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IL2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey
While next generation consoles are able to run almost any kind of game going, there’s a conspicuous lack of Flight Sims out there. It could be the case that they tend to be the game of choice for PC gamers who have a full keyboard and a joystick at hand, or simply the fact that the attempts to created them have always turned out more like arcade shoot-em-ups; such as the Blazing Angels series.
Even then the emphasis was on the shooting and combat rather than making any attempt at letting you fly a plane. Which is why IL2 Sturmovik is such a revelation. Based on the hugely successful PC game, Birds of Prey bridges the gap between the fun Nazi-blasters and a real combat simulation. Letting you play through the game either on ‘arcade mode’, ‘Realistic’and ‘Simulation’.
Compared to the Blazing Angels games, this is an amazing step in the right direction. The game is long enough to keep any player entertained, as the arcade mode means that you can enjoy the shooting and flying without worrying about the difficulty ramping up. The simulation mode is for experts only as a wrong move will send you hurtling into the earth like a dart. What’s even better is that the craft will react according to any damage you receive and will handle badly if a wing gets perforated by enemy fire. Realistic manages to find a pleasant middle ground where players can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Sturmovik also tries to teach you a little bit of history and aircraft tactics.Â There are lengthy montages of real footage between campaigns which are narrated brilliantly by Joss ‘Diplomatic Immunity‘ Ackland. He also reads out diary entries from the pilots you play, recounting their feelings about each mission after you’ve completed it. It’s a nice touch, as they convey a real sense of seriousness and often the readings touch upon the many deaths suffered on both sides, making you genuinely feel sorry for the enemies.
In fact, the game manages to elicit the sense that the opposing sides are human far better than most other war games, especially when you can hear the panicked radio-chatter from your own kills as they hurtle to oblivion, screaming in German or Italian.
While the game is a fantastic experience that sounds and looks amazing, there are a few problems. To begin with, the music is incredibly repetative and will be quickly turned off by most people. There is also the tendency for your wingmen to be utterly incapable of managing any aspects of missions themselves, meaning you need to do everything yourself, even in skies filled with slow moving targets.
These are small gripes in a game this good , which can really be overlooked considering what’s on offer. When you’re hammering away at a dozen German Heinkel 111s in your Hurricane or playing online against a wing of assorted Spitfires and Sturmoviks, you’re not going to be thinking about the about the music or the computer’s skills, you’ll just be pumping out adrenaline and living the Big Show. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a WWII Ace, this is the game that’ll let you experience it.