Single player can be, at times, a predictable experience no matter the game or genre. AI opponents and scenarios can sometimes be very predictable in a way that online humans aren’t. With IL-2 the issue is the campaign system auto generates missions offering unlimited replayability but it also means a lot of the same tired situation over and over again despite the slight shift in target, location, or situation.
I just flew a mission earlier today that turns the traditional notion on its head.
My flight of four Bf109E-7s were sent out on an airfield strike. The mission was straightforward enough but with a number of really good twists that made it so much more interesting than the usual auto generated single player campaign mission.
On approach to the airfield, about 25 kilometers out, a dogfight between flights of MiG-3s and Bf109s appeared in the sky high above us. My flight and our escort pressed on ignoring the fight above while preparing for the fight below.
As we approached the airfield it became clear that we were waking into a hornets nest.
Flak on both sides of the field opened up almost immediately spraying shells all over the place and the tell tale sight of four aircraft scrambling from the field increased the tension.
Targeting one of the aircraft taking off (a flight of MiG-3s), I fired a short burst of 20mm cannon and machine gun squarely hitting the MiG-3 and causing fire and smoke to burst from the crippled fighter. Three more MiG-3s were airborne.
Swinging around, I dropped my 250kg bomb on a cluster of parked aircraft and some vehicles starting a fire and taking out three parked Pe-2s and several trucks.
Meanwhile, the fight that I mentioned from earlier in the mission became part of ours as a MiG-3 crashed in flames on the field from higher altitude and another flight of P-40s flew over the airfield looking to defend it. I scored hits on one but three more flashed past with 109F-2s on their tails.
The next few minutes were chaotic with aircraft flying everywhere… MiG-3s attacked from one side and a P-40 attacked from another. Bf109s were flying through the middle picking off targets left and right and in turn being shot at by the base defenses and Russian fighters.
Somewhere in the middle of this, a MiG-3 scored several strikes on my 109 and it was clear there was engine damage, leaking fuel and oil and that it was time to disengage.
Remaining were damaged and crippled Russian fighters, multiple aircraft shot down on both sides, and only one survivor – My damaged but still flying Bf109E-7. One of my flight managed to make it out of the base area only to crash into the trees as a result of damage sustained. The escort, the attacking fighters from high altitude, the MiGs and P-40s either returned to base or crashed attempting to.
It was a savage virtual air combat fight and one to remember. Sometimes missions can be boring but sometimes they can be incredible and this was one of them!