So, after sooo long, we have a new kid on the block. Flight sim genre is almost having a resurgence, is it not? But what can we expect of this new title? What does it offer, and what does it deliver? Let us have a look on CAP 2, and general flavours of combat flight simming.
CAP2 has hit early access on Steam on 6 June 2016, which is the date I began writing this piece but didn’t continue, as I decided to wait until there was more meat around it to have an initial impression on. Fast forward half a year, I have now decided not to wait much more on that and push this brief look on it.
Combat Air Patrol 2 is a flight sim that features the AV-8B+ Harrier II as it’s flyable aircraft, and currently takes place in a Straight of Hormuz setting, with a smaller and greener second training map also available. It is, kind of a sequel to early 90’s title Combat Air Patrol, and in fact at least one among the developers is from the team created ye olde 90’s sim, which is kinda cool!
CAP2 aims NOT on competing with the likes of DCS or BMS on their forte: this sim neither boasts, nor aims full switch, all-on physics and page-by-page MFD sort of realism. Instead, it is a more accessible title you can enjoy more quickly, with less time and dedication required to master every little detail about your aircraft. It isn’t all-on arcade though, so it kind of hits a balance may be similar to Strike Fighters series. There are two MFDs in cockpit, and they are clickable, with multiple pages each. However, these pages are not necessarily %100 simulation of the actual thing. They are more of a simplified functional equivalent. As the sim goes on with its development, this may slightly change, for example, TWS and RWS modes are being added to air to air radar currently. Flight model isn’t quite what the state of the art sims in this field boast, but it isn’t completely super-duper easy on rails stuff either. I must say, landing on the LHD is rather difficult in fact! Speaking of which, as the aircraft we fly is the Harrier jump jet, the controls for the nozzle angle are included, and vertical takeoffs and landing are possible.
Maybe the most striking feature it boasts is a dynamic campaign, where you and your squadron is placed on a small task force consisting of your LHD and a few frigates, mean while commercial shipping and hostile flights are continuously taking place around you. You can see what’s going on in real time in map screen, and you can task your flight with custom waypoints etc to whereever you like. Currently however, engine does not seem to be generating tasking according to what’s happening around you. However, when it is developed to it’s full steam, this will give a long lasting power to CAP2.
The team is including VR support for the sim as well, in a separate VR Beta channel.
Currently the Harrier is equipped so :
- Targeting pod is always loaded in centreline pylon, and has it’s MFD page, however a fairly simplified one
- 25mm GAU-12 Equalizer cannon is on board
- Free fall bombs
- AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles
- AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles
- AGM-65 Maverick air to ground missiles
- AIM-9M Sidewinder IR guided short range air to air missiles
- AIM-120C AMRAAM active radar guided medium range air to air missiles
Graphics are nice but not amazing. It can sometimes look quite great, other times not so much. Terrain mesh is decent, and has self shadowing, textures however, are detailed but a bit mushy. Aircraft themselves are similar, they look nice, but when you get very, very close, up to nitpicking level, you can see that neither geometry, nor textures are AAA level. It’s performance however, is pretty darn good. Adding more detail to terrain is also already on the developer’s roadmap for future patches.
Speaking of patches, they are fairly regular, and developers do listen to requests and feedback from their community on the Steam forums of the product. They also post patch notes and roadmaps for future patch on their dev blog. Localization of the sim into quite a decent number of languages is also in progress.
Operating the systems is simplified: you presss a button to switch master mode, which can be read on top of the HUD. The key by default is TAB. Modes are, takeoff, landing, air to ground, air to air, and aerial refueling, which is also a thing in the sim since a patch or two ago. Pressing another key, which is W by deafult, switches between weapons available for the mode.
There various objects in sim such as gunboats, frigates, the LHD, various merchant vessels, Sea Knight helicopters, MiG-21s and F-4s. Though, unlike what we are accustomed to from other sims over the decades, you can’t view them in external view modes, at least not so far in early access version.
Another omission we sim players often look for is a mission editor of any kind. Currently apart from a few quick action and training missions, campaign itself is only thing to do, which may sometimes be sparse of action.
And last but not least, the CAP2 unfortunately does not feature multiplayer functionality currently.
It is available on Steam with quite an accessible price currently. Should you get it or not? Well depends, if you are open to idea of “not every sim needs to be bleeding edge non-concession realism”, this title can have excellent future for you to enjoy. While for DCS I am of that idea, and I fly into a fit of violence when a DCS module introduce gameplay features or guesstimations, I do appreciate the idea of CAP2 as well. Reason is that because what drive me to DCS is ultimate realism, however I fully appreciate the fact that other sims could and should provide other flavours of flight simming as well. Is CAP2 there however, at the point where someone with less time and energy to go all wild with DCS level realism can just fire it up and enjoy some sim action, even if singleplayer only?
Well… you’ll have to decide for yourself I guess. I can see in it’s Steam forums that there are people rather enjoying it. I however, at least at this point, can’t find much to do in it’s current state, which was the reason I originally help up writing this piece. If however, in it’s development further down the road, bring bits of polishing it needs to it’s features, this title has a great potential to be a great addition to the world of flight sims, as it will cater to two niches : a new dynamic campaign, and a new sim-lite. To be fair, so far the development team appear to be fairly eager and productive in keeping it’s development going on and addressing feedback.
At this point however, I would say buy it if you want to support the development of more flight sims, with a fairly lowish asking price too! If though, you want lots of content and enjoymen out of it already, I say you may be better off waiting for a bit more to see where it goes.
Anyway, I would like to conclude this one with :
- My congratulations to Sim 155 team for CAP2 and my wish for success
- …and my wishes of great new 2017 to all our readers!
Let me close with a few more screenshots :