Flight Commander 2 (FC2) is not really a flight simulator at all ... but rather a turn-based, tactical, jet-age air combat war game. So what is FC2 doing in the Flight Sim Museum? It's here because it shares many of the elements of combat flight simulators, and appeals to many of the same people who enjoy flight sims.
It models many types of aircraft and weapons for dozens of countries, from early Korean War jets to the latest models of the 1990's. Differences in performance, weapons, sensors, and signatures are accurately modeled, and you must take these differences into account if you are to win engagements, battles, and campaigns.
Each game-turn represents a fixed amount of time, and for each of the aircraft on your side, you must assign an action (typically a turn, maneuver, or weapon launch), using an on-screen joystick, throttle, and buttons. After your turn, aircraft are moved, sensors are checked, weapons are made available to fire (if within parameters), and the opponent replies, moving its aircraft in response. It takes longer to explain than to do -- in fact, even without the available keyboard shortcuts, the turn cycles are very streamlined and intuitive. FC2 is easy to learn and play, but like any good game, not always that easy to win!
The nice thing for flight sim fans is that any sim-derived knowledge of air combat will apply directly to FC2.
You may know from USNF 97 (or other sims, or from reading) that the Vietnam-era F-4 Phantom was an energy fighter, that it lacked guns in some models, and that its Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles had serious limitations. This knowledge will help you greatly in FC2 when you are faced with MiG-17 and MiG-21 fighters -- angles fighters who will out-turn and beat the F-4 if it is not flown correctly. You have to use correct tactics, and it's especially interesting to try various multi-aircraft team tactics such as pincers or drags in addition to boom-and-zoom vs. turn-and-burn.
FC2 comes with single air battles from Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm -- even scenarios from the movie "Top Gun!" There are campaigns consisting of linked missions in which resource and crew management are also important factors. It includes a mission generator that gives endless variety, with user choices as well as random elements. You can change several settings that affect realism and difficulty. There's a nice little reference library, and the manual is quite good as well. AI is surprisingly good -- it knows the strengths and weaknesses of all the aircraft and plays accordingly (though it will make mistakes on easier settings). "
FC2 runs on a 486 or better, under Windows 3.1 or later (and for Mac, too). It's a straight Windows-based program that doesn't require 3D hardware or even a joystick (they say it's air combat for the brain more than for the trigger-finger - it even runs under Windows 2000). I find it both fun and educational, and since it only requires 15 MB of drive space, I have it installed on my notebook PC for trips -- it gives me a way to explore and play with air combat almost anywhere.
MiGMan thanks FlyingSinger for this overview.
Big Time software developed the game which was published by the now defunct Avalon Hill and distributed by Hasbro. As of July 2000 it is unavailable.