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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Holy shit. Have I mentioned that the flare dispenser programming is scriptable via lua, in addition to the on-board programming system?

I’m getting ahead of myself. DCS: Black Shark is the first game in a new series of simulations, starting with the the Ka-50 “Black Shark” helicopter. The game runs well, the attention to detail in the simulation is incredible and … it’s really fucking hard.

I’ve been studying the flight manual for the last week or so; it’s nearly 400 pages. With a HOTAS, rudder, and TrackIR the game is … possible. I can now reliably run through the pre-flight and engine startup sequence, and get the bird in the air; I’m still learning how to utilize the weapons systems and Shkval, I have no idea how to use the navigation system.

Still sort of getting ahead of myself, but the simulation of this game borders on astounding. It’s difficult to fly (I’m running in realistic avionic and flight models), remember how all the systems interrelate, and actually succeed at a mission. On the other hand, it’s really rewarding when I manage to succeed at something; getting to the point where I could get in the air and engage autohover was particularly satisfying, and I’m pleased that I can now shoot up my home airfield (next up, shooting up enemies instead).

Right now there is not a lot of variety in terms of modern combat flight simulators, and there’s nothing on the market that compares to this, as far as I can tell. If you want to fly something bordering on realistic and blow shit up, this is a game that will reward your patience and interest.

There are a few quirks; configuration for multiple monitors is a bit hairy and not documented (by DCS at least, there are some helpful forum posts). Control mapping is painful, especially if you have multiple axis providing devices not made by the same company.

Speaking of which. I love my Saitek X52 Pro stick and throttle, but the drivers are absurdly bad. They don’t handle standby at all, and they frequently unmap themselves during gameplay (not joking). I uninstalled them and things have been working better, but if you’re considering investing in a throttle/stick combo, avoid Saitek and go for the CH Products options instead. It’ll be worth it, I promise. Saitek’s software quality just does not match their hardware quality, and it’s a dirty shame. Sorry.

But, quirks aside, this sim is worth checking out. I can’t wait until the A-10 comes out. 8/10.