The Last Days really shines in the environment category. From the start of the first mission where I had to take off it was readily apparent. The airfields are truly beautiful. Jumping outside the cockpit I noticed that the AAA are actually in bunkers. Some of the air defenses are even in battery strength. Aircraft are parked in revetments with service ground vehicles nearby. Towing vehicles and ammo carriers trundle about while you’re firing up your engine. There are tree lines along the runways on some airfields also. Fuel and ammo dumps accompany the larger fields.
There is road traffic that does not have to be part of your mission. On several missions I have encountered small convoys of trucks, tanks, and cars on the road. Trains are a big part of the campaign targets as they should be. Even if they are not part of the mission you’ll still see them during your flights. On the downside, some of the traffic does some wacky stuff. For instance, I have seen some trains crossing the middle of Lake Balaton; without a bridge.
Major targets are well defended with anti aircraft defenses. At times the ground fire can be murderous. I have lost entire flights to ground fire. When planning missions I found it necessary to not follow the waypoints. A quick in and out strategy is necessary to survive sometimes. Without question, TLD’s strongest perk is attention to detail in the environment category.
Campaigns take place in famous areas where the last months of the war were fought. You’ll be flying in places like, Bastogne, Lake Balaton, Lvov, and Berlin. There are numerous mid to late war aircraft available to choose from on most campaign setup screens. So, it is possible to fly the three major types of campaigns (bomber, fighter, fighter bomber) with a great variety of aircraft.
Hungarian campaigns are bomber, dive bomber, and fighter taking place in either Lvov or Lake Balaton.
For the Luftwaffe there is bomber, fighter, Ta-152 and Zerstörer on the Berlin map. The Bastogne map has bomber, fighter, fighter bomber, Stuka tank buster, and Zerstörer campaigns. A Lake Balaton dive bomber campaign is available also. Finally, there is bomber, dive bomber, and fighter campaigns on the Lvov map.
R.A.F. campaigns are either bomber or fighter on the Bastogne map.
The Americans have bomber, fighter, and fighter bomber campaigns on the Bastogne map. There are also bomber and fighter campaigns on the Berlin map.
The Soviets have fighter, fighter bomber, and Sturmovik campaigns on the Berlin map. They also have IL-2 ground attack on the lake Balaton map. Finally, they have fighter, fighter bomber, and IL2 campaigns on the Lvov map.
I had planned to start several campaigns and fly a few missions for this review. After a few flights I felt that this would not be an adequate representation of this product. As I have stated above, TLD has an excellent environment. Therefore, I have written this to portray the effect of the environment on both the campaigns and single missions. TLD is not a, “jump in your airplane, shoot up the bad guys and RTB,” campaign system. You are flying in an active and reactive battle area.
In the attack / bomber aircraft campaigns you need to pay attention to the briefings! After one mission on ground attack I found out the hard way. I realized that I have fell into the lazy habit of following my waypoints and attacking what was in my way. TLD will have you frustrated quickly if you plan to behave in this manner. My second mission I took notes at the briefing and was prepared to do some work.
I jumped into an IL-2 and headed out to attack a supply train. We reached our target on time and there was no train to be found. After checking my notes of the briefing I called my flight back into formation. Hugging the deck to avoid any air defenses, we approached the town where the train would be headed. Well, she was early today, and she had a visitor. Standing at the platform was not only our target train but also a nice fat fuel train!
I ordered my group to attack as I loitered on the outskirts of the village. Once they had expended their ordinance I made a bombing run that destroyed nearly all the remaining targets. With the attack complete we formed up and headed home. I decided that on the return flight we would troll some roads. Sure enough this provided targets of opportunity. We made several attack runs on enemy vehicles during the trip home.
The above example is the norm in The Last Days. I found myself scouring the countryside when I had the time, ammo, and gas. The phenomena of ground vehicles trundling about is not limited to attack missions alone. Many times after a successful fighter CAP my flight would dive down to the deck and see what was happening. Sure enough the world down there is alive. It can be dangerous in many ways too. It is sound practice to make sure you ID your targets. There may be friendly’s near!
Expect to plan your missions in TLD. This product does not cater to pilots who do not want to do their homework. Planning routes is essential. I found myself studying the map very carefully before each mission. Larger towns, airfields, and rail hubs are bound to have large concentrations of air defenses. These need to be avoided at all costs. One mishap in the route can have you flying over a proverbial hornets nest. Quickly, entire flights can be decimated. Whenever I had to fly through these areas, the plan that worked best was to come in at tree / roof top level, make one pass and get out of there. Any attempt to loiter in these areas is suicide.