By contrast, Sturmoviks over Manchuria is more down to earth, dealing with the 1945 IL-10 and closing battles over Berlin, then switching you to some nifty Japanese fighter planes during their determined defense of the Pacific and their homeland. Both offer good, solid gameplay, though we think 1946 may be a bit too fanciful for the average grognard.
The developers (led by series creator Oleg Maddox) have bitten off exactly what they could chew here, as every aircraft has been lovingly modeled in precise detail and with a delicate aerodynamic touch that gives each steel bird its own life-like characteristics. The ‘smoking barrels’ setting of WW2 comes alive in each mission, with anti-aircraft guns illuminate the sky like manic blue bottle-rockets while you desperately twist and dive around your opponents, guns blazing and your heart in your hand as you wrestle to keep your steel eagle airborne instead of six feet under. We found it remarkable that despite having only slightly better-than-average graphics, our in-game memories from IL-2 were so vivid and life-like.
Weapon sounds and engine noises were very well mimicked, although we could have done without the carnival-sounding national anthems that looped over most of the main menus. And as is probably obvious, a decent flight stick is a must here. A word of warning to would-be flight aces – tweak your joystick settings to a less-sensitive control curve (you can research this at the official IL-2 Sturmovik forums) or you’ll be your air insurance carrier’s worst nightmare as you become intimately familiar with the concept of gravity, over and over again.