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Why am I not building a model???
A review of IL 2 Sturmovik WWII Combat Flight Simulator
by Mark A Dice

 

Some of us are able to build models like we're a little version of General Motors and others are only able to crank out a completed model like we're giving birth to it, nine months of slow painstaking effort capped by the painful and joyous moment of completion, to be followed by years of worrying over and taking care of our creations…. I'm somewhere in the middle. I love to build models but I often find myself distracted by other things and most recently, that distraction has been a computer game.

IL 2 Sturmovik is a WWII flight simulator game, made by UBI Soft (www.ubisoft.com) that has been out on the store shelves for a few weeks that in my opinion sets a new standard for flight sim games!! Cost is in the mid $40 range, normal for a new game. The graphics and detail are the best I've seen yet and very realistic!

IL 2 is set during WWII on the Russian front. There are 31 types of Russian, German, and American in Russian service (remember the Lend Lease program??) aircraft that you can fly and another 40 types of aircraft that can be engaged in large-scale battles. The aircraft are realistically modeled and marked with camouflage schemes and squadron markings changing from summer to winter. The majority of the aircraft you'll fly are Russian, with only two major types; the Bf-109 (5 versions) & FW-190 (1 version with another downloadable from the website) of German aircraft. The list of Russian aircraft include the IL 2 (10 versions), LAGG 3 (3 versions), LA-5FN, MIG 3 (3 versions), P-39 (3 versions), YAK 1, YAK 3, YAK 7B, and YAK 9 (3 versions). This brings up my only complaint with the game. I would've also liked the chance to fly the JU-87 series of aircraft too. Hopefully, this will be offered as an add-on in the near future.

Many other types of aircraft of both sides are included for combat with and against that cover the range of aircraft flown in that theater during the years between 1941-1945.
You can fly air-to-air and air-to-ground missions with a large and varied list of targets to destroy. The ground elements are realistically modeled & marked and they fight back hard too… Most historical buffs will enjoy the attention to all the little details they'll find in this game. I particularly enjoy the fact that the radio transmissions are all in the native languages. You fly with the Germans… they speak German. The English text is provided on screen for those of us who are not Russian or German. Another neat detail is when you're flying over the battlefield's frontline, you can look down and see the tracer fire going back and forth between the combatants on the ground but don't fly too close or some of that fire will come your way and you may not even make it to your intended target…

You can fly a single mission or a campaign, which is several single missions strung together over a period of the war where each mission counts toward your experience, rewards, promotions in rank, as well as the outcome of the war.

There are also quick missions, where you can jump right into a cockpit in the middle of a big dogfight or ground attack mission. Then there's the custom mission builder (where you decide who attacks what, where, and when) and you can string these together to make your own campaigns. All of these missions can be saved as recorded tracks to play back later, share with others, to watch your heroics or find out what you did wrong to end up a smoking hole in the ground.

The training missions are the best that I've encountered, so far and a lot of help to those of us who aren't the best aviators!! They cover the basics of flying, landing, taking off, and basic combat, first as a demonstration, and then you take over to try your hand at it.
You have a large amount of control over the game and can change game and control inputs to suit your needs and your computers capability. There are no thick manuals to read. Just a small but informative book (88 pages with everything from installation to troubleshooting) and a fold out reference card for your control keys. Online/multiplayer play is supported and the website offers many features to go along with and enhance these features.

System requirements:
Minimum:
400 MHz or better with 128 MB RAM
Pentium II
3D accelerator with 16 MB RAM

Recommended:
600 MHz or better with 256 MB RAM
Pentium III
32 Bit 3D accelerator with 32 MB RAM

Best:
800 MHz or better with 256 MB RAM
GeForce 2 3D accelerator or better

I have a 750 MHz AMD Athlon processor with 384 MB RAM and the game runs just fine. The game comes with Direct X8 and that's what I'm using to run the 3D part of the game… I think. I'll have to admit, I'm no computer wiz here!!!

All in all I'm really enjoying this game and it's really getting my interest up in aircraft that flew during this period…. Hmmmm, now where did I put that Hobbycraft La-7??? And didn't I see an Accurate Miniatures Sturmovik on Plane Trading @ Hyperscale?? Didn't that Hs-129 that I got at the Christmas party have markings for a Russian front aircraft?? Well, gotta go crack open some kits and start building. See you at the next meeting…