Plot: What’s it about?
IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey hasn’t gotten a lot of spotlight since it was released, thanks to in part to several big ticket titles that launched around the same period. But don’t let the lower profile fool you, Birds of Prey is an excellent video game and the best flight themed titles on the X-Box 360. The franchise has been around for years on the PC, so the team has great experience and it shows through and through. The core flight mechanics are flawless, period. Birds of Prey is harder than most games of this type, but once you catch on, you’ll appreciate the approach taken. Once you’ve mastered Arcade mode, step into the Simulation realm and feel the burn. This allows both casual players and seasoned IL-2 Sturmovik veterans to enjoy the game, with ample reasons to sample each mode. Ok, so we know the flight and combat mechanics are fine tuned to a shiny polish, but how about the presentation and other elements?
Simply put, Birds of Prey is one of the best looking games on the 360. The skies look beautiful, the detail on the ground is impressive, and the plane models are tremendous. As cool as the planes look when in prime condition, the realistic damage they take is even more eye popping. The development team went to great lengths to provide an accurate presentation also, so from the cockpits to the landscape below, it is all on the mark. The single player campaign is a lot of fun and has some memorable set pieces, but doesn’t have much variety. That is not a big complaint however, as the campaign never becomes dull or repetitive, I’d just love to see what else is possible. The on-line multi-player is fun also, with several game modes, but I stuck with traditional dogfight mode for the most part. If you’re new to the series, you’ll need to log some time with Birds of Prey to get the hang of things, but it is well worth the investment. IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey is a wonderful game that makes you feel like you’re battling it out in the clouds, so it earns a high recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
As I said above, this game looks incredible. The attention to detail puts similar games like Tom Clancy’s HAWX to shame. You might not always have the time to appreciate the visuals, but if you can, you’ll be glad you did. The detail on the ground is excellent, but I was most impressed with the planes themselves. The depth of detail is awesome, not to mention how accurate down to the minute elements the presentation is. Even the damage taken by the planes is remarkable, just superb work here. This is hands down one of the 360’s best looking releases.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio might not be as impressive as the visuals, but the sounds of aerial combat are lively here. The bullets zing through the skies and the explosions are rock solid. All we can ask is that the gunshot dings and fiery crashes sound good and without a doubt, they do sound good. The music is well handled also, so no worries there. In short, a more than capable audio presentation, even if it doesn’t blow the doors off.
Supplements: What are the extras?