IL-2 Sturmovik, Version 1.04

by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson

Article Type: Review
Article Date: April 17, 2002

Product Info

Product Name: IL-2 Sturmovik
Category: WWII Air Combat Simulation
Developer: Maddox Games
Publisher: Ubi Soft
Release Date: Released (Nov. 2001)
Min. Spec: PII 400 (or equiv.), 128 MB RAM, 3D Accelerator
Rec'd. Spec: PIII 600 or better, 256 MB RAM, 32 bit 3D accelerator with 32 MB RAM or better
Files & Links: Click Here

On April 13th Ubisoft released the latest version of IL-2 Sturmovik. The “patch,” while fixing some bugs, was virtually an upgrade, adding three new flyable aircraft and adding many desired features.

The patch was released in two parts, both around 30MB. The first part includes all the fixes and new features, and the second part (104a) is intended to address the stutter problem for those who had it.

The new aircraft are the BI-1 Soviet rocket fighter, the P.Z.L. P.11c Polish fighter and the Bf 109 F-4.

Key improvements or additions include:
  • A more realistic flaps deployment behavior.
  • Reworked flight models
  • A Full Mission Builder feature restricting available planes in dogfight games
  • An integrated FPS meter
  • A server console command to define plane icons visibility and other options
  • A new ‘Toggle Icon Types’ control command can be used to cycle icon options to simplify or remove them
  • Padlock target selection and cycling procedures are improved
  • Padlock distance increased to 5km and the marker is drawn even with icons off
  • Added wing guns non-synchronization and nose cannons barrel vibration
  • Increased airfield visibility distance to 16 km.
  • Included new switch of difficulty settings “No Map Icons”

Difficulty Settings

New Flight Model:
  1. Reworked high AOA effect on drag and lift.
  2. Reworked energy bleed and addressed energy bleed in sustained turns.
  3. Addressed rates of climb and maneuverability of individual aircraft.
  4. Reworked spin behaviors of a number of aircraft.
  5. Reworked impact of deployed flaps on wing properties.

The new flight model is considerably more detailed than the original version. Maddox Games were able to implement the new model after much optimization.

General Evaluation

On the whole the new game is greatly improved over the last patched version. Flexibility has improved greatly, allowing players to set up the kind of game they want, particularly in multiplayer modes.

Furthermore, the level of challenge has actually increased. Not only can players now fly some very unusual aircraft (the BI-1), but they can also fly a WWI style aircraft in the P11c. Matching the slow but highly maneuverable P11c against standards like the 109 or the Yak 1 is great fun.

There are no “show stopper” issues with the patch. The largest problems I have personally encountered are minor, such as aircraft that start in the air in multiplayer sessions having engine off and no way to start them. This creates a problem for previously designed missions where timing of various elements is important (the player can’t simply move the takeoff point to a runway somewhere and still have the mission “work”).

The list of features above is not complete, and of those listed the new mission builder feature and the reworked padlock and icons may be the most important for game play. The host of a multiplayer session can now define icons along a wide variety of parameters, and can even disassociate icons from the pop-up map.

Unfortunately, the DOTRANGE command does not stick. It is not saved between missions and the settings return to default when new players enter the game (dogfight session) or when players exit the game (coop session). This makes it necessary for the HOST to reinvoke the command by using the CHAT buffer scroll feature or by programming the command to a joystick macro. Either way works well.

Figure 1 - Dots for aircraft just showing

Figure 2 - Dots become aircraft

Figure 3 - Dots become aircraft and icons at 500 m

In version 1.03 and previous, nasty black dots representing other aircraft appeared when they came within 14 km of the player. As far away as 10 km the black dots became colored icons, clearly identifying the incoming aircraft as enemy or friendly. Furthermore, whenever icons were enabled the map showed the position and allegiance of all aircraft on the pop-up map. For this reason, I almost never used the icon system.

German icon fading into view

ICONS set for type at 1.5km

Now it is possible to not only set the range at which dots appear, but they also fade into view. The dots begin as faint grey and gradually become more easy to discern.

