Is this game worth buying?
It depends what you are after. For me, yes, here's why:
- I have experienced slow starts to previous IL2 games, they have all risen to being great sims, and, for the hours and entertainment that I have had, they have all proved to be fantastic value for money. (This has been due to excellent mods for at least one of the series.)
- In it's release state it is better than the previous instalment of IL2 was at its launch.
- The core flight models/mechanics feel great to me, although I do not have any real life or historical knowledge of what to expect.
- Menu options and the unlocks don't bother me too much; the graphics are great for my setup on the highest setting and I've got too much to learn at the moment to be that upset by the 'unlock' process. I spend my time on the missions seeing if I can squeeze a few more km/h in level flight, and I'm always in need of honing my fighting skills, even against the AI/ground targets. I can however understand how those who backed the game from early days may have issues, similarly the more experienced users may find the forced campaign a grind (also of course those who only want Multiplayer).
- I budget carefully for games, and tend to focus on a few certain game genres, combat flight sims being one of these types. This does mean I am prepared to pay more for these games, I don't consider them a 'casual' purchase, I also don't really care if there is a FPS which is going for £20 less; I don't buy dog food even if it is on special offer, simply because I don't actually have a dog.
- I have had many more moments in this game so far which have made me smile, such as either visual ones or events in the missions, or my disastrous landing/combat skills, than negative moments.
- The weather is great, I love it, even if it is a pain. I've found myself having to fly by instruments a fair few times as I've plunged into a bank of cloud
- I play on the highest realism - this is a challenge, but the reward when something goes right is great. Having the assistance/HUD turned off so you just use the dials to fly is how I personally think you get the most from this game (series)
- You can't have external view in the campaign when on the higher (expert) difficulty setting, there is just normal (external possible) or expert (external blocked) settings. In previous games I like to view the outside when cruising or limping home, mainly to see what sort of damage (always nicely modelled) can be seen! A shame I can't enjoy this at the moment.
- The single player (SP) campaign needs a little more life/immersion; e.g. medals instead of acheivements, better stats for your pilot showing clearly what has been claimed as a kill, hit ratio of bullets etc., maybe AI characters tracked in the squadron and so on...
- A bit more intensity from time to time (in SP), sometimes it seems the mission is too isolated and that there is nothing going on elsewhere, however I have had some missions where on the way home I've flown past what appears to be a completely separate interaction and it has been brilliant.
I hope that this game does get the opportunity to grow, it can definitely become something epic; patience with the previous IL2s has always been rewarded both in learning the ropes and developing skills and also the game's development. It may be worth noting I enjoy simply flying in IL2 sometimes, this was the same for me in previous IL2s, I'm not always after constant action and can appreciate the lulls (but remember to look behind you) and I get as much of a kick out of landing safely than combat sometimes.
If you like flight sims, have the funds available without going hungry, then I would say go ahead, drop into the seat of a LaGG or whatever takes your fancy and check out the Battle of Stalingrad!