World War 2 Sims and Strategy (non-RTS)?

I’ve just finished Battlestations Midway and enjoyed the game, but now I’d like more. What’s available for sim type games from the WW2 area? In particular, I’d love games with the old Aces of the Pacific feel. They were fun to casually pick up and play, but had some depth. I don’t want to learn to fly a plane for 10 hours just to get to try and shoot at an enemy.

What I’ve seen:
Silent Hunter 4 - I’ll grab this when its released, as it looks good.

IL-2? How hardcore is this? From all accounts it looks like it has a brutal learning curve.

Beyond that, what else is out there? Any good games involving the Pacific theatre?

Company of Heroes is fun, but I guess I want a non-RTS game for a bit :).

IL-2 has a brutal learning curve… well, that’s true :). Don’t try and fly online when you start out.

IL-2 does pretty much everything at this point except, rather oddly, those iconic high-altitude escort and bombing missions that so defined the US’s view of the airwar. It has perhaps one of the most realistic aircraft carrier take-offs i’ve ever flown in a WW2 game. At this point, it also has more or less every major Soviet aircraft flown during the war, aside from some of their medium bombers.

I’ve heard it said that there are so many potential missions in the mission generator that’s it’s nearly impossible to fly them all in a human lifetime. Now, granted, the campaign in IL-2 is still rather sterile (to be kind), and the AI, for all it’s dogfighting prowess, is suicidially aggressive and almost never retreats (the biggest difference between human and the AI), so you’ll learn to beat it eventually and grumble about it’s weaknesses, but it’s still quite competent.

Just last Friday, for example, i was flying Hurricanes vs. 109-E4s, and was shot down by an AI aircraft. In the heat of battle, i sometimes can’t tell which is a human pilot and which is an AI! They’re both about the same in skill amazingly enough.

If you’re interested in flying on Fridays, and have the latest, greatest IL-2 version (1946), you can hop on with us and maybe fly as a rear gunner or something easy, to see what’s it’s like with real people. Or if you have any questions, i’ll help out if you want.

But, this is all contingent on how much time you want to put into it. IL-2 is more of a lifestyle than a game at this point. It’s still fun if you just want to fly every now and then, but it’s best online.

Il-2 is a great sim from a technical standpoint, but kind of soulless.

Online was a mixed bag for me - I remember having a lot of fun on a server that stuck to pre-war planes, and had a small map so you could be back up and fighting quickly after getting downed. But I also remember the servers which would dump you on a HUGE map with like 4 other people so that you couldn’t ever find anyone to shoot at. I also remember at least one instance where I got killed over and over by some guy ramming me repeatedly, at no apparent effect to himself. That was annoying.

I’d love to see a remake of 1942:Pacific Air War - it had just the right balance of realism and playability for me. Plus the strategic layer was pretty fun, too.

I’d love to see a remake of 1942:Pacific Air War - it had just the right balance of realism and playability for me. Plus the strategic layer was pretty fun, too.

Yes, that’d be great. That was the game I was thinking of that was one step beyond Aces of the Pacific.

Does IL2 have a Pacific campaign (you mentioned carriers)? Is the game playable via a gamepad or am I really looking at a full joystick setup? I’d love to get a casual WW2 flier, but I don’t have time to really get into super details.


Yeah, 1946 includes Pacific Fighters with carriers.

If you plunk down about 40$ for a Saitek Evo you’ll be happy you did… great joystick, tons of buttons, and it’s lasted through quite a lot of abuse. Gamepads still lack the sensitivity for precise aiming/turning as hard as possible without stalling, IMO.

Although the interface is spartan and clunky to get around, IL2 can be made to fly easier than your xbox arcade equivalent. Turn off the flight modelling, dumb the AI down, triple your guns’ punch,add unlimited ammo and easy takeoff/landing and you can be unstoppeable, at least offline. Don’t turn the game down because you’re intimidated. As you get used to the feel of the game you can start flipping the switches back on.

ShockWave’s Battle of Britain 2 is also a good play, having lots of options for the Noob, they’re just a little harder to get at since they’re spread out of a couple of screens. The graphics probably are a little more muddy than IL2’s and the damage model can’t even compare, but they have engagements in the hundreds of aircraft which is downright impressive, and the sounds are much superior. The game has a strategic campaign that rivals any wargame out there, and lets you jump into any mission at any time to play it out. So, recommended as a close second to 1946. Just get the patch first thing.

Just out of curiousity, how Vista friendly are Il-2: 1946 or Shockwave’s Battle of Britain? I loved Rowan’s original version but for all the bugs in the campaign mode.

I know a few people who seem to be running IL2: 1946 on Vista but no idea how well, I’ll see what I can dig up.

Arg, as hard as everyone says IL-2 is to fathom, i couldn’t even figure out how to take off in Battle of Britain 2. But in an airstart, combat was easier than in IL-2. It looked better in an abstract way, but not in a fidelity way.

I just started skimming some of the IL2 stuff (and a SimHQ review) and noticed that half the planes and ships from the Pacific seem to be missing. Where is the Yorktown, Yamato and other ships? Did they get added in the newer versions, or are royalty fees hurting IL2? Battlestations Midway has the various correct ships in it.

I guess I’m kind of surprised at Naval contractors demanding fees for WW2 era ships and planes. Is this relatively new?

Well, the Pacific Theatre is not done to completion because this is at it’s heart still an Eastern European ground-attack sim. So, no, if you’re looking for dozens of ships to recreate the battles of the Coral Sea et al, you’re going to be sorely dissapointed.

