The Let's Play Archive

Strike Fighters 2

by SelenicMartian

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Original Thread: Bandits, 6 o'clock, one mile. Strike Fighters 2 LP



+some DLC

What's this?
Strike Fighters 2 by Third Wire Productions is an aging modular series of indie combat flight sims covering a sizeable chunk of Western (mostly American) aircraft between 1950s and 1970s. It's an upgrade over an earlier series of games: Strike Fighters - Project 1, Wings over Vietnam, Wings over Europe and Wings over Israel. Those in turn seem to inherit quite a lot from European Air War. The designer/coder of SF was involved in finishing that one, and he also did some coding for Jane's Longbow 2. He also, apparently, did some acting for X-Com: Interceptor

Yuck! Is it a "hardcore" sim?
No, it's a simpler game you can play with a basic joystick (provided it's not a gamepad) keeping only a few keyboard commands in mind. The main thrills come from combat - not from starting your engines.
However SF2 doesn't have any tutorials worth mentioning, and the manual is only somewhat helpful. A book or videos on air combat maneuvering is of more use to the player in the end. That, and a printed list of AI quirks, interface oddities, and strange design decisions.

Simpler... like Ace combat/HAWX?
No. No dozens of missiles per plane. No superweapons. No fancy scripted scenarios. No experimental aircraft. No unlockables. SF2 dumps you into a war, generates missions in a semi turn-based fashion and offers you chances to survive or die on a daily basis. The flight model stays reasonably realistic, the weapon reliability never ceases to disappoint, and under the hood the game models quite a few little details that are overlooked by arcade titles with planes.

So, is there a plan for the LP?
This is a quick trip through four decades of combat aircraft evolution, warts and all: underpowered, inadequately armed, and painful to handle.
There's an approximate map for this trip: some stops will be longer, some shorter.

lick here for the full 2000x4300 image
But first check out some extra info to make the map more clear.
Fighter generations (sometimes applied to attack planes as well) are just marketing bullshit, like game scores in the press. The generation boundaries are not clearly defined, but the general idea is something like this:
I. Take a very surprised WW2 airframe and shove a barely functional jet engine into it. Give it enough fuel to stay in the air for an hour, tops. You might want to give the pilot an ejection seat, but safety is optional. If you think you're badass, sweep the wing backwards.
II. Add an afterburner to burn the fuel quicker, and give the plane enough power to go faster than the speed of rock 'n' roll. Provide hydraulic boost to the controls, so that a human pilot actually has a chance of pulling out of a supersonic dive. Install a radar, which gets startled by seeing the Earth. The guided air-to-air missile is king, we shall never need the guns again.
III. Holy crap, put at least one gun back in! The missiles can't hit shit! But good news - ground targets can't dodge, so our TV repairman made these guided bombs and missiles to use against them. Now we can finally wreck the goddamn evil comm building with one hit, as opposed to carpet bombing the fuck out of the next door chicken house. Ah, and we've also figured out how to calculate the impact point for unguided bombs, so the pilots no longer need to bomb tents going by their gut feeling while dodging intense ground fire.
IV. Machines don't make mistakes, right? Let's put a computer between the pilot and the control surfaces to filter stupidity. Let's also design airplanes in such a manner, that no human can actually fly them without computer aid. If only there were a way to get rid of humans...
A half-arsed estimate of what missions I'll be getting in this campaign. CAS means bombing the enemy tanks, before they destroy ours. A2G stands for bombing buildings, air defences and convoys. A2A is anything that involves ruining the day of enemy pilots.
It's not the estimated difficulty of the missions - you can fail many of them without immediate "game over"-ish consequences. It's the difficulty of basic survival. You're one lucky bastard, if you get two missions into any campaign I've rated Insane.

What's left out?
A ton of F-4, A-4 and A-7 variants, mostly. I'm also not touching the hundreds of mods for the series. Nor am I going to give much attention to the Mercenary campaigns, that take place over the Desert map, because the mercenary system of renting bombs and buying planes is really inconvenient.

