Ideally, you want something that offers simultaneous control over all six degrees of freedom at once (preferably in an analog fashion) while allowing for other functions to be managed easily. Hell, I could play this game with just a 3Dconnexion SpacePilot and a keyboard if I wanted to. (In that case, I dedicate the SpacePilot to movement and autopilot, while the keyboard handles everything else.)
I use a Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar with a Force-Controlled Cougar mod in the stick. I didn't buy it precisely with I-War 2 in mind (it's more for Falcon 4.0), but it works excellently. Force-sensing sticks seem to lend themselves well to this game; it kind of gives me a sensation of just how hard I'm trying to turn and thus how much inertia I'll have to fight when I need to stop turning. It also has plenty of buttons and switches, and the shift function on the S3 button helps a lot.
For those of you who have sticks with fewer buttons, these are what I regard to be the most important commands that aren't the obvious ones (like the weapons, movement, or targeting/contact list controls):
You should spend the majority of your flight time with maxed engines. That means better manueverability, which is extremely important in this game, not to mention cutting your LDS drive's engage time by a third. Switch to maxed weapons when you have a firing solution with PBCs, but keep in mind that your turning rate will be reduced when you do so.
The main reason you want this within easy reach is the LDS inertia cancel trick: whenever you leave LDS, you'll always be moving 1000 m/s in whatever direction you are facing. Thus, it's sometimes convenient to start LDS just to immediately stop it and exploit this fact. It really helps for quick turnarounds, getting out of a standstill in a combat situation (a slow target is a dead one), dodging missiles (a skill you WILL master or die trying), manuevering around targets, etc. Of course, it's of no use whenever LDS is inhibited, which is why I HATE fighting in LDSi fields.
-Turret fighter commands
I've found that after you get the turret fighters, the game suddenly becomes MUCH easier. Why? The turret fighters don't seem to draw from your tug's energy, so you can just stay on maxed engines the whole time and give them a good firing solution. Also, you can keep a weapon of your choice ready while they have their PBCs ready to tear enemies a new one. The only downside is that they have a habit of using up dogfighting missiles way too early, but my combat style is based on cutting in close on a target, preferably toward the unshielded rear, and then giving them the order to unload their rapid-fire PBCs. Most ships will die quickly under such a barrage. (Especially useful if you're pirating and want to take out at least one escort before it can react.) I generally don't undock them from the tug, seeing as they ARE my primary weapons and I'd be left with just a quad light PBC otherwise.
Post edited August 23, 2011 by NamelessFragger