Peanuts Not Included
A few years ago I happened by a game I wasn't sure whether to expect much of it or not. Reasonably sure it would be another in a long line of low budget fairly flawed combat flight sims, I began playing it, mostly because at the time I happened to be in the market for a collection of any flight games that supported Force Feedback to give the then-new Saitek Cyborg Force joystick a fair shakedown. What I found both amazed and stunned me. It wasn't another in a series of poorly made flight sims, but was indeed one of the only few to live up to its promise, aside from Microsoft's late Combat Flight Simulator series which was unfortunately a little too detailed in the aviation mechanics for its own good to appeal to any usability-minded audience. While extremely detailed, this new title managed to keep it a bit more open and fun without having to first read the FAA rulebook, yet was still exceptionally daunting, and still appealed only to a very small audience.
The game, of course, was the original IL-2 Sturmovik which went on to become one of the standard bearers of the WWII combat flight genre, spinning a long web of expansions and equals from Forgotten Battles which focused on the lesser encapsulated wars within the WWII theater, to Pacific Fighters which, as the name implies covers the Pacific theater of WWII. While it's somewhat unfair to call Birds of Prey a true sequel, technically it's an updated console port featuring new gameplay and updated graphics, in all practical respects, it's indeed a long awaited sequel to the PC game.
Obvious from the very start, virtually everything has been updated. It won't take a second look to realize that the graphics are a whole new level from anything we've seen in the PC versions, as unusual as that may be to have to say in any review. Water is reflective, the trees have realistic foliage, the ground stays largely in focus and doesn't dither out into a blurry mess as you gain altitude. This goes a long, long way to adding to the sense of flight and realism that was missing in earlier titles.
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