Audience Participation
The plane voting points are marked on the map. I'll provide more detailed description of the options, when we arrive at them. Note, that the losing aircraft will still be shown off briefly in their own episodes.
Also, suggestions for non-offensive names for pilots are welcome. First Name/Last Name/Callsign. We'll need quite a lot of them in the long run, mostly for the graveyard.
Before you ask, there is no multiplayer mode. Just very unpredictable AI.

Table of Contents

Video 0: Test recording with poor sound, in which a P-51D amuses a Soviet aircraft carrier in Iceland. DO NOT WATCH!

Subtitles FAQ: red - player related, yellow - player squadron related, blue - friendly squadron related.

Season 1. Operation Kadesh - A Lovely Hebrew Mass (P-51D Mustang)
S01E01: 1956.10.29

S01E02: 1956.10.29 (Still)
S01E03: 1956.10.29 (Yet again)
S01E04: 1956.10.30
S01E05: 1956.10.30 (But a bit later)
S01E06: 1956.10.31
S01E07: 1956.10.31 (We do advance about 2 hrs per mission now)
S01E08: 1956.10.31
S01E09: 1956.11.01 (A six-pack)
S01E10: 1956.11.02 (The End)

Season 2. Operation Kadesh - Go down, Moses (Meteor F.8)
S02E01: 1956.10.29 (It's THAT day again)

S02E02: 1956.10.29 (Twists of F8)
S02E03: 1956.10.29 (Alarm!)
S02E04: 1956.10.31 (Falling Stars)
S02E05: 1956.11.02 (The Other End)

Vote #1

Sub-Season 3A. Red Tide - Fetchez la Vache! (Mystère IV A)
Sub-Season 3B. Red Tide - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (F-100A Super Sabre)
Season 3. Red Tide - I Never Met a Man I Didn't Mutilate (Hunter F.4)
S03E01: 1956.11.17-18 (Assault & Battery)

S03E02: 1956.11.19-20 (Leaking & Vertigo)
S03E03: 1956.11.21-22 (Cross & Distinguished)
S03E04: 1956.11.23-30 (69 & DP)
S03E05: 1956.12.01-07 (Fire & Drizzle)
S03E06: 1956.12.08-24 (Hunters & Hunters)

Vote #2

Sub-Season 4A. Red Thunder - 5 O'Clock Charlie (Hunter FGA.9)
Sub-Season 4B. Red Thunder - Cooking With Gas (F-100D Super Sabre)
Sub-Season 4C. Red Thunder - Thorsday (Lightning F.1)
Season 4. Red Thunder - Rain-in-the-Face (F-105D Thunderchief)
S04E01: 1962.10.26 (Live Long and Prosper)

S04E02: 1962.10.27-28 (Fiery Rain)
S04E03: 1962.10.29-30 (Speedy Delivery to Your Doorstep)
S04E04: 1962.10.31-1962.11.07 (Tape Measurement Medallist)
S04E05: 1962.11.08-14 (Will Somebody Shoot Me Down, Please)
S04E06: 1962.11.15-21 (It's a Fighter, Jim, Not a Bomber)

Vote #3

Season 5. Rolling Thunder - Weapons of the Future (F-4B & F-8C)
S05E01: 1965 (Write "Fuck" on their planes)

S05E02: 1966 (SHOEHORN'd)
S05E03: 1967 (Minor Inconveniences)
S05E04: 1968 (Weird Shit)
S05E05: 1968 (A Realistic Outcome)

Sub-Season 6A. Rolling Thunder - Bait and Switch (F-105D Thunderchief (66))
Sub-Season 6B. Rolling Thunder - The Lord Baldrick (A-7A Corsair II, also featuring A-7C Corsair II)
Season 6. Rolling Thunder - A Classic Vespa (A-4B)
S06E01: 1966 (Turning With the Best)

S06E02: 1967 (An Even Wilder Weasel)
S06E03: 1968 (Wind Up)
S06E04: 1968 (Plague of Locusts)
S06E05: 1967 (Pinpoint Accuracy)

Season 7. Six-Day War - A Jew? Here? (Mirage IIICJ Shahak)
S07E01: 1967.06.05 (Day One - Introduction To Mayhem)

