Graphics and Sound
The original Battle of Britain was not a graphic marvel. It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but compared to WW2 Fighters it looked slightly dated. It had some really nice features, most notably the best looking clouds in the business, but it failed in some areas. The terrain looked somewhat artificial. The water was ugly. The aircraft looked realistic but only to a point. At the same time you really got the impression you were flying in a huge battle and often this made up for the less than cutting edge graphics. It has to be remembered that this game was an update of the original MiG Alley engine and as such the original engine dates back to 1997 (even older if you think about development).
The changes Shockwave has done with the engine are amazing, especially if you compare it to the original version of the game. Some of this stuff was due to the diligent work of the BDG team; they really kept the game up after most people had forgotten about it, while much more is completely brand new stuff from the Shockwave team.
The aircraft look downright beautiful. The original aircraft in the game almost seemed too bright to me. The entire game was slightly darkened and given something of a deeper color palette that actually reminds me of another game that is near and dear to my heart. EAW had a look about it that for some reason just propelled me into the conflict and BOB2 has a similar feel to it. It is hard sometimes to put a finger on why something like this just makes you feel like you are in the past. The almost pastel feel that I get from the game almost makes it feel dreamlike.
The aircraft have been completely reworked and each one looks remarkably like their counterpart. Probably the closest to this level of accuracy was seen in several aircraft from the IL-2 series and there will undoubtedly be comparisons between the aircraft graphics in both sims. IL-2 continues to be the benchmark as far as graphics and accuracy in aircraft models. Any comparison can only be complementary for both games.
Likewise, the cockpits of the aircraft have been redone admirably well. There are some minor errors that have been pointed out on the boards. In general people have been satisfied with the accuracy. I haven’t sat down and poured over screenshots of the cockpits and compared them with the pics I have of the actual cockpits. In general I feel the cockpits are pretty close representations of what their real world counterparts looked like.
A good and bad thing noted concerning the cockpits: First the bad. Some folks have found that the gauges in some of the cockpits (the Bf 109 I have seen pics of) show needles upside down. I haven’t seen that in my own cockpits but some people have complained — it is something that will need to be investigated and patched down the line. This isn’t an immersion killer but it can make reading fuel and temperature gauges somewhat hard.
The good thing is the fully 3D cockpits with 6DOF TrackIR control. To date this is only the second 6DOF flight simulation that I have flown (the other is Aces High II) and this game right now sets the standard on how it should be implemented. The player gets an almost perfect panning in the cockpit with the ability to zoom in on that gauge, or, on that target.
The only complaint that I really have right now with the cockpit lies with the BF 110’s pit. For some reason you can only look ninety degrees side to side in the pit — you can’t try to see anything coming even close to your four or eight o’clock. I know the vision out of the 110 was horrible but you should be able to at least look farther than your left shoulder.
The terrain graphics are much improved although I don’t think that they are quite on par with some of the latest simulations or even some of the mixed fps/flight games that have come out. I don’t expect graphics on par with Battlefield 2 or even IL-2 with this game. What I expect is for the ground effects to not detract from the game and Battle of Britain II succeeds in that. The terrain is darker now, the forests are not quite as blocky as they were in the first game but to me the terrain is not a whole lot different from the original game.