It’s the shit, am I right folks? Honestly, what’s not to love? The speed. The freedom. The scope.
There’s just one problem... Though I REALLY want to like flight simulators, I just don’t.
I reckon the bulk of gamers might echo these sentiments too. And for this reason alone, many gamers won’t enjoy Birds of Steel
. I didn’t, not really.
But as a flight sim, it’s actually rather spiffing!
In Birds of Steel, Planes fly less good without both wings.
Firstly, it tastes authentic. BOS bookends campaigns with lengthy historical exposition by old silver-tongue himself, Stephen Fry. The combination of documentary footage and rapid fire factoids set the scene for the upcoming missions.
Similarly, comprehensive controls enhance this realism, demanding pilots adapt to their planes innumerable facets. Even the most simplified scheme will take a good hour to master fully. It may not quite be rocket science, but aviation is a tricky business, with landing gear to stow, rudders to align and flaps to, well, flap.
Missions vary in objective and scale from titanic bombing raids to intimate dogfights. Elsewhere fringe details such as weather conditions, craft ware and tear, particle effects, cockpit dials and beepers mean hopping from plane to plane (a novel approach to the lives/continue system) seldom breaks the illusion.
Forget Call of Duty
. Birds of Steel
is THE authentic WWII gaming experience.
Yet, alike all birds of prey
, from the lowly vulture to the majestic peregrine falcon, Birds of Steel
sports the occasional ruffled feather.
Presentation lacks a certain polish. Not an uncommon issue, given the genre’s expansive level design, yet the bulk of your time within the confines of your cockpit is spent looking out into smears of blue, grey, black and green haze.
Hardly the most vibrant of pallets!
Shoot the slightly greyer blobs to win!
The absence of a U.K. based campaign perplexes as this theatre seems ripe for exploration. Surely the Battle of Brittan provides enough military fodder for a level or six?
Finally, Birds of Steel
DEMANDS a high level of investment from players while offering minimal payoff. For most games, you become an unstoppable point scoring machine inside of three minutes. Yet here, even with a slow moving bomber directly in my sights, my main cannons pumping out dozens of searing rounds a second, it took me the guts of two hours to get to grips with dog-fighting.
And don’t get me started with online play. It was a massacre.
Despite this, Birds of Steel
offers a wealth of content, 100+ planes, dozens of missions, 20 historical recreations, expansive online, dual campaigns, all handled with the faithful diligence you’d come to expect from WWII aficionados.
Befitting its subject matter, Birds of Steel
is a heroic effort to popularize the Flight Simulator as a console genre. Gallant effort aside, though a resounding victory for its own niche audience, it fails to entice the unconverted.
You ask me, consoles need a quality Space Opera. The cold vacuum of space is the perfect excuse for accessible arcade controls, familiar FPS layout, colourful particle beams, dizzying torpedo flights and a sweeping, engaging narrative.
You can bet your ass Lando
never had to worry about wind-speed, choking afterburners or aligning rudders while wasting Tie Fighters during the Battle of Endor!