S07E02: 1967.06.06 (Day Two - Battle of Jericho)
S07E03: 1967.06.07-08 (Day Three & Four - Slow Days Are Here Again)
S07E04: 1967.06.09 (Day Five - Counting Marks)
S07E05: 1967.06.10 (Day Six - Everyone Strikes Back)

Season 8. Red Hammer - Supercruising For a Bruising (Lightning F.3)
S08E01: 1968.08.23 (Getting Nowhere Fast)

S08E02: 1968.08.24-25 (He's Firing His Guns... Eventually)
S08E03: 1968.08.26-27 (Velites)
S08E04: 1968.08.28-29 (Can't They Just Send the Phantoms?)
S08E05: 1968.08.31 - 1968.09.16 (The Mad, the Lazy, and the Stupid)

Season 9. Red Hammer - Join the Navy (F-4D Phantom II)
S09E01: 1968.08.21-22 (Fantastically Failing at Falconry)

S09E02: 1968.08.23-24 (Laser Pointer of Doom)

Bonus 1: A Floral Arrangement

Season 10. Linebacker I - Across Her Nose, Not Up It! (F-4J Phantom II)
S10E01: 1972.05.08-10 (Jesus AIM-9H Christ)

S10E02: 1972.05.12-14 (Hungry For Jam)

Season 11. Linebacker II - Goons For Hire, Thugs For Rent (F-8J Crusader et al.)
S11E01: 1972.12.18 (The Other Side)

S11E02: 1972.12.19-20 (Contrast Shower)
S11E03: 1972.12.20-21 (Money, And How Not To Do It)
S11E04: 1972.12.21-22 (Flight of the Kiwis)
S11E05: 1972.12.23 (Nevermore)

Vote #4

Sub-Season 12A. Yom Kippur War - A Manly Chin (F-4E Kurnass)
Sub-Season 12B. Yom Kippur War - A Red-Hot Poker Up My Ass (Nesher)
Season 12. Yom Kippur War - Hump or Death (A-4H Ahit)
S11E01: 1973.10.06-07 (I Hate Sand)

S11E02: 1973.10.08-12 (Miscellaneous)
S11E03: 1973.10.13-16 (The Many Ways To Fail) or (The Ace Summoner)
S11E04: 1973.10.17-20 (Testing the Ejection Seat)
S11E05: 1973.10.21 (The Hunchback of Negev)

Bonus 2: Balloons, Biplanes, Bridges

Vote #5

Season 13. Red Lightning - An Office On the Top Floor (F-15A Eagle)
S13E01: 1979.09.26-27 (Flyswatter)

S13E02: 1979.09.28-10.02 (The Fastest Bar)
S13E03: 1979.10.03-06 (Slow and Steady)
S13E04: 1979.10.07-10 (Eagle-coloured Skies)
S13E05: 1979.10.11-28 (Ace Combat)

Sub-Season 14A & 14B. Red Lightning - Hot Fuzz (Lightning F.6 & F-4M)
Season 14. Red Lightning - Not Supported By This Engine (A-10A Thunderbolt II)
S14E01: 1979.09.27-28 (Getting Acquainted)

S14E02: 1979.09.29-10.01 (Casual Eradication)
S14E03: 1979.10.02-07 (Surgical Firestorms)
S14E04: 1979.10.08-09 (In Maverick We Trust)

Bonus 3: Homeworld

Sub-Season 15A & 15B. Red Lightning - Continental Breakfast (Mirage 5BA & F-4F)
Season 15. Red Lightning - Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (Harrier GR.3)
S15E01: 1979.09.18-19 (Tree-hugger)

S15E02: 1979.09.20-21 (Lightweight)
S15E03: 1979.09.22-23 (Bloody Miracles)
S15E04: 1979.09.24-25 (Coming From Behind)
S15E05: 1979.09.26-27 (Deutsche Welle)

Season 16. Northern Sabre - You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat (A-7E Corsair II (74))
S16E01: 1979.09.19 (Niceland?)

