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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Battle of Stalingrad for War Thunder Fans: An Alternate View

OK, sure and I was maybe a little bit negative about Battle of Stalingrad (BoS) as a potential 'next step' for WT/WOW fans looking for some more challenging flying.

One of our guests, Andrei Simonov, left a comment on the blog here and offered to write his viewpoint on the game, and I love that kind of constructive approach. Much better than the usual 'your blog sux die you loser' comments that I have to deal with.

So here is Andrei's review, which I have taken the liberty of spicing up with a few stolen screenshots and converting currency to Euros.



I am a War Thunder player and I like Battle of Stalingrad

Review by Andrei Simonov

English is not my first language so please excuse that I am brief. I will list the reasons why I have found it to be a natural progress from War Thunder, which is the game I play most in my spare time (I am a student).

In War Thunder I play only FRB, and fly only the IL2 Avenger which I bought on premium sale plus
2000 Golden Eagles. This aircraft for me is the ideal ground attack machine and does not damage easily.

War Thunder IL2
The IL2 pack cost me 20 Euro.

Now imagine my joy to read there is the Battle of Stalingrad, which features my beautiful IL2, in high quality flight model, for only 50 Euro. 
The BoS ultimate ground pounder: IL2
And then for that price I also get other Soviet planes which I can learn to fly: The awesome fast bomber the Pe-2, the Lagg3, Yak-1 . I consider that I got these three other planes for only 30 Euro more than I paid for one good plane in WT.

Also, there are 4 German planes which I DONT want, as I would never, ever fly for the German side, but they are there if ever I would want.

Already this is a bargain to me.

What you need 

I bought a cheap joystick online which has programmable buttons and a slider for the throttle and this was 10 Euros. Now I have nothing more to pay, and it is fine for playing Battle of Stalingrad.

The Stalingrad environment

This environment is special to me because my history is here, and the history of my country. You have to know, this is where for the first time, Germany was shown that it could be beaten. Not Africa. Not Western Europe, here in Russia, at Stalingrad. From Stalingrad onwards, Germany was retreating, thanks to the Russian army and navy and airforces.

This is a very realistic game about that battle, which makes emotions surge strongly for me. I understand not everyone will feel the same, but you just have to read a book and you will feel it. I have asked James to recommend a good book in English.

Stalingrad by Antony Beevor, easily the best English language book about Stalingrad.)

This game has made the story of Stalingrad for the airforces, come to life.

The plane(s)

My IL2 is beautiful. It was not hard to make the change from WT IL2 to the BofS IL2 because the flying in easy (Normal) mode is the same as in WT and a joystick makes it easy to use.

But it feel much much 'heavier'. It is hard to explain but the first few flights I made from air starts, I kept flying into the ground because of not pulling up early enough. I would pull on the stick but the momentum of him kept him going into the ground. This feels very real.

A nicely smashed IL2
And there are good effects when you crash! The crash and damage models are very precise and each part of your plane can take seperate damage, and if the damage is bad there are part of the plane which stop working, but you can keep flying, until the whole plane is damaged, so there is a really good feeling of panic and fear trying to get your machine home if it is smoking or a wing is damaged or a wheel and you have to land and then something else goes wrong.

And if you do smash your machine, don't worry, no repairs to pay for, you get a new one on the next mission!

You can also man the gun and the bombadier positions.
I think once you learn to use a joystick, flying in BofS is not harder than WT with a mouse, and I already feel confident to turn off some of the helping aids and try to fly more and more fully real even for takeoffs and landings after about ten hours time.

The game

The campaign game for BofS is hard. 

James has described here on this blog and he does not like it as much as I do, but it is not easy to find your target and then hit it, because it is well hidden usually in the snow. I have to turn on the map and target icons to find it, but then I turn them off again and that is a good enough help.

I like that the game shows 5 different phases of the air war, from when Germany reached Stalingrad to when it surrendered after being surrounded. But I would have liked to also see the first part of the attack when the German airforce was outnumbering the Russian airforce by 100 times, and the Russians had to fight against huge numbers of German aircraft. This would have been exciting for a game (but not in real life!).

A phase in the campaign where the German airforce heavily outnumber Russian would have been good.
Air combat is good, and the planes behave very realistic in their actions. I have to say in WT you sometimes feel your enemy is rocket powered and seems to zoom higher and faster than ever a real machine could. There is none of that in BofS, every move the enemy makes seems real. And human players in multiplay cannot do amazing things or have weapons which seem overpowered.

Mostly I am playing the single player campaign at the moment because I am learning, and I know on multiplay I would be too easy meat! But don't worry you guys, I am coming!

The graphics

A FW190 cockpit. You will never see me in this one!

I said I like the scenery of Stalingrad because I recognise it and it is realistic for that time of year. I would like more haze and fog, and I would like to see bad weather come more often in the campaign, like snow. But else it is very beautiful.

Some say it is boring to have so much snow, and a bit more variety in the snow colours would be good (yes, snow has colours) but this is a small thing. I am sorry to you all, that is what Stalingrad looks like in winter, just a bit dirtier.

The planes are easily as beautifully drawn as in WT, and with more small details which you can see are very accurate, especially in the cockpits. I have compared the cockpit of the IL2 in WT and in BofS and the one in BofS is much closer to the real cockpit than in WT.

Look at the detail in this screen, the heat blurring the IL2 which is flaming, the haze of the low level cloud, the detail on the plane models. 
For many more screenshots, just go here:


I have the feeling flying my IL2 in BofS that this is as close as I can get to really flying an IL2, and I am only on easy mode, I realise that. This game motivates me to get better and better, to learn to fly my machine on Expert mode without any artificial help so that I can learn how it was really to fly an IL2 at Stalingrad.

And I know that with this game, I can try to make that ambition, where in WT I would have never been convinced it was close to real.

The only things I would ask would be an earlier phase for the campaign, and a cheaper price which did not make me pay for the German planes I do not want, ever!

So I give this score for BofS

Historical: 9/10 (you will see all about Stalingrad air war)
Learning difficulty: 5/10 (I have a lot to learn, but it is worth it!)
Gameplay: 8/10 (there is plenty of ways to have fun in single play and eventually online when you are good enough)
Graphics: 8/10 (very accurate vision of Stalingrad, very good plane and special effects)
Total: 9/10

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