After some experimentation, I recommend settings similar to these for online sessions:

Mp_dotrange COLOR 4 DOT 9 RANGE .5 TYPE 2 ID .05 NAME .1

These settings keep the icons small and unnecessary information does not appear on the screen until you are very close to an aircraft. With these settings the aircraft tactical number (ID) and player NAME do not appear until you are under 100 meters. Range information does not appear until the player is within 500 meters. With the above setting the allegiance of approaching aircraft is not discernable until they are within 4 km.

Padlock in the P11c

If this weren’t improvement enough, the padlock is now usable! When IL-2 was first released I used the padlock frequently, particularly when engaging a bandit under 2 km. But I found that enabling the padlock when there were two or more enemies nearby was almost impossible. The padlock would often lock on an enemy under my wing when I was wanting it to lock the closer enemy in my front quarter.

Furthermore, in previous versions I could not use the targeting triangle if I disabled icons. But that triangle is very useful, particularly in early morning or dusk engagements. Now it is possible to use the triangle when icons are OFF, or even to deselect the triangle if you prefer not to use it (a key must be assigned in the CONTROL section of IL-2 to disable the triangle while using padlock).

A New Dogfight

Building a dogfight map

Obviously, these changes greatly impact game play in IL-2, particularly in the very popular online modes. In fact, it is now possible to design dogfight maps that limit the selection of aircraft at any airfield. This is really a huge improvement.

When you set a home base you can access the new “Aircraft” tab and limit available aircraft, sorting by allegiance, year or category. In an instant you can dedicate a base for German bombers, or limit Russian fighters up to 1942. This solves many serverside management problems, and also makes it possible to create dogfight servers dedicated to certain years in the war.

Airport in view at distance

Unrelated, but a change that helps with immersion in any game, airports are now visible up to 16 km. This makes it easier to find your home base, without having to pull up the reference map. But it is also nice since it is more realistic. In good weather conditions you can see the runway and line up from a much greater distance.

New Aircraft and a New Flight Model

There are so many changes to flight characteristics and armament, veteran IL-2 players are having to learn their favorite aircraft from the bottom up.

When I first flew the 109 F-4, I felt it was more twitchy than previous. In fact, I believe this is true of most aircraft. The reason appears to be that drag and speed bleed have increased. As a result, hauling back on the stick now can now bring disastrous results.

I was surprised when I spoke with the 109 veterans of IL-2 to learn that they like the changes. Obviously, some aren’t happy, but most feel that their 109s perform better than the original. Naturally, the F-4 itself is a great improvement over the F-2, another reason to be glad.

The F-4 has 100 more horsepower than the F-2, sports armored glass in front of the pilot, and comes complete with a 20mm cannon instead of the 15mm of the F-2.

I flew the MiG 3U today for the first time since the release of the patch, and my results in a dogfight were good. While I had to pay more attention to stall speed, and I found takeoff even more sluggish than before, I found the MiG a bit faster at the top end and the impact of its 20mm ShVAK’s slightly improved.

Custom Romanian paint scheme

Other changes to the flight model that are immediately noticeable are the more realistic flap deployment times. You can no longer simply pop your flaps down a notch—they take a few seconds to deploy. Trim characteristics are also changed. Trim adjustment is more sensitive, and no longer limits control surface behavior, and no longer confers an unfair advantage on those who would use it to improve turning ability.

The BI-1 and P11c

Flying the new aircraft is a treat. The BI-1 has a maximum speed at sea level of 800 kmh, making it almost as fast as the Me262. But it has a rocket engine with a simple throttle method, so that maximum fuel is about 8 minutes. This makes it necessary for the pilot to turn the engine on and off in order to extend his flight time, and glide toward his target.

The only real advantage of the BI-1 is speed. It is not very maneuverable, and it has only two 20mm cannon, unlike the fantastic hitting power of the four 30mm cannon on the Me262. It is a beast to land. You might be better to bail out!

BI-1 external view

In cockpit in the BI-1

The P11c is the best aircraft in the new stable. With climb and turn characteristics similar to that of the Spitfire MK I, the only disadvantage is its slow speed. Armament is adequate with four synchronized forward-firing 7.9 mm PWU wz.33 machine guns in the fuselage.

