By natetodamax 2 Comments
The last flying game I really enjoyed was Ace Combat 4 back on the PS2. I feel I should start this off by saying that Ace Combat 4 will forever be the best flying game I have ever played, which makes the fact that my copy doesn't work even more tragic.
That doesn't mean I can't enjoy other flying games, however. IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds Of Prey is one such game. It's the first game in this genre I have enjoyed since Ace Combat 4, with the most appealing thing about it being the fact that it actually makes me feel like a pilot. The detail of the cockpits is quite incredible, with moving gauges and dials and switches that convey different pieces of information about the current state of the plane. Occasionally, I actually found myself glancing down at these to figure out how my plane was angled in relation to the horizon and such.
I played the game on Realistic difficult, which is the second highest. Simulator, the highest, is basically impossible because it doesn't mark enemies or allies on the screen, which means you literally cannot see anyone. So I went through the Campaign on Realistic instead. The main effect that the higher difficulties has is on the difficulty of flying. On Arcade, you can easily pull off loops and tight turns without worrying about going into a death spin, something that's common on Realistic if you take a turn incorrectly and pull back to hard on the stick. These controls make the flying extremely exhilarating, as you have to fight the temptation to swing your plane around as hard as you can when trying to chase a passing enemy. Furthermore, it makes the combat engagements pretty exciting, since enemy fighters are crazy good at trying to avoid your attacks. Having to keep your plane in the air while also trying to take out Nazis is really difficult, but in an exciting way.
Unfortunately, these challenging controls are a double edged sword. While they do add a nice challenge to the combat, they also make the engagements last a long time. There were some missions that took me nearly 30 minutes to complete, and one mission took me 45 minutes to complete. The reason being is that the enemy fighters, as I said, are great at avoiding your bullets, which means you'll sometimes spend nearly 5 minutes chasing after one single enemy before you actually take him out. This cat-and-mouse gameplay is cool for a while, but eventually it just gets super frustrating. I ran into cases where I spent 10 minutes chasing after a single enemy and still had about 10 more planes to destroy after finally getting him. It can get exhausting after a while.
I suppose that's to be expected, though. This isn't Ace Combat 4, where you just wait 2 seconds for a missile lock, press O, and get an instant kill. What I didn't expect, however, was for the game to do such a poor job of explaining my objectives. The dialogue is pretty bad at best, with your character in every mission waiting until your squad is about a mile away from the objective to explain what the heck you're doing, which is just weird. The actual objectives themselves always seem to end prematurely, and it's extremely jarring when it happens. For example, one mission might have "Stop The Advancing Germans" as a final objective, and the mission ends after destroying 4 out of a couple dozen advancing German planes. It's super strange when you hear the victory music and see "Mission Complete" on the screen, yet there are still dozens of Nazis on the ground and in the sky causing destruction.
Still, I played this game because it had been too long since I enjoyed some aerial combat. For the most part, I got what I wanted. The flying felt like it took a certain degree of skill and patience that wasn't impossible for a normal person to achieve. Although the combat eventually got pretty exhausting as engagements lasted longer than they should have, and the objectives weren't exactly well conveyed, I don't regret my time with the game.
Also, it pushed me over 50,000 gamerscore! Horray....?