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My Birds of Prey review/opinion...

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  • My Birds of Prey review/opinion...

    Reviews are like... everyone has one... but here is my review/opinion of IL2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey for the Xbox 360 console system. If your interested.

    IL2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey Review
    For the Xbox 360 Console System
    By: Chuck ďMagnumĒ Ankenbauer


    PC gamers have known the excellence of the IL2 Sturmovik series for years. Console gamers had to suffer through flight games like Blazing Angels and Tom Clancyís H.A.W.K. But now 505 Games has brought us hope. Hope that a near simulation WW2 fighter game can make it on a console system.
    Now I donít pretend that any game released on the Xbox 360 console system could match the power and speed of the personal computer. The right PC is a power house with many more program options, but I do dive into Birds of Prey hoping for something close to simulation.

    Graphics and Sounds:

    The graphics in Birds of Prey are really fantastic and a sight to see. There is no pop up like you would think with all the details, and the system handles it all well with only an occasional slight pause. The ground objects and the terrain is some of the best Iíve ever seen on an Xbox 360. The sky is filled with friendly and enemy forces, and yet the Xbox 360 handles it all well, and it looks beautiful on a 50 inch 1080p HD TV. The only real complaint I have about the graphics is too much bloom, which seems to be the norm these days for both PC and console games, and with all the assist on, way too crowded visually.

    The sounds are also incredible. Now I sure donít know the difference between two different aircraft sounds, but you can tell there is a difference between most. The sounds of the guns, rockets, and bombs are some of the best Iíve heard in a WW2 game. Not sure how they did it but in a 700 watt 5.1 surround sound system you can hear the bombs hit targets and the earth shakes. Probably more than a real 250 pounder or 500 pounder did. But there is no mistake when you drop one, or two, or four, and it sounds great.


    Most gamers will play this game with a gamepad. I tried it with a gamepad the first day I got it and was not impressed. It was hard to control the plane, and situational awareness is terrible, even if you click the right stick down to enter free look mode. From what others have told me they can live with the gamepad but they had to go into the sensitivity settings and drop it way down.

    I picked up a Saitek AV8R-02 just for this game. Itís not wireless but it works well. There is a little too much dead space in the center of the axes but Iím learning to live with it. It also took a while to figure out what buttons did what. The game manual gives you these nice Xbox 360 charts, three of them for arcade, realistic, and simulator modes, to show the gamepad controls but I guess they couldnít give us one page for only two flight sticks that work with the Xbox 360, the AV8R-02 and the EDGE HOTAS.

    That said, I love the AV8R-02 stick and it just works and feels so much better then a gamepad, especially in simulator mode where you have to trim your aircraft, and use more advance flying styles.


    Gameplay was a mixed bag at first. Now I wasnít expecting the exact same level of simulation as the PC counterpart. I donít see that happening anytime soon. But I was expecting it to be more simulation then it is. It has arcade mode which gives you an easy flight model, more damage for you and less for the enemy. It also gives you unlimited fuel, ammo, and re-doís. Arcade mode also gives you a radar with friend and foe highlighted, along with target information. It gives you labels, and gives you arrows on where the enemy or mission is. This is great fun no doubt, but the screen is overly cluttered, and the missions are just way too easy. The included campaign is designed for this type of play, and donít really work well in higher levels of difficulty.

    Then thereís realistic mode, which is a step above arcade. You still have the labels and markers, unlimited fuel and ammo, but the planeís flight model is truer and you donít have the auto lead gun sight.

    Then thereís simulator mode. I thought simulator mode was the one for me but I canít even pass the required tutorial to use it. It gives you a truer flight model, takes away all your helpers, but still gives you a huge number of weapons and fuel. Why? Because you need all of them to complete the type of missions the campaign gives out. So simulator mode is not exactly what we simulation gamers had hoped for. The problem with simulator mode is not the flying or fighting for me, itís the situational awareness and the inability to find your targets.

    Youíre not alone in this game, most of the time you are squadron leader of a flight of 4. You use the D pad to give basic orders to your squadron like rejoin, cover me, attack, attack objective. It is simple but works well.

    The Tutorial:

    You have 9 tutorial missions that are well done with voice over and HUD instructions. Only the first 3 missions are required before you can play the game.

    Introduction to Flight
    Advanced Controls
    Aerial Combat
    Then you have 6 more optional training missions.
    Leading a Flight
    Aerial Combat II
    Realistic Mode
    Simulator Mode

    You have to do each of these in order to unlock the next. They are all very well done. So before you ever start playing in realistic mode or simulator mode, you have to do ALL the training tutorials.

    The Campaign:

    Like I mentioned earlier, it is clear that the campaign was made for arcade mode. You also have to play the campaign to unlock goodies like more missions, planes, pilots, history lessons, and tactical lessons. I personally am not a fan of unlocking things in games, but that is the way of the console. And in Birds of Prey you do unlock some interesting stuff. Not just game related but history lessons, pilot stories etc.

    The campaign, thou made for arcade mode is a lot of fun and has a ton of action. Each chapter starts with a WW2 video introduction, then a mission brief. You then accomplish your assigned task, and get more tasks. After completing the task youíre 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 6 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)

    The Missions:

    Like I said earlier, missions are unlocked when you do the campaign. Not just the missions in the campaign but extra ones. The missions are actually a lot better and more suited for realistic and simulator modes. Their 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.


    Now I donít know why itís called training. Training is the tutorials mentioned above. But according to Birds of Prey training mode is a quick mission editor. You can select anything and everything. Pick your plane, your enemy, air cover, air support, location, time of day, weather, and of course fuel and ammo on unlimited or limited. This is the mode most of the players I know will be hitting the most. It lets you set up the mission the way you think it should be set up. And in arcade mode, realistic, and simulator mode.


    First the bad news, there is no cooperative play available in Birds of Prey, and thatís too bad because I think the campaign, and the single missions would of supported 4 player co-op without issues, but thatís 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. But you canít force certain things like cockpit view only. So 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 4 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 thereís 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 enemyís ground units while defending their own.
    Capture Airfields is where two teams try and capture and hold as many airfields as possible, while keep the enemy off of any friendly controlled airfields.


    Overall, in my opinion, IL2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey is a damn good WW2 flight game. The best flight simulation to date for the Xbox 360 console system. Sure itís not as much of a simulator as say the PC counterpart, but it gets as close as it could.

    Graphics and sounds are incredible, minus the overdone bloom. 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 get past the campaign and unlock all the extra planes, articles, and missions the simulation of the game starts to shine. The extra missions and the ďtrainingĒ, what I call the quick mission editor, are fantastic and made more realistic and more for the hardcore simulation fan.

    Some planes are missing cockpit views, but the main planes are well modeled and displayed.

    Bottom line, this is the best flying game ever for the Xbox 360 console system. And at a reduced price of 50 bucks compared to the usual 60 bucks, this game is highly recommended for any flight sim fan.

    Reviewer Specs:

    Xbox 360 with a 50 inch HD TV, 700 Watt 5.1 Surround Sound.
    Magnum |TG-18th|

    We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.

  • #2
    Re: My Birds of Prey review/opinion...

    sorry... not an SM anymore so can't post in the review forum, but this is for us 360 gamers anyway. ;)
    Magnum |TG-18th|

    We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.


    • #3
      Re: My Birds of Prey review/opinion...

      Very cool. Not an xbox owner and probably won't get this game till school is out for the break. But thanks for the review.




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