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The game includes a wide variety of jets and weapons which can be employed in various mission types such as MIG-CAP (MiG combat air patrol), strike, air support, Iron Hand, and reconnaissance. The game is based on the Strike Fighters: Project 1 engine and was developed by Third Wire Productions.
Although it can be installed as stand-alone, this title can also be installed merged with Strike Fighters 2 to provide a wider selection of stock airplanes to fly and fight against.
Strike Fighters 2 : Vietnam is a vastly enhanced simulation based on Wings Over Vietnam and released in 2009. The game was primarily rewritten to work on Vista and Windows 7 but this also means the game can take advantage of Microsoft's DX10/11 graphics engine. Although sticking to the "Lite" tag as previous Thirdwire games the developer has improved the flight models, and Artificial Intelligence to the point that the series is moving towards more realistic simulation with every iteration.
Despite the "Lite" tag, a fair amount of realism has been built in; 60s-style bombsights are simulated rather than modern computer-aided aiming reticules. Dive bombing and level bombing techniques have to be worked out by the game player if they are to have success at completing missions.
US Air to Air missiles in the game consist of early versions of the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, and AIM-4 Falcon which are simulated to be as unreliable as the real missiles were. So regardless of having a "good lock on the target" there is a good chance the missile will miss. Just like the real accounts from the war suggest most of the dogfights are close in affairs with the nimble MiGs against the heavier less nimble US Aircraft.
The map of Vietnam has been scaled down slightly so that there is less time spent flying to a target, and also because air-to-air refuelling is not included in the game.
During a mission the player will fly in a flight of aircraft in which the computer-controlled planes keep in formation as you fly to a target. This flight can be issued commands; attack other aircraft or ground targets, fly home if they are damaged, or jettison their drop tanks. As you fly many other computer-controlled aircraft will be up in the air and can be viewed as they engage in dogfights or bomb targets.
True to the Vietnam theatre the player's aircraft will be met with a high level of radar guided Surface to Air Missiles (SAMS), and a variety of lethal Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA). The main SAM is the soviet SA-2, of which early and later versions are included in the game increasing lethality accordingly.
The player can select a campaign from either Operation Rolling Thunder (1965 to 1968), Linebacker I (1972) or Linebacker II (1972) which are similar in name and aircraft involved to the actual campaigns from the conflict.
Single Missions are also available, which can be customised to allow the player to practice with specific aircraft and weapons.
The game has been designed so that it can be changed by anyone with a passion to do so. This has spawned a large online community who not only play the game but go out of their way to improve the game as much as they can. Most modders works can be downloaded and used for free by any game player.
Mods include new vehicle models, flight physics and AI behaviour, campaigns, missions, sound and graphics media.
The standard game comes with the following flyable US aircraft:
- F-100 Super Sabre - The F-100D version is included for the Air Force in yearly avionics blocks.
- F-105 Thunderchief - The F-105D version is included for the Air Force in yearly avionics blocks.
- A-4 Skyhawk - The A-4C, A-4E and A-4F versions are included for the Navy/Marines in yearly avionics blocks.
- A-7 Corsair II - The A-7A, A-7B, A-7C, A-7D, A-7E versions are included for the USAF and US Navy in yearly avionics blocks.
- F-4 Phantom II - The F-4B and F-4J versions are included for the Navy/Marines and the F-4C, F-4D and F-4E versions are included for the Air Force in yearly avionics blocks.
- F-8 Crusader- The F-8C, F-8D, F-8E, F-8H, and F-8J versions are included for the Navy/Marines in yearly avionics blocks.
The following non-flyable aircraft:
- A-1 Skyraider - The A-1H and A-1J for the USAF and US Navy.
- A-6 Intruder - The A-6A version is included for the Navy/Marines.
- B-52 Stratofortress - B-52D version.
- B-57 Canberra - B-57B version.
The computer-controlled North Vietnamese aircraft:
- MiG-17 Fresco - MiG-17F version.
- MiG-19 Farmer - MiG-19S version.
- MiG-21 Fishbed - MiG-21F, PFM, MF and PFV versions.
- Shenyang J-6 - Chinese License built MiG-19
The developer of the series
This series of games is designed by Tsuyoshi Kawahito (known as 'TK'), who was also involved in some of the 1990s best selling PC flight simulators, including European Air War (1998) by MicroProse and Longbow 2 (1997) by Jane's Combat Simulations.
Related games based on the Strike Fighters game engine
- Strike Fighters: Project 1 (2002): The initial release centers on a fictional Middle Eastern scenario.
- Strike Fighters: Gold (2004): An updated version of Project 1 released to the European market.
- Wings Over Vietnam (2004): Set during the Vietnam war.
- Wings Over Europe (2006): Set in a possible Cold War conflict.
- First Eagles: The Great War 1918 (2006): Set in the World War I era.
- First Eagles: Expansion Pack 1 (2007): Expansion pack for the First Eagles with new planes and campaigns.
- Wings Over Israel (2008): (Also released as Combat Over Israel) Covers the three historical Israel versus Arab conflicts 1967, 1973, and 1982.
- First Eagles: Gold (2008): Includes the Original 'First Eagles' and Expansion Pack together.
- Strike Fighters 2 (2008): A standalone update based on the original Strike Fighters: Project 1 to run on Windows Vista.
- Strike Fighters 2:Vietnam (2009): A standalone update based on the original Wings Over Vietnam to run on Windows Vista.
- Strike Fighters 2:Europe (2009): A standalone update based on the original Wings Over Europe to run on Windows Vista.