Xbox 360 Review – IL-2 Sturmovic: Birds of Prey

Who dares, wins. ‘Nuff said.

Pilot fighters, battle planes or heavy bombers through a diverse range of thrilling missions. Five epic battles representing the main airborne conflicts of World War II in Europe are available – The Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, Berlin, Sicily and Korsun. As well as advanced environmental visuals, IL-2 also boasts an all new damage effects engine allowing for real time damage to the aircraft such as holes in the wings and trail lines during dog fights.

Hundreds of airplanes taking part in air battles is a distinguishing feature of IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey and the unique environmental engine also produces realistic, highly detailed landscapes that allows players to see a brand new simulation of ground support actions.
When it comes to flight simulators, I’m in 2 minds about what they should be. I’m more a fan of the arcade style blasters like Lylat Wars, Rogue Squadron and so on but I did enjoy HAWX to some degree. IL-2 Sturmovik Birds of Prey is the latest addition of the famous series, but this time it lands on consoles. These types of games are usually better suited to PC’s, but let’s put it through its paces to see if it has enough firepower.

Birds of Prey contains a lengthy single player campaign that is simply a delight to play. It’s one of those games that get better the more you play it. It can be a bit off-putting at first but it has 2 different ways of control that make it accessible to both casual and hardcore gamers, it does however make it a bit on the easy side. It’s only a small complaint and with 50 missions to conquer, it’s not something that is going to bother you that much.
The controls take a while to get used to, but once you do…it all becomes second nature. I was skeptical that they could map the controls for a flight sim onto a console controller like the 360 but it does feel very natural and easy to get to grips with. Each plane handles smoothly but realistically to their respective models and the presentation standard for Birds of Prey is surprisingly high. Multiplayer is also a blast with Team Battle, Dogfight and Capture Airfields modes. It would have been nice to have a co-op mode for the single player campaign, but it’s only another small complaint that doesn’t hold the game back that much. It just feels like it would have benefited from it greatly and be incredibly hard to beat.

Locations are detailed and beautiful to look at as you fly over them; it’s a visual treat and makes good use of the hardware. You can fly in any camera angle you wish, such as the cockpit or exterior views. Each angle changes the atmosphere of the game, not to mention the way you play. I personally prefer the exterior view, but purists will probably want to fly from the perspective of the pilot. Music can be quite dramatic at times, and the voice-acting is gritty and well done.

The Verdict

IL-2 Sturmovik is perhaps the best flight sim to grace the consoles, at least at the moment. It has a wealth of things to do, hard achievements to earn and most important of all…it’s fun to play. It is simply a must-buy for flight sim enthusiasts and the game makes no compromises for being on something other than the PC.