It’s hard to tell what would have happened in the future that will-not-be-but-could-have-been, but because Ubisoft got sued by Northrop Grumman, essentially, American anything is all but taboo now from the developers point of view, and it’s unlikely that Maddox Games will ever touch anything related to the US with a 10’ pole. Write your congressman about the public owning the copyright of planes made 65 years ago, i guess.

That also bring up a pretty important point - many simmers are very nationalistic. I’m not putting you in this camp or whatever, it’s just an observation. IL-2 doesn’t really offer a “US-only” simmer as much in the way of meat. There are a lot of US planes, but not the famous settings these planes flew in. The recent additions of IL-2 have really catered to the aviation enthusiast more than the general “nationalist” simmer. So, you can fly in WW2 planes for Finland or Slovakia or Romania, or fly Buffaloes in the defence of Singapore, or whatever. But if you’re looking for a strongly US centered sim this isn’t it. Most of the European Front campaigns are post-Normandy ground support missions, taking off from Continental airbases, and not Big Wing bombing raids.

That also bring up a pretty important point - many simmers are very nationalistic.

I’m ‘nationalistic’ in some ways because I’ve studied and been very interested in the naval and air battles of the Pacific wars, particularly the battles around Midway. A lot of my preferences are based on what I know, but it seems more interesting to me to participate in larger battles centered around large ships, then bombing tanks in the woods in Europe.

What larger air battles happened in Europe, beyond the large scale bombing raids the US had, or what happened over Great Britain? I profess ignorance on the Russian and German air front. I know the big fighter names such as the Wildcats, Spitfires, Mustangs, as well as some of the German fighters, but not much else. So, what am I missing in Europe? What does IL2 offer in this regard?

Is there a listing of what is included in Silent Hunter 4, or will it be impacted by various licensing issues as well?

The thing about Il2, at least in single player, is that the focus is completely on simulating the planes as machines. If what you are after is some other part of the experience of flying in a war, you might not find it there.

Yeah, exactly, and it’s why I find it unrewarding as a sim. I want my WWII sim games to recreate the experience of being a fighter pilot, or sub captain, or tank commander, etc. Accurately modeling the machines is only one part of that, and it’s a part that gets WAY too much focus in recent sims.

To me, more and more “realism,” in the sense of extremely detailed vehicle modeling, only adds to the gameplay inasmuch as it adds to the verisimilitude of the experience. There comes a point where additional realism detracts from the accessibility without any noticible improvement in how “real” the game feels.

Silent Hunter 3 was such a briliant effort because the designers clearly understood this.

If you want large scale aerial battles than Shockwave’s BoB2 is for you. hundreds of hurricanes, spits, bf109-110 swarming around tight bomber formations.

Also, keep in mind IL2 has a full mission editor. I’ve made quick missions centering around a flottilla of pacific theatre ships. AA guns in IL2 are merciless and eat up FPs on high effects settings though, but no reason you can’t create your own battle scenarios, using generic carriers and battleships and standins for your named ships. There are also several user made pacific campaigns of varying quality and authenticity.

That’s not totally true - flying on the Eastern Front over Leningrad at night bathed in the eerie green glow of the northern night sky is pretty memorable.

But IL-2 is very much about the machines not the men. The history of the Eastern Front is quite interesting once you learn about it, something that IL-2 really teaches it’s players. For ex., two American planes, the P-39 Aircobra and F-2A Buffalo, which were widely hated by American servicemen, ended up on the Eastern Front as some of the most effective aircraft of the war. Does this kind of history interest you?

If the stories of these sorts of “forgotten” aircraft sounds cool, then you’ll like IL-2. If you just want a sim where you fly in the movie “Battle of Midway”. you’ll find IL-2 to not be your cup of tea.

btw, since the original post was also directed at strategy titles, Theatre of War is due out this fall which looks to be pretty detailed. Sort of like a Company of Heroes without all the RTS gimmicks.

And although this may be outside the parameters, Brothers in Arms:Earned in Blood was a pretty convincing ww2 squad tactical FPS – no power ups or health packs here. Red Orchestra is supposed to be even grittier.

Red Orchestra is pretty good and all, better than Counterstrike, but it’s still (make no mistake) a map-driven game dominated by a handful of players. Even coordinated teams seem less effective than the occasional ubermensch that wanders onto the servers. These players are generally on the German side because they get a handful of very nice, well rounded weapons like the Stg44. German grenades are also more effective in the right hands than the Soviet/Western variety.

So, while Red Orchestra does allow for some somewhat sophistated feeling combat, most of the time you have the great swirling newb masses being gunned down by a handful of top players, like most FPS games online.

The P-39 Aircobra is one of my favorite planes from WW2. Any chance that the P-61 Black Widow is in IL-2?

No, a couple years ago there were some rumors it was being developed, but the Grumman affair killed all development of US aircraft.

Have you heard of the P-63? This was the Kingcobra, the eventual replacement of the P-39 that went into almost exclusive use on the Eastern Front (2000+ out of about 3000). The U.S. thought it was a crap plane by reputation and used it as specialized gunnery target trainer, but Alexandr Pokryshkin, one of the top Aces of the USSR of all time who used P-39s almost exclusively till the end of the war even when more advanced Soviet designs were finally being mass produced, was reputed to have said it was better than any Soviet or Allied aircraft at medium altitudes.

And, yea, it’s in the game :). Use of it though seems to have been lost to history, as the Soviets made little effort to detail the use of foreign aircraft at times. Half of all A-20s for example, a fast little light/medium American bomber, were sent to the USSR, yet hardly anything is known of their deployment and uses in combat there.

I do know of the Kingcobra.

I might need to dig out my copy of IL-2 and check out my beloved P-61. I’m guessing that the A-26 Invader is around too?

Thanks :)