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Cliffs of Dover - Hurricane campaign

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The gentlemen versus the players versus the Germans!


Until a few days ago, having no interest in multiplayer, I had steered cleared of Cliffs of Dover. Until recently, I didn't have a system anywhere near the minimum spec of the current version on Steam, the Team Fusion 'Blitz Edition' (although it turns out to run smoothly, so far, at good-looking settings on a 1.5Gb GTX580, a lot less that the minimum 4Gb stated). So, how come this mission report? Well despite reports of poor AI, broken radio commands and limited single player content, I got it cheap enough to mitigate the limited satisfaction which I was resigned to expecting.

First forays with my new toy confirmed the presence of several things I didn't like. Dispersion of effort into planes with little or no role in the Battle of Britain proper, which must be at the expense of something. Hedgerows replaced with 'tree-rows' and rather strong terrain colours (if not as cartoon-y as early versions). Over-weathered Hurricanes looking like ex-Japanese Army Airforce stock. Reasonable levels of radio traffic, but with some howlers like the boss being described as the Commander, instead of the Leader. Radio comms menu present but seemingly, much of it non-functional. Key commands a chore to set up, partly thanks to confusing duplicate labels in the settings table. Aircraft very hard to spot, without labels. RAF squadron codes vary from unit to unit, but are in too round a font. And that was before finding out whether the doubtless delectable but totally silly Spitfire Girl was still lurking in the wings (pun intended).


...if you can get over some quirks, the visuals are pretty good, especially the cockpits, and as I said performance was surprisingly smooth. I tried a few of the included single missions for the RAF, and found them passable fun, again apart from some more quirks mentioned here. So I decided to have a look at the current CloD single-player campaign, despite not having every last key properly set up, and in particular not having worked out how CloD's padlock works (I use mouselook but don't like head tracking systems).

I soon found that the SP campaign is for an RAF fighter pilot, and apparently consists of a set of scripted missions, of unknown number so far. They have imaginatively-written briefings, which remind me of the best to be found in user-made campaigns for IL-2 '46, such as Blinding Sun and Faltspinman's Willi Jedermann series. Except that the briefings, creative though they be, are in some places bit twee - how do you say it in the US, 'cheesy'? 

The back-story is that you are a working class boy, or perhaps lower middle class, recently signed up in the RAF and posted to your Hurricane squadron, which is based at Tangmere, close to the Channel coast, at about the time the Battle of France ends. Your squadron is fictitious, but nicknamed the Fat Cats Squadron, because its pilots are basically rich kids. In this respect it sounds a bit like 501 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, which really was like that, being known as 'the millionaire's squadron'. In this CloD equivalent, the first briefing puts you firmly in your place, socially-speaking. But you are taken under the wing of a friendly flight commander with a similar 'limited background' to yourself, also from the Manchester area, a 'northerner' not a proper chap from the jolly old Home Counties. Your first mission with this less than friendly lot involves a scramble against a sudden, low-level raid by three Dornier 215 bombers which catches you on the ground, followed closely by a larger wave of maybe another nine.


Second time up, you are scrambled to protect a Channel convoy against an attack by a large-ish bunch of Stukas, apparently unescorted. There are some screnies and brief notes on both missions in the post linked to above. Tolerably good, I found both, and the briefings link the missions together quite well.


This report is from mission number three. The briefing begins with you and your friendly flight commander having a rather sad bitching session about the toffs who won't accept the likes of you and he into their circle, and ends when he breaks off to point out a damaged German bomber he's just spotted, apparently making for the coast on its own, in an effort to get back to France. 'Our planes are ready to go, let's go get him and orders be dammed!' is the gist of what he says next.

So here we are. The mission has loaded and I'm sitting, engine running (no complex engine management mouseclick madness for me), in FC-A, with my new-found friend-for-life the flight commander in FC-M. The Fat Cats probably have personalised number plates on their MGs and Aston Martins, so I suppose it's no wonder they have their own fictional squadron code.


The grass colours are really a bit dark but the airfield detail, as you can see, is fairly decent. It includes moving vehicles, notably some idiot racing around at about 50 MPH in a fifteen hundredweight truck or the like, fortunately well clear of any aircraft. Probably, it's some bored fat cat whose MG is in for a service.

But where is the Hun? No-where to be seen, is the answer, so, slightly deflated, I wait for something to happen.

...to be continued!

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Up and at 'em!


After a bit, an interesting conversation developed on the airwaves between my flight leader and the CO, as you can see from the on-screen text. Must see if there's a way to zap this, or at least confine it to a single line, like you can do with a conf.ini edit in IL-2 '46. After a while, thinking that the Heinkel would be well away by the time we got off, I quit waiting for my boss to stop chatting and start flying, and took off on my own. The take-off itself reminds me, in general feel, of the original sim.