The P11c allows IL-2 to evoke the feeling of earlier days when aircraft were light, simple and moderately armed. The P11c is a pilot’s airplane. It depends more on the pilot’s ability at tactical thinking than on speed or horsepower or hitting power. The best way to fight with the P11c is to tempt a faster aircraft into a turning fight. It is a surprisingly tough airplane.

The weak point of the P11c shows only in the AI version. I have watched AI ace pilots, and while they are very good at aiming, they are not great at tactics. They tend not to use the best advantage they have: a superior rate of turn and low stall speed. IL-2 AI is designed for higher speed engagements, and probably would need some adjustment in order to really feature these slower aircraft.

Incidentally, while it is not possible to view the new aircraft in the Object Viewer in the game, there are two new README files in the root directory: one for the BI-1 and another for the P11c. The object modeling for the P11c was completed by David Zurawski, and the modeling for the BI-1 was completed by Ilya Shevchenko.

There are MANY more changes in version 1.04; too many to list. It is now possible to change the time of day while flying online, and limits can be set for TIMEOUT and even auto-kicking. Cheat detection has been implemented in a basic manner (the “lag” cheat) and these settings can also be adjusted by the host. For other changes, check out the README supplied with the patch.

Version 1.04 Bugs and Issues

Some of the more obvious issues have been mentioned above. It is not possible to save the MP DOTRANGE settings at the moment, and they do not stick (lost when players enter or exit). Furthermore, it is not possible to start an aircraft engine in the air in COOP missions (unless TAKEOFF and LANDING setting is OFF in DIFFICULTY options, but then no aircraft can start on the runway).

Here is a list of POSSIBLE bugs gleaned from the Internet. Not all these issues have been confirmed by MADDOX Games:
  1. Unexplained torque like pull to the left with rocket motor on in BI-1.
  2. New il2_snd.dll makes hardware sound unusable on some systems—substituting with old 12/3/01 sound dll gets it working again for some.
  3. A number of existing campaigns can't continue because a 3do file fail to load "Mission loading failed: Mesh 3do/Buildings/Airdrome/HangarT1S1DMG_W/mono.sim not created.". Posted ones include all winter missions.
  4. BI-1 cockpit control graphics work opposite of the actual control input (rudder and stick).
  5. Cockpit lockup in PLZ 11c at speeds over 490.
  6. Brakes work and squeak in the BI-1 ski version.
  7. Hissing sounds in PLZ after it has come to a stop (wind noise continues when parked)
  8. Dead pilot (player) slumped over with a dummy head in normal position.
  9. Some AI planes continuing to fly without wings on one side and after pilots have bailed—plane attempted to land itself (a U2)
  10. PLZ won't stay put on ground if there is wind.
  11. Some reports of the Fw 190 prop/engine continuing to run even when it hits the ground—(collision detection issue?)
  12. Some reports of suicidal barrel rolling AI on ace level when you have tally on them.
  13. No sounds from gun hits from behind when flying PLZ 11c.
  14. BI-1 canopy glass gets some odd reflection effects when inverted with "medium" object lighting. Transparency drops way off and bright colored patches appear on canopy.
  15. IL-2M (first series) is almost impossible to fly with a 4x bomb and 4x rocket load.
  16. There is a discrepancy between the altimeter in the BI-1 and the speed bar. The altimeter may show 1700 meters, and the speed bar will show 2700 meters.
  17. When you select View Career Statistics, the Aircraft Lost count increases by 1. If you then View Medals and return, the Aircraft Lost count is increased by 1 again.
  18. BI-1 When landing with a broken gear, AFTER you come to a successful stop, the plane will start to bounce around, eventually flipping over and killing you.
  19. If a pilot burns to death in a plane and the plane continues flying, the "Player is roasted in the cockpit" messages keep appearing until the plane explodes or crashes.
  20. MP mission starting in flight. The player sees his own prop rotating but external view on any other aircraft shows no rotation.
  21. Some have reported a problem with the AI no longer attacking ships as assigned.

IL-2 Sturmovik Resources

IL-2: Forgotten Battles

Reviews & Features


Interviews with Oleg Maddox

Other Interviews

How-to Guides

Historic Retrospectives

Files & Utilities


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