S16E02: 1979.09.19-20 (Aircraft Carrier Theme Park)
S16E03: Furiously Undershooting

Season 17. Northern Sabre - Always Underpowered, Never Outgunned (F-14A Tomcat (77))
S17E01: 1979.09.19 (The Fat Cat)

S17E02: 1979.09.19-20 (Still No Phoenix)
S17E03: 1979.09.20 (The Fleet Offender)
S17E04: 1979.09.20-21 (Guns, Guns, Phoenix)
S17E05: 1979.09.21 (And the Kitchens Sink)

Season 18. The Lebanon War - Duck Tales (Kfir C2)
S18E01: 1982.06.06 (Kfir Is the MiGkiller)

S18E02: 1982.06.07 (Kfir And Loathing)
S18E03: 1982.06.08 (No Kfir)
S18E04: 1982.06.09 (Another Kfir In the Wall)

Bonus 4: Generation One

Season 19. The Lebanon War - A Viper's Bite (F-16A)
S19E01: 1982.06.06 (Overstocked)

S19E02: 1982.06.07 (NovaLogic-style)
S19E03: 1982.06.08 (Final Approach)
S19E04: 1982.06.09 (The Last Itch)

This LP has a follow-up!

The tale of our evolution
We ditched the piston engine and the propeller in favour of the jet turbine, prepared for the high speed with swept wings and stabilators; our afterburners took us to Mach 1; we received aiming assistance from a radar, streamlined our bombs and learned to pack our rockets tighter, let loose some heat-seeking missiles, dabbled in supercruising, pondered the advantages of spoilerons, hit the targets beyond visual range with semi-active radar homing missiles, deployed retarded and guided bombs, taught our missiles to sniff out the enemy radars and backed that up with inertial guidance; our computer helped us aim our unguided bombs; we played with the elevons on a tailless delta wing, aimed our bombs with our own laser, used the Doppler effect to clean up the noise on our radar screen, hit them with guided air-to-ground missiles, asked a computer to help us control the plane, tried out thrust vectoring, sampled the magical speed of a phased array radar and put some radars into our missiles, envied the speed of cruise missiles, wore canards because they look funny, and finally went full fly-by-wire.

The pilot room

Emir "Killer7" Parkreiner (retired after surviving Operation Kadesh)
Karim "Sphynx" Ibrahan suggested by Veloxyll (retired after surviving Operation Kadesh with 37 air kills)
Jack "Goldfish" Harkness suggested by SSJ Reeko (stopped the Red Tide with 39 kills)
Bruce "Footlong" Goosby suggested by Leif. (became an ace and crashed on landing on the last day of service)
Quincey "Deadleye" McGraw. born of sunburstbasser and Soup Inspector (returned to Vietnam, got captured, but started a small personality cult in the jungle)
Wilbur "A Great Santini" Meechum kinda suggested by Bacarruda (proudly wore a tight-fitting plane to Vietnam)
Peter "Fizzy" Wiseburgh suggested by Suspect Bucket (got 14 kills in six days)
Earl "Grey" Assam (builds a post-nuclear tea empire)
Flash "Lionel O" Storm inspired by Cooked Auto and Makrond (retired in the middle of a war, with 15 kills)
Don "Dingle" Berry suggested by The Casualty (tells tales of flying through the forest of smoke trails)
Che "Rebel" Castro (retired to his plane breeding ranch)
Ilan "Senator" Sharon suggested by Leif. (rode his A-4H for so long, it became a hunchback)
Randall "Duke" Cunningham suggested by Dusseldorf (got zapped by Red Lightning, and helped his unit to achieve 216 kills)
Toledo "No Callsign" Conway suggested by Strabo (crushed the Soviet forces in Germany in two weeks)
Barbara Millicent "Barbie" Roberts (searches for the Pegasus turbofan sister)
Martin "Scuba Tank" Brody (chills watching the world burn)
Pete "Maverick" Mitchell suggested by Bacarruda (departed Iceland leaving a trail of crashed Tomcats behind)
Donald "Canard" Duck (says no to re-visiting Cyprus)
Avi "Anvil" Lieberman suggested by Leif. (recommends the Lebanese airspace as a relaxing holiday destination)

Special appearances by Sodoff "Baldrick!" Baldrick.
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