I climbed away coastwards, wondering how the boss had spotted the Hun when I could not, but thinking that was the most likely direction in which he lay. You might just be able to make out the other Hurricane on the grass strip, towards the far end on the right. Incidentally I really like the engine and other sounds in CloD, though the R/T chatter is a bit low-volume with default settings.


Why there is such a visible strip on a grass airfield, I'm not sure. In fact, come to think of it, there was a concrete runway in one of the two previous missions - here it is, in case you don't believe me...


Perhaps we had changed bases, and I hadn't paid enough attention.

Anyway, off I went. As you can see, my kite has the bulbous Rotol constant speed airscrew spinner which was designed for the Spitfire, with a backplate slightly too big in diameter for the Hurricane (the later Hurricane Rotol spinner, fitted to later MkIs and the MkII and onward, is the more elongated, bullet-shaped one). DeHaviland two-speed props had smaller, pointy spinners, the Spit version also being a bit big for the Hurri. CloD seems to model Spit Rotol and Hurricane DH props ie you can choose a plane with either.


I flew out to sea for a bit...


...but seeing nothing, I decided that something was amiss. So I turned on the in-flight mini-map and noticed my 'flight plan' lay in the opposite direction. I swung around, speeded up and finally, well off to the east-north-east of Tangmere (and well beyond my flight-leader's legitimate range of vision, which must be Superman-class) I finally spotted him getting stuck into the Heinkel. That's him, zooming after an attack from astern. I would have missed them both had I not got aircraft icons turned on, in the mini-map. Calling Control for an enemy vector is one of the few things in the CloD Blitz comms menu that seems to work, but I haven't yet figured out such basics as whether the bearing he gives you is relative to your heading, or absolute, from North.


So I opened the throttle and had a pop at the Hun. The boss had survived making a stern attack, and so did I.


Gunnery seems not too hard but there's more smoke than tracer, besides which my rounds seemed to be consistently going high, so perhaps I need to adjust the range setting on my reflector sight, or learn to use it better. Anyhow I got some hits, seeing pieces fly off, which is always a good sign. But on the Hun flew.


As I wheeled around for another attack, my boss made his next one.


Then it was my turn again. The enemy air gunners were no snipers, though I think I heard one hit on my machine. But a bit of jinking as I came in - not all of which was deliberate - seemed to keep me from serious harm.



As I was coming in for my third pass, I saw the boss make one from dead ahead...


...shortly after which, I clobbered Jerry from behind again. Note the additional bits flying.


Surely that must be it, I thought. And so it was. When I Iooked back, the Heinkel had gone, down amongst some trees, but with no particular sign of a crash. Strange, like the wreck and any trace of it had 'de-spawned' almost instantly, faster even than they do in Rise of Flight.

Oh well, job done. Now, back to Tangmere, to find out if our upper crust squadron leader would forgive us our youthful indiscretion.

...to be continued!

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I bought the updated Steam version a while back because it was cheap and I understood it was largely fixed compared to the original release. The graphics are nice. I like the plane set. For me, it is the one reason to fly CoD. The Beaufighter and Blenheim aren't flyable in any recent and/or mainstream WW2 combat flight sims. But I will hardly ever fly it. There are simply too many available options that are better, both newer and older.

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Home...and tea!


This was the last time I saw Picket, my friendly flight leader, shortly after the Heinkel went down. Had I turned on labels, I might have been able to keep track of him, but I didn't, probably because I haven't yet set up or memorised all the important keystrokes. Anyhow I knew roughly were I was in relation to our airfield, so I turned around in a wide sweep which took me away from the coast and then back to the west, slightly further inland than I judged base to be, so I could pick it up visually to port.


This is what the inflight map looked like, fully zoomed out, during this manoeuvre. I'm not sure Gatwick deserves to be so prominently marked on it, as it was probably an insignificant village with a small commercial airfield in 1940.


Tangmere being a grass airfield it wasn't the easiest to pick out at the low level at which I was flying, but I eventually spotted it, having slowed down and opened the canopy - which I see is common practice in multiplayer, for better visibility. Tut, tut.


I usually land (and take off) from the external view - yes I know, tut, tut - but the lack of peripheral vision and the limits of MonitorVision make precise judging of height unpleasantly difficult, unlike the handful of Cessnas I have actually flown, where you could always pop open the flimsy little door, lean over a bit and look down (only kidding but you get my point).

At this juncture, while sticking to the external view, I decided to do something different. Apparently WW2 fighter pilots often landed off a curving approach, so they could keep the landing ground in view the whole time, rather than lose it under the long nose during a conventional approach. So that's what I decided to to. Somebody had come up on the R/T telling me to join the circuit, which sort of thing I normally try to do since taking those flying lessons. But this time, I looked to be in a decent position to go straight in and my speed was already low enough to drop the undercart and commence my approach. So that's what I did.


