I've been saying this for quite some time now, but I genuinely feel that there aren't enough aerial combat games out there. We have Ace Combat, and then we have Ubisoft's upcoming Tom Clancy HAWX. There's Ubisoft's World War II air fighter, Blazing Angels, but we'll just pretend that series doesn't exist. On the other hand, fans of aerial combat should all pay close attention to the newest IL-2 Sturmovik game, Bird of Prey. The first IL-2 debuted on the PC seven years ago, and was reviewed exceptionally well.
So here is the newest entry in this World War II aerial franchise, and it's looking beautiful, so far. Birds of Prey is set to replicate the large-scale aerial assaults and ground military operations of WWII, where the player gets to replicate some of the most infamous battles during the war. This should make progression purely mission based, as opposed to open-ended.
You'll partake in five different theaters of war, piloting battle planes, fighter planes, and bomber planes. The theaters include The Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, Berlin, Sicily, and Korsun, all of which account for the primary aerial battles of the war in Europe. In total, you'll engage in just over 50 different missions, so the game aims to boast solid value.
To immerse you into the experience, missions will often be jam packed with other fighters all around you, hundreds and hundreds of them, some of which are friendlies, others that aren't. Each mission will utilize specific planes, as well, aiming for the utmost in historical accuracy.
What I find to be very impressive is the inclusion of a damage engine that renders precise real-time damage onto an aircraft. And by real-time damage we mean seeing actual bullet holes in wings or trail lines on the side of the aircraft. Birds of Prey also aims to offer proper landscape detail, something is consistently lacking in other aerial titles. Developer Gaijin will allow gamers to see ground support troops below the aerial action, demonstrating that the surface isn't just a barren texture with no purpose.
To challenge you during your campaign will be a realistic simulation mode for more experienced gamers. We're curious to find out just how realistic the sim mode is, as opposed to the game's beginner arcade difficulty. Multiplayer will boast a number of online gameplay modes, in addition to customization options that'll allow you to customize your color scheme, and install specific weapons on your plane.
The screenshots are showing a lot of promise, as Bird of Prey is shaping up to be quite a looker. There'll also be a soundtrack composed by Jeremy Soule, a man who has been responsible for a number of really great soundtracks.
Publisher 1C has yet to announce a release date, but tentative reports point to 2009. Keep your eyes on this one, folks.