Hey, Good Lookin'
It's rare these days that we come across a title that makes us stop and actually watch, letting the game quench the thirst of our drinking eyes. Flight sims in particular have become rather stagnant in their progression, and it's easy to discard new sims with little regard for the wares they may be touting beneath their unimpressive facades. Not so with IL-2 Sturmovik. This is the most attention-grabbing flight sim we've clapped our eyes on in quite a while, and one that absolutely deserves to be called beautiful. The game features some thirty-one types of Russian, German and American planes dating from 1941 to 1945, each one featuring a different camouflage pattern depending on the time of year and environment. The attention to detail in all aspects of the game is staggering, especially when it comes to the intricate plane models. We wouldn't blame you for switching the autopilot on just to take the time to switch between camera angles and snoop around the lovingly modelled cockpits as your fighter swoops majestically over the landscape. Maddox Games have put a lot of effort into really suspending the player from reality. Dip into the clouds and condensation or rain will build up on your cockpit windows, and as the sun glints on lakes and rivers below and tiny buildings (all of which can be destroyed) dot into view between the clouds, the effect is breathtaking. A great deal of thought has gone into creating an inspiring environment for your battles, and an apparently small touch like the "real" clouds does wonders for altering the way you think about playing.
It's All In The Details
Play itself is surprisingly entertaining. The control system is extremely simple to pick up when you first start, yet it leaves room for expansion of your skills - realism and factual accuracy haven't been sacrificed for the sake of simplicity. IL-2 prides itself on its little touches that make the whole experience that more fulfilling. We could go on for ages about the impressive way the planes break apart as they're littered with machine gun fire, or the way tiny full-modelled troops run for their lives as you swoop down to drop your cargo on their heads. But it doesn't stop there. The game is wide open for expansion and customisation, and to this end Maddox have included a massively detailed mission editor for limitless possibilities, as well as the ability to quickly set up missions via the in-game menus. You can expect the already impressive catalogue of planes to expand beyond the initial collection as well, with add-ons via the internet an assured inevitability. We await the kitchen sink add-on with baited breath. The huge variety of missions offer some exciting prospects for those who savour a healthy dose of action in their sims. A routine mission can be unpredictably interrupted by impressive and occasionally epic dogfights, and the pace is superbly tense as you battle it out against the impressive AI fighters. This isn't limited to offline play, either. The multiplayer code can support up to 32 players in a massive dogfight, and 16 players in co-operative mode. The level of personal customisation and even flight tracking (kind of like demo recording in Quake) means that a healthy community is sure to burgeon surrounding the game. IL-2 Sturmovik is the most technically impressive flight sim we have come across, and at the moment we see no reason why this shouldn't be a landmark game for the genre. A sterling effort by Maddox Games has paid off immensely to produce what promises to be a stunning and groundbreaking game.