Review: Birds of Steel
Birds of Steel is a WWII flight simulator that aims to bring the biggest air battles in history into as stunning and realistic a game as possible. And just how successful it is at creating the dogfights of old for current technology, well we'll just have to see.
- Worth The Time?If you enjoy a good flight simulated romp then definitely.
- Things LovedSimplicity of the control scheme that allows for some surprisingly realistic simulated air combat; the visuals of the planes and audio tracks that frequent every nook and cranny of this game; the large array of game modes, aircraft and all the attention put into the game.
- Things HatedThe game can get tedious at the slower moments; it can frustrate you at particular times.
- RecommendationIt's not perfect and it's presentation feels somewhat lacking, but for the price and amount of content shoved into Birds of Steel I'm quite impressed to say the least.
- Name: Birds of Steel
- Genre: Flight Simulator
- Players: 1 - 16
- Multiplayer: Cooperative (2 - 4), Competitive Online (2 - 16)
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
- Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
- Publisher: Konami
- Price: R345
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
With last year’s Ace Combat review, a Top Gun: Hard Lock review in the foreseeable future and today’s Birds of Steel review, well I’ve sort of become eGamer’s official flight game reviewer. I don’t exactly remember climbing into the proverbial cockpit and signing onto all these reviews, but I don’t mind; flight games seem to be reliably decent and even good with the case of Birds of Steel. Birds of Steel, unlike the flight games I’m accustomed to, which are usually modern arcade fighters, is a WWII flight combat simulator. More than that though, it’s chocked full of content and from the opening menu screen you know you’re dealing with a game taking itself quite seriously. The WWII appropriate soundtrack immediately soars from my speakers (pun intended) and was really quite good; it made sure I was in the mood to swap lead with any and all opposition who crossed my Spitfire’s crosshairs.
Of course, and with my experience of flight games, I know that more than anything, an overly complex control scheme or bad controls instantly destroys any appeal or enjoyment. It’s never fun when you fly into the ocean, which is easier than you might think, or crash while coming into land, only to have to start the whole mission over again. In this regard however, Birds of Steel is an easy game to learn and difficult to master, the way it should be. And if you’re having second thoughts about the realism the game proclaims, you can always set the difficulty of control to simplified and it becomes very tolerable, even with little to no experience. Knowing that no controls will ever be perfect however, and because WWII planes didn’t exactly break the sound barrier, or get anywhere exceptionally fast, Birds of Steel has appropriately placed checkpoints throughout its many missions. And boy does it have a lot of missions and modes to enjoy. From historical campaigns that give you the relevant historical context and plenty of archived footage to entertain and enlighten you; to something like 100 other procedural missions; a mission editor; a dynamic campaign mode and many multiplayer modes.
Dynamic campaign allows you to relive many of the greatest historical battles of the era and gives you a chance to change things for the better or worse. You can not only pick the side you fly for but choose the missions you partake in and all your efforts, whether you succeed or fail in a particular mission, changes the results of the battle. It’s not exactly world changing but it’s a nice concept that is executed well and I enjoyed it. Multiplayer modes are just as varied and start with simple cooperative missions where you and your friends fly as a single squadron to opposing team versus modes. The versus mode offers a few variations on capture orientated missions and comes down to holding areas and watching your opponents points drop quicker than yours. There are also tournaments and special events that allow you to enjoy limited offer missions and awards should you take part and win. All you need to enter is an online connection, the appropriate rank and plane and you’re good to go.
The multiplayer modes can be more fun than the large scale battles the single-player mode offers and dogfighting another player, relying only on ability thanks to the lack of guided missiles, is quite satisfying when you wipe them from the sky. Experience is achieved by doing all sorts of acts throughout the single-player and multiplayer missions and rewards you with higher ranks and the superior planes that accompany those higher ranks. It actually works surprisingly well and has, on more than one occasion, inspired me to re-attempt a mission in order to get the experience needed to afford and try out all the new planes available.
Speaking of which, each plane is quite well detailed and although the large areas you fly through could use the extra pixel or two; it’s a better looking game than almost any other flight simulator and I never had a single performance hiccup. The only thing better than the look of the planes is flying into a massive aerial battle with smoke, explosions, AA fire, planes diving and destroying each other around you and you trying to nail that one who got away; Birds of Steel does that and does it fairly well. All-in-all, Birds of Steel is a good game and an even better flight combat simulator. I had my doubts about it when I got it delivered to me one early Friday morning, mid-Mass Effect 3 I might add, but I was wrong. It’s far from the perfect flight simulator and still maintains that proud flight simulator tradition of the occasional tedious minute where there’s nothing to do but fly toward a checkpoint. Other than that however, it’s worth looking into.