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Il 2 Sturmovik

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Maddox Games
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

It's no Microsoft Flight Simulator, but I don't think anyone will be complaining. Il 2 Sturmovik's graphics meet, if not exceed, the competitions' level of quality. As is the case with most flight sims, the closer to the ground you get, the poorer the graphics. But from the sky, a beautiful Russian landscape is presented to you with stunning quality. Your plane and others might look a bit grainy, though it's not enough to seriously take away from the action. The damage system for the aircraft might not be all that detailed, but whilst getting shot at, you'll only be taking quick, nervous glances at the holes in your wings, while you frantically look around your cockpit for the enemy.

Few will appreciate the vintage WWII eastern European music, but it does fit the scene nicely. Because the music never plays during the action, it won't hurt those that hate it, and it should please the WWII buffs out there, creating an equal experience for both worlds. Superior to the music in both quality and quantity are the sound effects. From the 'kick start' of the engine to the whistle of bombs falling on their hapless victims below, few sounds will upset even the most keen eared gamer out there.


Gameplay:

Il 2 Sturmovik doesn't break any boundaries, but it does deliver a solid experience in its genre. As a WWII flight sim, you'll get the usual Campaign mode, along with Single Missions, a custom mission builder, and a Multiplayer option. The two main sides are Germany and Russia, and both bring their machines of war to the table. The amount of planes offered may not be as wide as other games of this genre, but the few you fly will be memorable.

The Campaign allows you the opportunity of flying for either Germany or Russia, and offers enough missions of varying types that will satisfy most people. And being a sim, you take control of the aircraft from take off to touch down, whether it's on the runway, or in a smoldering crater. Autopilot is offered, and coupled with a time elapse option, flying those long distances to your targets won't seem so bad, though for the serious sim buff, flying around in this game should be pure vanilla. The Single Missions are just like the Campaign, except for the fact that they have no bearing on your pilot's record, and you can fly any of them in any order.

For those who want a truly unique experience, the mission builder packed with the game is more than adequate to create almost any combat flight experience you can think of. The downside to this is that it's going to take a while to learn how to use it. Not exactly user friendly, the builder is populated with cryptic menus and commands, leading to a long and tedious custom job.

Multiplayer offers two modes of play: Dogfight and Cooperative. Dogfight is pretty self explanatory, being your basic deathmatch in the sky. Cooperative mode puts every live player on one side to complete a certain mission against the computer. Not too much to sink your teeth into, just something nice to snack on every once in a while.


Difficulty:

Along with an instruction book, Il 2 Sturmovik's options allow for a wide degree of difficulty. Ammo, fuel, and flight physics can all be toned up or down, depending on the player's preference. Though the options are very flexible, it should also be noted that this is a flight sim, and anyone new to the genre might find it a little difficult to break into using this game. The only tutorial provided is in the manual, and written instructions pale in comparison to what an automated tutorial can teach.

Game Mechanics:

Needless to say, trying to play this game without a joystick is one of those video game no-nos. Half the fun comes from slamming the stick hard left and half a second later, hard right, all the while leaning in your chair. Not to say that it can't be played without a joystick, it's just not the same experience.

The physics are about as real as you can get these days in a recreational flight sim. All the aspects of WWII flying are included in this game, right down to the G-forces that hold you in your seat while you're trying to bail out. There are plenty of views to choose from, and are easily accessible with the hat button on the joystick. Sans stick, though, and you'll have to rely on the keyboard. Each of the planes look and react very differently, and you'll quickly be able to tell each apart just from the inside of the cockpit.

For those who like to bet on the underdog, you're luck just paid off. Though it may not be backed by a software industry powerhouse, Il 2Sturmovik still manages to contend. Newcomers to the genre might want to be wary, but if you've got a joystick and a love for flying, you absolutely can't go wrong with this game.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 95/98/ME, 400MHz Processor, 128 MB RAM, 16 MB Video Card, DirectX 8 compatible Sound Card, Internet Connection for Multiplayer
 

Test System:



Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows Hunting Unlimited Windows Iron Storm

 
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