Vintage computing, old video games

Finished Birds of Steel (PS3)

Genre: WWII Pacific Aerial combat simulator.

I picked up this game after watching Dunkirk looking to get more immersion in that same context with the historical planes, and sense of action and urgency. Although I hate flying in real life I love flight simulators. This game feels a lot more realistic in its controlling of the planes than the other ones I’ve played. It turns out, the dogfighting strategies which work in Star Fox are not realistic.

Having positive memories of the predecessor of this game, IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, I picked this one up and it holds up pretty well despite being last-gen. The graphics for the water and details on the planes themselves are good.

Each part in the campaign has an explanation of the context of the battle, narrated by Stephen Fry. Good for them, they got someone high-profile to narrate. Unfortunately, the scene descriptions are written horribly. Everything is so tedious and roundabout. Who writes a paragraph and starts 2 or 3 sentences in a row with “However”?

And there is one really persistent visual gripe I have with this and at least 1 other modern flight sim (Eagle’s Flight). The dark edges. A vignette filter. You see it, right? This is as cheap a trick as jacking up the contrast. Why would anyone invest in a large TV, when the outer edges of it are useless?

I had positive impressions of how many planes were included, different types of environments, and sound. They capture sound clips of both Allied and Japanese pilots. For voice, I was suspecting they would get non-Japanese actors to impersonate Japanese people for the voice-over. But, nope. Japanese voice actors play Japanese pilots.

It’s surprisingly hard to find good flight simulators for console. Most high-budget, non-indie flight simulators made now are not marketed in the mainstream, but to a very specific audience- a very hardcore audience who typically have a pilot’s license IRL and some extremely fancy actual cockpit-like setup. Microsoft Flight Simulator still has a lot of loyal fans in this category.

Controls were a good compromise between video game-y and airplane-y. Knowing their target demographic, Birds of Steel has a control mode for simulator fans. I am glad it also has an arcade-style control mode. I am a video game player without a pilot’s license. The arcade style mode still felt airplane-y because you can’t just move the analog stick in the direction you want to go. You adjust the roll and rudder separately. It was fun and easy enough to get the hang of.

Since the game came out 6 years ago the online scene is no longer a thing but it was worthwhile going through the campaign of it. The main highlights were Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal.

June 27th, 2018 at 11:25 pm