Here is another simulator game that can trace its lineage to the famous IL-2 series. Gaijin studios who developed IL-2: Birds of Prey for consoles have entered the hardcore PC market with Wings of Prey. With Wings Of Prey they promise a new graphics engine, better game play and many new aircraft, amongst other things.
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Wings of Prey offers different levels of difficulty – from arcade-style to simulator so that everyone can play it. Although the game can be played using the keyboard, I highly recommend you get a joystick or some other controller (not sure whether an Xbox controller is compatible with the game) since it will be easier to play (anyone who has tried landing an airplane in Flight Simulator ’98 using keyboard knows what I’m talking about).
The main menu offers several single player modes: tutorial, campaign, single missions and training. They are pretty self-explanatory – the tutorial section is a very good place for every beginner to start from. The first tutorial starts with you at the controls of a Spitfire Mk II fighter and teaches you the basics of flying – turning, climbing, descending and landing. As you progress, the tutorials get more challenging with the last ones teaching you the basics of air to air and air to ground combat (the fun stuff).
[singlepic id=93 w=320 h=240 float=center]The campaign mode offers you six theatres of war to engage in. They follow historical order – starting with The Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, Sicily, the Ardennes offensive and finally Berlin. Each campaign starts with a documentary video. Campaigns consist of several missions which you have to play in historical order. To progress to the next campaign you have to complete all missions from the previous one.
The most interesting part of the single player is the Training mode. Here you can set up instant action missions. You can choose your airplane, part of Europe where the battle takes place, number of computer enemies and weather.
[singlepic id=105 w=320 h=240 float=centerI found this mode the best if you don’t have time to go through the campaigns or the long single player missions.
At first I didn’t expect to get high frame rates since I was testing Wings of Prey on a laptop (a good one, but a laptop nevertheless) and chose medium graphics settings. Even at those settings, I have to say the visuals are very impressive. The ground, water and sky look very realistic. The details modeled on the ground are simply stunning – the green fields, roads and trees almost make you feel you are flying in the real world. When flying low over the trees I noticed that their branches swing in the wind. I can only imagine what this game will look and feel like at max level of detail. But enough about the scenery, let’s now look at what airplanes the player can get his (her) hands on.
Wings of Prey offers a wide variety of airplanes to choose from. Basically, you get to fly the most famous Russian, British, American and German airplanes of WW2 – from the old Russian I-153 biplane to the Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and the P-51 Mustang. You can even fly the German WW2 rocket plane Me-163 ‘Komet’ which can go up to 600 km/h (considered fast those days). For those of you who are fans of flying heavy metal you can also fly bombers like the Junkers Ju-88, Heinkel He-111, Vickers Wellington and the B-17 Flying Fortress and hone your area bombing skills.
When it comes to game realism I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. If you are (like me) one of those hardcore simulator fans [singlepic id=99 w=320 h=240 float=center]and choose the realistic mode, then you have to follow all the procedures like the real WW2 pilots did. If you leave your engine too long operating at maximum RPM, then don’t wonder why after a while your speed gradually starts to drop and then your engine quits. If, during combat your speed gets too low and you keep pulling back on the stick to reach the bad guy don’t be surprised if suddenly the airplane enters a flat spin and starts going down uncontrollably. By the way, when the airplane goes into a spin, the ground around you blurs because of the motion – a pleasant camera effect that adds an almost movie-like dimension to the game.
The damage model in the sim is also realistic. When playing against a computer He-111 bomber, I damaged one of its engines and black smoke started to come out of it. When moving in for the kill I flew in the black smoke and my canopy suddenly became black. Later I realised that this was because of the leaking oil from the bomber’s engine.
For those of you who would rather fight against human opponents the game offers several multiplayer modes – from simple cooperative mission with two players on VoIP to large multiplayer lobbies and missions. You get access to the latter once you register your game online.
Well, that’s all the time I had to review. Overall, I am very impressed with Wings of Prey. If you are interested in airplanes, the game can offer you hours of fun as it takes you back in time and teaches you some of the tricks that the realpilots of those days used. It also offers you the opportunity to take part in the major air battles of WW2 – all from the safety of your own home.
[written by Nikolay Stoychev]
Sudogamer score: 8 out of 10