As I mentioned earlier, it is clear that the campaign was made for Arcade mode. You have to play the campaign to unlock more missions, additional planes, more pilots, history lessons, and more tactical lessons. I personally am not a fan of unlocking things in games, but that is the way of the console. In addition, in IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey you do unlock some interesting stuff. Not just game related material but features such as history lessons and real combat pilot stories.
The campaigns, even with their Arcade basis, are still a lot of fun and not unexpectedly contain a ton of action. Each chapter starts with a WW2 video introduction, then a mission briefing.
You then accomplish your assigned task, and get more tasks. After completing the task, you are asked if you want to RTB (return to base) or continue. You can continue for more action, or RTB to end the mission and move on. After each mission you get your stats and a number of unlocks.
There are six chapters to the campaign with 2 to 5 missions in each.
- Battle of Britain (4 missions)
- Battle of Stalingrad (3 missions)
- Invasion of Sicily (5 missions)
- Korsun Pocket (2 missions)
- Battle of the Bulge (3 missions)
- Battle for Berlin (3 missions)
Click here to view a Flash screenshow of the Campaigns.
As I said earlier, missions are unlocked when you do the campaign. Not just the missions in the campaign but also the extra missions are unlocked. The missions are actually a lot better and more suited for realistic and simulator modes. They are more realistic with real goals, and a reasonable set of friends and foes.
The different types of missions are escorts, attacks, defensive missions, surgical strikes, recon, and others.
First the bad news, there is no cooperative play available in IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, and that’s too bad because I think the campaign, and the single missions would of supported 4-player co-op without issues, but that’s just me.
The good news is that the multiplayer works, and is a lot of fun with friends. You can play multiplayer in any difficulty you want. However, you cannot force certain things like cockpit view only. Therefore, unless you play with trusted friends you may never know if someone is playing fair on the other side.
When connecting to Xbox live you can play in a ranked match, for scores, or just create your own match. You can also check the leader board and see who leads in online score points.
You get four different types of game play modes, again with either arcade, realistic, or simulator modes.
Dogfight is the simple everyone for themselves, the most kills win type of gameplay. You can set the kill limit and/or time limit.
Team Battle is more like team dogfight mode, where your split into two teams and dog fight the enemy for team points. This would be great except that there’s no way to force friend or foe planes, so someone on the allies can take a Bf-109, and with labels off you would have a very hard time figuring out friend from foe. They should have included the option to lock planes on each side.
Strike is more of a ground attack type game mode. Each team must destroy the enemy’s ground units while defending their own.
Capture Airfields is where two teams try and capture and hold as many airfields as possible, while attempting to keep the enemy off any friendly controlled airfields.
Click here to view a Flash screenshow of Multiplayer gameplay.
Overall, IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey is a damn good WW2 flight game. Certainly the best flight game to date for the Xbox 360 console system. Sure, it is not as much simulator as its PC counterpart, but it gets closer than anything else (so far) on a console.
Graphics and sounds are incredible, minus the overdone blooming effect. Gameplay is fun and exciting. The missions in the campaign are well presented, but it is obvious the campaign missions were made with unlimited fuel and ammo, which is more suited for arcade mode.
Once you complete the campaign and unlock all the extra planes, articles, and missions, the simulation of the game starts to shine.
The extra missions and the “training,” what I call the quick mission editor, are fantastic and made more realistic and more for the hardcore simulation fan.
Some planes are missing the correct cockpit views. The P-47 cockpit is used repeatedly in the Allied fighters, so your P-51 Mustang will have a Jug cockpit. Wonderful. Let’s hope for a patch fix soon that addresses that one.
Externally, the planes are well modeled and displayed.
Bottom line, this is the best flying game ever for the Xbox 360 console system. At a reduced price of 50 bucks compared to the usual 60 bucks, this game is highly recommended for any flight simulation fan.
- Graphics quality.
- Diverse scenery, locations, and weather in campaigns.
- Terrific sound effects.
- Multiplayer works well in various difficulty levels.
- Extra unlock stuff like tactical articles, manever demos, and WW2 battle stories.
- Quick mission editor (aka Training).
Could Be Better
- No co-op multiplayer mode.
- Provide an option for limited ordinance in the campaign mode.
- Smoother gameplay in intense/complex combat situations.
- Turn down the bloom effect.
- Fix the cockpits!
Reviewer’s System Specs
- Microsoft Xbox 360 console
- 50 inch HD TV monitor
- 700 watt 5.1 surround sound
- Saitek AV8R-02 joystick
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