IL-2 Sturmovik: The Forgotten Battles Review (PC)

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One thing that people always want when they play a game, is a sequel. The chance to expand upon a previously successful system, to relive old battles, with more and better, is something always popular with gamers. Forgotten Battles is such a game, expanding on the very popular Sturmovik game, and adding more to it, and changing a little as well, but not enough to ruin the gaming experience.

You will find all the familiar aircraft from the first instalment in this game, as well as many new planes to use in battle. You will also take to the skies in the warbirds of some of the Axis minors, to get a taste of the exotic and different, as well as the familiar. Aircraft from Finland, and Hungary included, as well as lend-lease western fighters. There are also American planes available to fly, as well as the famous ME 262 Swallow, the world's first operational jet fighter.

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The campaign game has been completely reworked, and is totally different now. There are 20 all new single seat missions, as as new multi-player scenarios. The attack plane missions include new areas of interest, like attacking naval vessels, as well as varied terrain, battles over the Mannerhiem Line in Finland, to defending the airspace over Hungary from marauding Americans. You will even have to defend fixed targets from bombers, a difficult task, but fun all the same.The campaign lets you fly as a German, Soviet, Hungarian, or Finn, and you can choose time of year, starting date, and aircraft type. With so many mission careers open, you get some nice choices here.

The game provides an easy to use scenario editor, if you tire of the provided missions. You can pick your plane, your enemy, the abilities of the AI, the mission type, just about everything. The only problem is, the game board is limited in this mode to the original game's default maps, so it isn't as varied as it could be. Still, you can have an historical, or ahistorical fight with little difficulty.

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Not everything in the game is perfect, however. There are some really long load times, and the missions can be quite tedious, as it can take 20 minutes or more to engage an enemy, but you can time compress, so this does help some. The pilots on your side aern't the cream of the crop, the AI doesn't watch your tail well, and the bombardiers all seem to have failed bombing school, as they will often drop bombs miles from a target area. The game does keep track of your combat record, and provides logs of missions, but this isn't well done, they could have added a big role playing chunk here, and didn't, a missed opportunity.

The online multi-player mode is a real strength of this system, playing against and with other people is much more rewarding than playing the AI. The varied terrain, and unpredictability of human pilots adds a lot to this game, and makes it a true flight simulator, as you can never know what the enemy, or your friends, will do at any given moment.

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As I mentioned earlier, the amount of differing aircraft types in this game is amazing. The different marks of each German fighter, and optional armament is portrayed, as well as the numerous Soviet fighters, like the Lagg and Yak series. There are also options to improve your plane, increase engine power, weapons, ammo, change flight characteristics, all kinds of things. Flying each type of plane requires a different touch to each warbird, and its half the fun of the game.

As in the original game, the planes themselves look fantastic, each type is accurately portrayed, from high tech single seaters to lumbering bi planes. The planes look good as they maneuver and fire, and the terrain skins can be striking in the game. The sound quality of this game is also quite good, the planes look and sound quite realistic.

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Overall, this is a worthy follow up to an outstanding game system. By providing all the types missing from the first game, players can now fly just about any plane that flew in the 'Great patriotic war,' and get a real feel for that era in the skies. Legions of pilots should run out and pick this little gem up.