IL-2 Cliffs of Dover Current Status Review for PC
Rarely has there been a more anticipated launch of a new flight simulator than this one. It was created by Russian developers 1c: Maddox Games and released by Ubisoft in Russia and the EU in April 2011.
When Oleg Maddox announces a new flight sim, the community tend to listen and listen hard. It was originally expected way way back in 2006 under the title Storm of War:Battle of Britain, but as technologies changed, so the sim evolved into what we have here today.
Throw a stick into the great big muddy pond that is the Internet, and you will find a raging argument, well, raging! Fan-boys, pessimists, fence sitters, everyone has an opinion on this game. In this article, I will try and cut through the rubbish and present the facts.
This PC game is controversial, not due to subject matter, but because it has been released in what many believe to be a completely unfinished state. Allow me to elaborate. Chronic performance issues have been experienced, bugs abound, graphics options were sparse and the game lacked a lot of polish.
Some, but not all of these issues have been addressed in a series of extremely fast quick fire patches, and I feel that I have seen enough of the game to offer a balanced view of what is on offer if one was to buy the game today, rather than on release day.
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So, What's it Really Like?
We are currently 4 patches in (including beta patches) and I have to say, the performance for me personally is on the up and up. So, what are we left with? Firstly, the stars of the game, the planes, are superbly realized. With shadows turned on, the cockpits are absolutely a thing of beauty. External views do not disappoint, lets be frank, they look bloody amazing up close, right down to the last rivet. The rolling hills of the southeast of England look great, albeit in a garish pastel tone kind of a way. The Cliffs of Dover themselves are of course there, and look great, as does Dover.
Flying over London however is a chore, I am reduces to single figure frame rates, despite having an aging but powerful PC. I am sure this will be addressed in future patches, but for now as a native Londoner it's a disappointment. Engine sounds have rightly come under some criticism, but again, these have been addressed to some extent.
Having discussed some of the negatives, lets not forget the stuff this sim does so well. On the right rig, it does look absolutely fantastic. The little details are magnificent, such as ground crew trucks refueling, fire trucks attending problem areas, and the raging ground battles you can fly over. The campaign is currently split 2 ways. A story driven R.A.F section tries to drive a narrative path through the Battle of Britain. I say tries, as it sometimes makes no sense whatsoever in the story. The Luftwaffe campaign will be more familiar to seasoned IL-2 players.
I am no expert on real life flying, but the planes feel "right" to me, and I quickly found myself feeling comfortable behind the controls. This was in no part thanks to the utterly useless and boring tutorial sections. These just felt like a last minute addition to appease the console flyers, and it just didn't work for me.
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It all comes down to trust. Do you trust Ubisoft to do the right thing? So far, by releasing a completely and utterly unfinished game to the public, they have let us down badly. Having said that, patches are coming at the rate of 1 per week so far, and of course the community is already trying to help out where possible.
Also bear in mind that the original IL-2 collection has grown immeasurably thanks to that same community.
Having said all that can I honestly recommend the game as it stands today? Hand on heart I cannot. Who knows, in 6 months time, maybe that will change, but until I spend £2500 on a new PC, or they fix the game, my copy wont get a look in, life's too short to play a stuttery, juddering mess of a game with input lag.
Just my 2 cents.
The most recent patches have really started to address many of the major problems in this game. I can honestly say now that it may well be time to jump in feet first and get the game. Either get it from the Ubisoft store, or from Direct2drive, as it would appear that STEAM is charging about 50% more than both of the other offerings...
Of course, only those with a relatively recent gaming PC should apply still, as it is a monster of a game with massive system requirements, but it#s a lot safer bet now than it was a month ago!
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