Birds of Steel


By: Luke Percy    On: PlayStation 3
Published: Friday 13 Apr 2012 5:19 PM
 
 
 
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Another problem can be found in the gunner controls available to the bombers. The controls for flight are inverted, and this carries through to the gunner controls. So when wanting to shoot up you have to pull the stick down, and there is no separate option for inversion on the gunner. Now, I love inverted controls for flight control, but for aiming a gunner I would have liked the option to change this separately rather than sacrificing my flight controls.

Birds of Steel supports flight sticks, which can be mapped in the controls menus. While the PS3 and Xbox do not have any first party sticks worthy of the flight sim experience, there are a few third party models available. I highly recommend finding one if you wish to get the best experience from Birds of Steel.

The campaign takes place through various points in wartime history, starting at the battle of Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, and the battle of Wake Island, and you play the perspective of both the US and Japanese sides. Through the campaign, you will pilot various planes specific to the mission in front of you. These range from bombing or torpedo runs on both naval and land targets, to escorting missions to protect bombers, and also some straight up dog fights.

Some missions will have you in a squad, and if you have limited fuel and ammo set you will need to return to the aircraft carrier or air field - and successfully land - to refuel and rearm. Or you can use the select menu to switch to another plane in your squad. However, unfortunately the plane you switched out of will just return to formation and cover your approach rather than returning to rearm. I found this frustrating in most missions, as you would have to land each plane if you wanted to get geared up again for the mission - landing in Birds of Steel is as hard as it is in real life - so the AI deciding to return would have been welcomed.

Speaking of the AI, it's pretty standard as far as combat sims go. AI planes would perform various simple maneuvers to avoid your gunner's fire, or to get you off their tail, but no advanced roll tactics or intentional stalling - such as a hammerhead stall turn - to get the upper hand.

The campaign lets you save a replay of each mission, allowing you to watch your flying prowess later, but I couldn’t see an option to share these clips with others. Perhaps I just missed it, but again, this would have been a nice addition.

Birds of Steel also offers several multiplayer components, including an online profile which is constantly updating as you progress through the game. Experience earned by playing the campaign then goes towards unlocking more planes for multiplayer, in either Versus or Tournament mode. The game also supports multiple players playing simultaneously in co-op missions, which is a nice inclusion. Multiplayer is where Birds of Steel really shines, and both Konami and Gaijin really have reinforced this with seasonal events.

Seasonal events in Birds of Steel are where, on various days like Christmas and other holidays, Konami will hold special tournaments or double XP days - for example. This should really help boost the community when online starts to die down a little.

Audio is also really good; I have a pretty decent 5.1 set up, and you can hear the bullets flying past, flak from battleships exploding, and even turbulence and weather effects, making for a more realistic and intense flight. Flying through rough cloud as the wind, rain, and thunder rattle outside really puts you in the mood to get the heck out of there as your plane starts to shake. It even sounds different in each of the camera views, although it's at its best in cockpit view of course.

So what are the visuals like? Very good, actually. Like most flight sims, the detail in the planes themselves is really impressive, but Birds of Steel goes a step further. The terrain - both the land and the sea - looks great, as do the weather and cloud effects. Flying through heavy cloud causes dense moisture to build up on the cockpit windows and wings; cloud vapours begin to wash off as you gain speed in a high aerial dive. It's details like these that really immerse you in the experience. Just don’t expect much in terms of buildings and ships, though, as they're quite simple in appearance.

Overall, I think Birds of Steel really proves authentic flight combat simulators can work on consoles. Even if you're a hardcore combat sim fan, I can happily recommend it. For those looking for a more arcade combat experience, you'll need to be prepared to invest a bit more time in the title if you want to get the most out of it.

In both cases, I would still suggest that you invest in a flight stick. While it’s playable on the control pads, you just can’t beat the flexibility a flight stick provides.



The Score

Birds of Steel
"Amazingly rich in historically accurate content"
8.0
Great
Rating: PG   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 45 Min

 

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Comments (9)

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azza12
On Tuesday 17 Apr 2012 5:45 PM Posted by azza12
so you guys have reviewed it but when is it if ever actualley going to be released here?
 
 
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NZGamer_Luke
On Tuesday 17 Apr 2012 5:55 PM Posted by NZGamer_Luke
17 April 2012, 05:45 PM Reply to azza12
so you guys have reviewed it but when is it if ever actualley going to be released here?
It is available now, since March 27th. Have you checked local stores? Perhaps you may need to order it in, I could see some retail stores would hold off because it's not another call of duty in terms of sellers much more nieche.
 
 
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azza12
On Wednesday 18 Apr 2012 4:49 PM Posted by azza12
17 April 2012, 05:55 PM Reply to NZGamer_Luke
It is available now, since March 27th. Have you checked local stores? Perhaps you may need to order it in, I could see some retail stores would hold off because it's not another call of duty in terms of sellers much more nieche.
No it isnt EB games do not even have it listed on there website nor do they have it in there computer system to give me the answer and neither has any of the other major retailers, the only place ive seen it for sale is on fishpond mightyape ect and they say its imported from UK, it hasnt reached nz yet
 
 
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Ron NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
On Wednesday 18 Apr 2012 9:27 PM Posted by Ron
^ So you can buy it from a nz retailer, but it isn't available here? What's your point you've lost me?
 
 
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Chris Redfield NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
On Wednesday 18 Apr 2012 9:57 PM Posted by Chris Redfield
He can't find it in nz nor find any info of when it's gonna get released. So he's asking for that info >_>
 
 
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Ron NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
On Wednesday 18 Apr 2012 11:01 PM Posted by Ron
^ Shall we go 1/2's Redfield and buy it for him?
 
 
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azza12
On Thursday 19 Apr 2012 9:54 AM Posted by azza12
18 April 2012, 11:01 PM Reply to Ron
^ Shall we go 1/2's Redfield and buy it for him?
well in case you hadnt noticed this being a New zealand website they are reviewing the game but i havent found it avalible here in nz so i was asking when it might be released here how this concerns you is well frankly a mystery
 
 
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Jake NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 19 Apr 2012 11:32 AM Posted by Jake
19 April 2012, 09:54 AM Reply to azza12
well in case you hadnt noticed this being a New zealand website they are reviewing the game but i havent found it avalible here in nz so i was asking when it might be released here how this concerns you is well frankly a mystery
Mightyape is a New Zealand store? It's not a title that will bring in big money so I don't see why JB or EB would get it in. Also, Ron works at NZGamer so he is one of the 'guys' you asked in your first comment.
 
 
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gee_force1
On Sunday 22 Apr 2012 7:00 PM Posted by gee_force1
I just picked this up from JB in Hamilton,
just did the tutorial and first mission and its a lot of fun,
Just put up a post in the PS3 thread about some online games
 
 
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