Thursday, July 30, 2009

IL-2 Sturmovik:Birds of Prey demo impressions

IL-2 Sturmovik demo - available now on X360

I was very curious to test the demo of Birds of Prey - which promised to be the first attempt to serious flight simulation on consoles in a while...so I downloaded it as soon as I got back home yesterday and played it for a while...

The demo consists of a brief tutorial and two missions: an air defence mission on a Spitfire over the Dover cliffs and a ground support mission on a P-51 in Germany.

The initial impression was of a huge disappointment: the demo starts in "arcade" mode and it is basically "Ace Combat WWII" (albeit more realistic in flight model and gunnery). Usual console flight-action and much disappointment.

Once you have completed the tutorials or a mission, the demo unlocks "realistic" and "simulation" modes: of course I immediately switched to "simulation" and it made huge difference. For example you cannot use external views, nor you have any kind of markers on targets or waypoints. Damage model is realistic, and its effect on maneuvering is reasonable. Much more important, the flight model is challenging: ham-fisted yoke handling will result in plenty of stall and spins - by the way, spin-recovery works in the proper way. Plane handling raises the biggest question mark on the simulation mode and it is control peripherals. Flight sticks are rare among X360 owners (and not widely available in shops) and controlling the plane with the pad does not feel right: the control scheme is weird with some good points (triggers to "zoom" the view and fire -ala Call of Duty) and some bad ones (right thumbstick controls both throttle and rudder...)
What I like:
  • Finally a serious attempt to bring a flight simulation on XBox 360.
  • Graphics: plane models, cockpit and landscapes are generally wonderful and the game is smooth.
  • Unforgiving flight models in simulation mode.
What I do not like:
  • Gamepad control is definitely not good enough for simulation mode
  • Graphics: special effects (like water reflection, gunfire or smokes) are mediocre
  • Some artistic licence in cockpits, liveries, historical accuracy and realism (e.g. no blackouts, redouts or g-loc)
All in all,being a PC-simmer I am not sold on this one. But it is a good attempt - so good that I was trying to hit the "ESC" key of the PC keyboard (sitting next to the 360 pad) to go back to the menu. Worth a second look.
Last, I understand producers wanted to underline the legacy to the "Sturmovik" series...but really does not make much sense to keep Sturmovik in the title. Aside, "Birds of Prey" reminded me of an old simulation game I used to play on Amiga. It was great...but definitely too ambitious for that time...

8 comments:

Olga y Daniel said...

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Olga y Daniel

ScimmiaSpaziale said...

Seems that spamming is still popular...

Garth said...

The PC prevails I see :-) but good to know the dynamics in flight are good. That's the single most important thing to me .just as a reference...are the gauges fully working? It would be a shame if they didn't.

ScimmiaSpaziale said...

Yes, cockpit seem fully functional...but non-clickable (as there is no mouse!). Engine reaction seems too abrupt...but maybe it is just me not being used to props...

Some users are getting mad as the P-51 cockpit is not authentic and resembles more the P-47 one (developers confermed this was intentional - without explaining why - and may be possibly fixed later on).

As there are many different flyable planes I expect some more "recycling" in the actual game.
BTW Shadows and reflections in the cockpit look really good.

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