IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946

Fly Hitler’s Stealth Fighter in this World War II flight sim. OK, if you want to fly planes that actually fought in World War II, IL-2 Sturmovik:1946 also has a CV-6 load full of planes to try.

Pros

The sun glare is very blinding. This is the first sim I noticed that the sun blinds the pilot from seeing the instruments. First Eagles has got a sun glare effect but not as blinding as in IL-2.

There is surround sound when using the Logitech G35 and it sounds good too. Make sure to set Speaker Type to Surround in the game setup.

The game comes with the Pacific Fighters manual PDF. Unless you are already well versed with Pacific Fighters, it is a must to read. Although it is only 70 odd pages, it is filled with very useful information about playing the game. To follow up, make sure to read the readme files that came with the game and for each patch you install. Each is a follow up with new information on the new stuff that each patch introduces.

The game does not come with any in-flight music, but you can set up your own. The instructions are in the manual. The music files play in order which differs from what the manual says. The music playback sometimes stutters.

Lots and lots of planes. Even when you exclude variants of the same plane, there are still lots of planes. There are fighters, bombers, ground attack aircraft, naval aircraft with carrier operations, early jets, rocket aircraft, prototypes and planes that were planned but never got built.

Each plane is noticeably different. They handle differently and have different cockpits. It really helps to learn about the plane you wish to fly before flying it.

If you decide to fly the bombers, you can swap seats to gunner positions and also to the bomber guy and use the bombing sights for level flight bombing. In multiplayer you can assign a player to each position on the same plane too.

Sounds and speech are excellent in IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946. Different planes sound different, different guns sound different and each nation speaks their corresponding language… I think. The only languages that I can verify are correct are English, German and Japanese and only because I ask friends that know the languages.

There is time acceleration and like First Eagles, there is a skip to next event also. It is not quite as quick as that of First Eagles though. According to the manual the skip to next event only turns off the graphics of the game and turns on autopilot. Everything else in the game is still calculated and so the speed is dependent on the CPU.

For ultra-realists, the game can be set to full realistic mode. In this mode you cannot view outside the plane, and you must read the instruments to determine your speed, altitude and any other information you need. The map is really just a map and does not indicate your position. Strange, but the compass heading is still visible as a HUD readout in full realistic mode. Everything else like gun effectiveness, flight model and take-offs and landings are also made highly realistic. Of course what do I know since I have never flown a real World War II plane before. I guess it is realistic because it makes the game insanely difficult.

The damage model is incredibly detailed. Not only can part of your wing or tail get chopped off, but you can get holes in the plane as well. Depending on where and the extent of the damage, your flight controls are affected accordingly.

The graphics for IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946 are excellent and surpasses that of Falcon 4.0. Not only are the planes and the damage to the planes well detailed, the clouds, the ground and weapon effects all look great too. Now if they can just fix the forests, then everything would be excellent.

There is a very good replay feature where you can record your flight and play it back later and change the views and playback speed. It is quite flexible, and you can also record a replay of the replay with new camera angles. There are many machinima videos already out there made with IL-2.

Online flying with IL-2 is excellent as long as you can put up with the wait 5 minutes to get into the combat zone. Even with my average 300ms ping I can get a victory.  I have not played online since 2009, so I don’t know how many people still play 1946 online.  It looks like Hyperlobby is still active and there are counters on their page for those that are interested.

If you are feeling artistic, you can paint your own planes, just like First Eagles.

There is good force feedback. Works well with my Wingman Force 3D. The feedback is also quite varied where firing machine guns is lighter than firing cannons and different strength of feedback depending on how bad your plane got hit.

There are several ways to play the game. Dynamic Campaigns generate missions as you go. Static Campaigns are more story oriented fixed campaigns with a little bit of variation. It is possible to get different missions at certain stages, but all missions are pre-built. Single missions are very much just that. Then there is the quick mission builder where you can set some parameters and get flying very quickly.

There is a comprehensive full mission builder that you can use to build single missions. You can also string together all the single missions you have built into your own custom static campaign. It is all explained in the manual.

Cons

Why is it that trains sometimes travel off-tracks? This happened in a stock dynamic campaign.

With realism comes a steep learning curve and difficulty. IL-2 is a very difficult game. Even when playing on the easiest settings(except for invulnerability) I found it difficult. It cannot be the arcade flyer that First Eagles can be set to.

There is no global career profile that stores all the pilot’s statistics. Each campaign has its own statistics for the pilot. When a campaign is completed, that is the end of one career. The ranks, medals and kill scores do not get carried to the next campaign. Sure this is realistic, but I do wish there was a global statistics store as well.

I am not sure what is it with flight sims and trees, but this is another game where you cannot crash into individual trees. Buildings, vehicles and forests you can, just not individual trees.

Other Points

On my game DVD, Setup.exe does not run under Windows 7 64 bit. I did manage to install the game by running a.exe though.

If you set unlimited ammo to be on, it includes all guns, rockets and bombs as well. This could make the game more difficult if you are playing with realistic flight model, because the bombs reduce manoeuvrability. The other issue it can cause is, some fighters that carry different types of bombs, must finish dropping one type of bomb before it can drop the other type.

IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946 is available DRM free from GOG.com.

Patches

There are a lot of patches for IL-2 1946.  Here is a nice list of patches.

4.12.2m Mega Patch – One patch to rule them all and sets the game to be ready for B.A.T. mod(see below).  The Mega patch is on that nice list of patches too.

Handy Tips

If your screen is not one of the standard resolutions that the game allows you to choose, there is a way to force the game to use your screen’s resolution. In the game install folder edit the file conf.ini. under the [window] section, set width= and height= to your screen’s resolution and also set SaveAspect=0. Make sure you back up the file before editing it.

Get ND’s Aircraft reference guide from Mission4Today. It has better information about the planes than the standard Aircraft Guide that comes with the game.

Recommended Mods

IL-2 Dynamic Campaign Generator. The DCG is a very flexible tool that lets you change lots of parameters for a custom dynamically generated campaign. Want to fly a Gotha Go-229 for the RAAF over Italy? You can do that with DCG. It is possible to run DCG as the main campaign generator for IL-2 or to run it along side the main campaign generator that came with the game.

B.A.T. mod.  This is a huge modpack that adds new planes, maps, campaigns and even functionality.  There is a lot of information on everything, but I found it quite easy to install and run. I only installed up to V3.1 Operation Sealion, because I only wanted to play a Battle of Britain campaign.  V3.1 comes included with a few static Battle of Britain campaigns.  The mod also comes with the very convenient level stabilizer.  Autopilot not taking you to where you want to go?  Just point your plane in that direction and activate the level stabilizer.  Then you can set your throttle and time accelerate without worrying about keeping your plane steady.  A real time saver for those that lead busy lives, but still want to play flight sims.

DCG Battle of Britain V1.3 BAT.  This mod makes use of the above two mods to create a dynamic Battle of Britain campaign.  It works very well.

Biases

I started playing with version 4.11m.  More recently I have been playing with version 4.12 and with B.A.T. mod V3.1

I like to play with full realism except for unlimited ammo, HUD plane indicators, HUD instrument readings, external views, padlock view, no cockpit view and autopilot.

I mainly play air-to-air missions. I tried some ground-attack missions as well, but do not like it that much. I was too lazy to learn up the big bombers level bombing techniques.

I really liked First Eagles, Falcon 4.0, Gunship 2000 including Islands and Ice, Falcon 3.0, Knights of the Sky, T.F.X., Fleet Defender, F-15 Strike Eagle 3 and Jane’s Fighters Anthology.

I also liked LHX Attack Chopper and Harrier Jump Jet.

 

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