|System: X360, PS3, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gaijin Games / 1C Company||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 505 Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Those who are truly brave can unlock the far more substantially challenging realistic mode and then the absurdly hardcore-tough simulation mode through the tutorial section. These advanced options ramp up the physics and finicky-ness, consequently making it harder than hell to keep your bird airborne much less actually make a dent in the sizeable Nazi forces you're meant to destroy.
Things like slowdown from gunfire, stall warnings, and jostling the controls too quickly are among many other elements that you have to take a lot more seriously. Attempting to climb too quickly or turn too sharply will send you into a tailspin that's tough to recover from. Most players will want to stick with arcade mode, but the hardcore flight sim fans will appreciate the attention to detail and authenticity found in Birds of Prey's advanced options.
Taking to the skies, you'll find the many different planes you can hop into have a solid level of detail to them. Your plane winds up riddled with bullet holes and trailing smoke when you get shot up, and watching bogies fly apart in explosive blasts from well-placed streams of gunfire is awesome. Three different views (third-person, first-person bombing run, and cockpit) offer some great variations in perspective that are extremely helpful during missions. Smoke, explosion, cloud, and lighting effects are impressive during some of the bigger over-city battles. Flying down kamikaze-style at building top level (even going so far as to trench-ride the streets of Berlin like in Star Wars) reveals a lot of nice visual details. The graphics aren't the best we've seen in console flight games thus far, but they more than do the trick and there are some highly impressive moments found here and there. On the audio front, the dialogue is superbly done, and your radio chatters constantly with update reports on what's happening.
It doesn't take long to blow through the campaign on a first pass, though going back to test your mettle on a more advanced difficulty setting and playing through additional unlockable missions is worth exploring here. A handful of online multiplayer modes let you engage in dogfights, bombing runs, team battles, and other challenges. However, it's tough to find enough other players to go up against, and some server wonkiness muddled numerous attempts to dive into the online fun. Despite that, Birds of Prey shines brightly as a solo endeavor in large part due to the extreme level of authenticity and attention to getting the flight mechanics just right.
CCC Staff Contributor