Birds Of Steel PS3 review
Does any phrase in the English language invoke more merriment and cheer than ‘historically and physically accurate flight sim’? Okay, millions of them. With such attention to detail on the rather dry subject matter of WW2’s Pacific conflict, it’s inevitable that Birds Of Steel comes across a bit po-faced. But, like the Hollywood rom-com hot girl hidden behind her glasses, spend a bit of time getting to know this rather studious plane Jane and you’ll be rewarded by at least some inner beauty.
The two rather short campaigns recreate the pacific conflict from both American and Japanese perspectives, recreating the Pearl Harbor attacks and Battle Of Midway, among others. Stephen Fry-narrated montages of crackly wartime footage set the scene, before you’re strapped into one of over 100 convincing planes flying in a distinctly unconvincing environment.
The machines have clearly been lovingly modelled, but the effect they have at distance, above a low-res landscape, is pretty underwhelming – and that’s what you’ll be looking at for the lion’s share of the conflict.
Normal and hard difficulty settings feel like full-on, smell-the-Brylcreem simulation; even to get off the ground and back down in one piece requires copious lip-biting and squinting. In easy mode you’re free to be a bit more cavalier, letting you concentrate on the dogfighting, dive-bombing and torpedo runs the missions present you with.
Sometimes it clicks – flying around in a mess of flak smoke with what appear to be hundreds of other planes is engrossing, and the aim overlay fixes what’s usually fiddly and imprecise in flight sims.
The presentation chucks a pigeon right in Birds Of Steel’s propeller, though – woeful voice acting and poorly-paced, repetitive missions make it hard to engage with. There’s longevity in the 16-player multiplayer, but the core dogfighting just isn’t compelling enough.
This tries to be the History Channel when it might have been better off as the Memphis Belle, and despite some impressive physics and detail, it’s that dull staging that cooks this bird.