its use in the 1948 War of Independence. It quickly became the best fighter in their inventory. By 1959, the IAF had replaced the Mustang with jet aircraft, but not before it racked up an impressive record in combat service during the Suez Crisis. There is even a story floating around about an especially ballsy Mustang driver who effectively ended communications between Suez and units in the Egyptian front lines by cutting down telephone wires with his spinning propeller blades. There’s one for Mythbusters.

Now, I also had to dig out and blow the dust off my old Strike Fighters: Project 1 CD because the only way to be fair is to test them both in their respective native game environments since a number of mods for the first-generation games start out of the gate with compatibility problems when placed in the second-generation games.

External Model

Right off the bat, I noticed an issue. Along the tail of the third-party aircraft, there is a problem with the shadow, a dark gray mesh along the vertical axis of the rudder. It doesn’t go away until you shut the shadows off in the Graphics options.

Mustang P-51D - Third-Party Add-on for the SF1 Series
Mustang P-51D – Third-Party Add-on for the SF1 Series
Mustang P-51D - Suez Expansion for the SF2 Series
Mustang P-51D – Suez Expansion for the SF2 Series

The body panels look… dated… in the third-party model, there are also some discrepancies that I can’t tell who’s being more accurate. There appears to be what looks like an exhaust port on the ventral side of the Third Wire aircraft (the oil cooler, possibly? I’m not up to speed on prop-jobs…) that’s not there on the third-party aircraft. It appears that the third-party model follows the P-51D lines to the letter, whereas the Third Wire model clearly shows the Israelis must’ve modified them in some way if this is accurate.

The weapons of the expansion pack are wonderful, but there’s not a lot to see. It’s not like the F-51D could carry a wide array of munitions. I used Bunyap’s Weapons Pack for comparison (what I still consider to be the gold standard in third-party instruments of destruction) and again, it’s not like the Mustang carried much more than drop tanks, a pair of bombs, and some unguided rockets. The big difference is going to come in the availability of DX10 shaders in the new expansion pack.

Mustang P-51D - Third-Party Add-on for the SF1 Series
Mustang P-51D – Third-Party Add-on for SF1 Series
Mustang P-51D - Suez Expansion for the SF2 Series
Mustang P-51D – Suez Expansion for the SF2 Series

The exterior model of the Third Wire Mustang looks more polished than the third-party model, but let’s take a look at the cockpit for minute.

The Front Office

The cockpits are similar, and the third-party effort is competent, but you can’t help but think you’re inside one of those folded-up cardboard boxes we used to turn into airplane cockpits in kindergarten. The Third Wire version is softer, rounder, and the gunsight is much more prominent an edifice in your frame of view. The benefit of the newer DirectX engine used in SF2 comes into play. For example, the difference of the zinc chromate coloring in the side panels and how the light affects the two planes surfaces is dramatic.

Mustang P-51D - Third-Party Add-on for the SF1 Series
Mustang P-51D – Third-Party Add-on for the SF1 Series
Mustang P-51D - Suez Expansion for the SF2 Series
Mustang P-51D – Suez Expansion for the SF2 Series

The dials, panels, and other accoutrements are functional in both cockpits and both do their jobs well. There seems to be some (for lack of a better term) “seaming” in the third-party cockpit where some of the exterior world peeks in between some panels, but it’s one of those things that in the heat of battle you’re not going to notice much.

The Flight Model

I tested both aircraft in the Normal flight model. Both flight models let you know really fast that you’re far more nimble than anything else on the block. You can handily out-turn the stock MiG-15bis the Egyptians are equipped with, however the Egyptian Spitfires will eat your lunch. Just understand that while you out-turn just about anything on the battlefield, EVERYTHING can outrun you in the air battle. You are the slowest thing out there and the only way you’ll be able to leave the heat of an engagement is if you manage to lure your opponents into a furball. If they can get a running start at you, you’re toast.

Mustang P-51D - Third-Party Add-on for the SF1 Series
Mustang P-51D – Third-Party Add-on for the SF1 Series
Mustang P-51D - Suez Expansion for the SF2 Series
Mustang P-51D – Suez Expansion for the SF2 Series

That said, the stock Mustang flight model is a little less nimble than the third-party flight model. The third-party model feels like you’re on the end of a rubber band, an almost point-and-shoot affair, whereas the Third Wire model feels a little heavier, like there’s some inertia working on you as you crank it into a turn. They both illustrate the fact the Mustang could turn inside a quail in terms of maneuverability, but you’ll feel like you’re doing a little more work in the Third Wire model.

Conclusion

Is it worth $15 USD? That’s the bottom line. Considering it means three new flyable aircraft and a new campaign (add the fact that you can use these aircraft for almost any purpose), then yeah, I’d have no trouble recommending it. The period weapons are done well, each aircraft feel markedly different than anything you’ve flown in Third Wire before (the Meteor may pitch well, but it has the roll rate of a beached whale with giant, wide wings and jets mounted on them), and it includes some interesting AI aircraft that you can have a little fun with. It’s affordably priced and when you compare it to expansion packs for FSX, you’re getting a bargain.

However, the purist in me knows it’s not really the entire Suez campaign with no British or French aircraft involved. However it won’t be long before some enterprising modder zips it all up for you in one nice, neat, package. Bear in mind they’re going to have to work harder to match TK’s quality, but surely someone will be including British carrier ops fairly quickly. One thing about the Third Wire community, they’re quick to correct any perceived deficiencies in TK’s work. Now, to the Third Wire community, I want you to go back and read this article again. You did? Okay, now do it one more time and when you find where I said “All third-party mods are crap”, please post it in the Article Feedback forum. I look forward to hearing from you.

Reviewer’s System Specs

  • Gateway DX4710-05
  • Intel Q6600 Kentsfield quad-core processor
  • 6GB DDR2 PC6400 RAM
  • 640GB SATAII HDD
  • NVIDIA 1GB GeForce GTS 250
  • Onboard Realtek sound
  • Microsoft Windows Vista 64-bit
  • Samsung 22″ widescreen monitor

 


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