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IL- 2 Sturmovik birds of prey is here and many have been eagerly waiting for this game to land on a console. But can it fly to new heights or will it crash in a massive fireball. IL- 2 Sturmovik birds of prey is the first in the series of games to make the jump from PC to console. IL-2 Sturmovik is a highly acclaimed WWII combat flight simulator, each game focused on a different campaign in the different stages of WWII. The game gets its name from the Soviet Ilyushin IL-2 ground attack fighter, which played a prominent role in the original game and also the actual events the game was set around and is the single most produced military aircraft design to date. Along with its sequels, IL-2 Sturmovik is considered one of the leading World War II flight simulators.

Well enough of the history lesson on with the actual game. As all the previous games Birds Of Prey takes place in WWII across six different fronts in Europe. Some of the places you will get to dog fight over are the white cliffs of Dover, Snow covered Stalingrad, the peaceful towns of Sicily and the Ardennes. All are recreated with great detail, though your not here to sight see. One of the stands out features in this game has to be the damage your plane suffers during battle. From wings riddled with bullet holes to whole fuels larges braking in two and the oil pouring out onto your windscreen. Nothing beats the feeling of chasing a germen pilot for ages then finally nailing him and watching him plummet to the ground below and explode in a balloon of smoke.

Once you start the game you will be asked to start the tutorial mode to learn the basics of aviation and will be accompanied by the voice talent of Stephen Fry gibbering in your ear. This mode is vital to learn the ropes for any flight sim novice. Single player offers two options Campaign mode or single missions. The campaign mode is what you would expect, you are given a plane, set objectives and optional goals and try to complete these and come home for a quick spot of tea and crumpets. Some of the objectives you will be set are varied as each campaign will have you flying a different variety of aircraft from slow bombers like the Blenheim MK IV to quick and nimble fighters like the Spitfire.

The single mission mode is a shorter version of the campaign missions, but is great for a solo run. As you progress through the campaign mode you will unlock more missions and aircraft for the single missions. The campaign mode offers solid content based around historical events where as the single missions offer more variety. So no matter what you choose you will be up against various enemies from air, ground and sea. So you could be controlling a bomber squadron making its run over an enemy airfield or you will have to blow enemy ships out of the sea. The mixing up within the objectives and missions leave this game feeling fresh each time you play and prevent from gamplay getting stale.

Il 2 Sturmovik Birds Of Prey

The campaign mode can be complete in around 5 to 6 hours on arcade but if you want a real challenge try your hand realistic or even simulation once you have completed the campaign once. Yes arcade is great and sometimes can be challenging but to those out there wanting a real flight sim this game can also offer that as the controls become ridiculously hard when you up the difficulty settings. If do choose realistic then you will have to deal with no radar or which planes belong to the enemy so you will have to learn the shape and colour of friendly’s and hope that last guy wasn’t your pal john. Not only is that a bugger to handle but once you have figured out who’s who you have to become skilled enough to actually fly the plane. Persevere with IL-2’s simulation mode and you’ll also have every form of aerodynamic physics attempting to pull your plane apart, and every slight turn could result in you screaming into a death spiral. The realism is relentless and astonishingly difficult to get to grips with. I strongly suggest only the true biggles out there tackle sim mode.

Now as this game is set in WWII your aircraft won’t have lock on missiles or radar jammer. But then neither will the enemy, so most of the time you will be dueling with an enemy with just your guns and depending on which aircraft you choose the rate of fire that plane. So if you have a Hurricane MK II you will be armed with 12 machine guns, choose the IL-2 and you will receive 2 machine guns and 2 cannons. Each aircraft has different weapons but can also offer better speed and handling. You will sometimes get missiles that fire straight ahead but are lethal on ground enemies and bombs to clear ground targets.

This Game offers a pretty good online multiplayer mode where you can either play ranked or social matches with up to 16 players at once. Now online offers four different game types Dogfight, Team battle capture the airfields or strike. Now Dogfight and team battle are basically death match and team death match so the usual rules apply. First to reach a set number of kills or highest score when time runs out wins. Capture the airfields again is the usual game of capture the flag only flags this time are airfields in which you will have to land your planes to capture said airfield. Strike is the best mode as you will have to work as a team to both attack enemy ground targets and defend your own. Points are awarded for aerial and ground targets destroyed though you get more points for ground targets.

All in all this game is a must buy for any war game fan. As the game just looks and sounds stunning and with over 50 single player missions and scalable gameplay from arcade to simulator there is plenty to keep you happy. Not to mention the staggering list of 42 unlockable planes for multiplayer mode. If you enjoy WWII shooters or are a bit of a simulation nerd this is for you as you can’t get any closer to flying then this, I think.

9 Ninja Heads out of 10

Ninja score 9 out of 10