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Review: IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey - Xbox 360, PS3

by Steven Williamson on 7 September 2009, 13:43

Tags: 505Games, Xbox 360, PS3, Simulation

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Take to the skies of war-torn Europe

What's it about?
Since the IL-2 Sturmovik series landed on PC in 2001, the hardcore WWII combat flight simulator has gathered quite a glowing reputation among aerial combat enthusiasts. Hailed as being a leader in its genre, it was only a matter of time then before it got the green light for consoles, and although the genre doesn’t naturally lend itself to the constraints of a joy-pad, IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey hopes to give the console crowd a taste of what they’ve been missing out on.

IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey is essentially a condensed version of the PC series, tweaked for consoles and offering a sprinkling of military operations from World War II, alongside a multiplayer component that boasts 16 players online, rather than the 100 players that the PC version accommodates.The aerial combat game follows, in chronological order, six scenarios from World War II: the Battle of Britain, the Battle of Stalingrad, the Allied Invasion of Sicily, the Battle of Korsun Pocket and the Battle of Berlin. Scenarios consist of a handful of missions based on these historical events and boast a varied array of unlockable objectives that swell the number of overall missions in the game to 50 or so.

The missions are varied and range from airfield assaults and escort objectives to night-time reconnaissance objectives. In addition to fighting in large-scale aerial battles, there are land-based challenges that you have to complete, such as preventing enemy supply trucks from reaching their destination, or taking out anti-aircraft units. Predominantly though, you'll spend the majority of the game learning to steer your plane effectively and shooting down the bad guys. Gameplay leans more toward the arcade side of the fence than hardcore simulation, but that doesn't make it any less challenging and there are a variety of settings that you can switch between that tweak the learning curve.

IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey offers three game modes: arcade, realistic and simulator, though you have to unlock the latter two as you progress. Play in arcade mode and you’re given infinite ammo and fuel, navigation aids are turned on and no matter how badly you fly you won’t be able to stall your plane. Ramp it up to simulator and things are markedly different and more challenging. You’re restricted to just a cock-pit view and given no on-screen help at all. You’ll even have to learn to differentiate between friendly and enemy planes.

Though some planes from the PC version of IL-2 Stumovik haven't made the final cut for consoles there's still a vast array of aircraft to commandeer, including the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt and of course the famous Soviet attack aircraft that bears the game’s name, the IL-2. They're all historically accurate in terms of design and real-time damage adds a level of realism to some of the ferocious dog-fights that you'll become embroiled in.

Away from the comprehensive single player mode, the multiplayer component hosts 16 players online and offers four game modes: Dogfight, Team Dogfight, Ground Strike and Capture the Airship.



Gameplay impressions overleaf...