For a while, my first landing off a curved approach seemed to be going tolerably well, although not having done it before, it was hard to be sure.


What caught me out in the end was pausing to take pictures and not picking up smoothly where I'd left off. So I bounced badly, failed to catch her in time, plonked down heavily and after a few more wobbles, pitched slowly over onto my back. Ooops!


This seems to be the standard form of a CloD 'debriefing'. It looks like I'm getting the credit for the Heinkel, and that both Hurricanes were written off. How the boss's kite came to grief, I have no idea.


However, looking at the results screen, it seems the show was rated as a win for the good guys. Even if Terry Tweed, the stuck-up squadron leader, was still clearly not best pleased. And the 'lawn chairs' should really be called 'deck chairs' (although I daresay pilots used whatever they could get hold off).


Will future missions stay small scale, or will I see something more in line with the scale of the real Battle? If so, will my PC still be able to take the strain? Will duff AI let down the whole thing, especially when we meet the escorts? Will I become exasperated by the gaps in the comms menus? Will the storyline continue to hold my interest? I'm going to play on, so I'll find out in due course. So far, having started with the expectation that I'm not going to get a Battle of Britain experience as comprehensive or as authentic as BoB2, and not having been out a lot of money, I'm quite liking the experience and have found a couple more SP campaigns I may try.

Incidentally, I see there's a pic in the Haynes 'Owner's Workshop Manual' for the Hurricane of a MkIIa, Z2487, coded FC-T, which the caption says is from the Station Flight at RAF Northolt in 1941; while Wikipedia says squadron code FC was carried by the same flight but from Kenley. At any rate, the code is not entirely fictional.

That book and the excellent 'Gun Button to Fire' by 249 Squadron BoB Hurri pilot Tom Neil I have been encouraged to pick up through flying the virtual Hurricane in BoB2 and now concurrently in CloD. Tom, who was credited with no less than 13 victories during the Battle, including six 109s, passed away during 2018 and so this mission report is humbly and respectfully dedicated to him, and to all his comrades in RAF Fighter Command. Per ardua ad astra


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21 hours ago, streakeagle said:

I bought the updated Steam version a while back because it was cheap and I understood it was largely fixed compared to the original release. The graphics are nice. I like the plane set. For me, it is the one reason to fly CoD. The Beaufighter and Blenheim aren't flyable in any recent and/or mainstream WW2 combat flight sims. But I will hardly ever fly it. There are simply too many available options that are better, both newer and older.

I'd tend to agree with much of that, although you definitely can fly the Beau (and I think maybe also the Blenheim) in both Il-2 '46+DBW and in CFS3+ETO expansion.








Ok this is a Beaufort but I think there's a flyable Blenheim, too.


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Picked up Cliffs of Dover myself from Steam over the holidays and have probably the same criticisms. Am a couple of missions ahead of you in the campaign, and it looks like it's been pitched to gradually build up the skillset (e.g. scrambled to intercept some bombers that turned out to be Bf-110s, gently introducing us to dogfighting ) so hopefully we'll have some much bigger scale missions, with bombers and escorts, to come.

Enjoying things so far though.

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I never cared for the original IL-2 very much. When Pacific Fighters came out, I enjoyed flying the F4U from carriers. Other than F4U carrier ops and some P40 missions vs Japanese,  I have less than 10 hours of flying time invested in all the IL-2 releases from the first all the way to 1946.

If you count mods, you can also fly just about anything in the SF series. I don't like IL-2 1946 to begin with, so I have zero interest in its mods... Especially trying to make jet fighters with radar and missiles work.

Mods not withstanding, virtually no sims ever had the Blenheim or the Beaufighter as flyables out of the box... and certainly none with the graphics quality and realism of CoD.

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@Strikeagle - as with many other sims, for me it's the mods that make Il-2 '46, and thanks mostly to Mission4Today there's more than enough missions and campaigns to get the most from it, albeit outside of WW2 it's overtaken by other sims. SF would have made a very good basis for a WW2 sim, just like it did for WW1 with FE1 and 2, if it had the same quantity and quality of 3d models and textures, maps and campaigns for WW2 as Il-2 '46; but it's not close, so that's that. IL-2 '46 for me is now by a wide margin the best all round WW2 combat flight sim (mods included, there's no point looking at it any other way). With BoB2 still the best simulation of the Battle by about the same considerable margin.

Confirmed, CFS3 + ETO expansion has several flyable Blenheims, bomber and fighter, in MkI and MkIV versions:



@alienjb42 - yeah I just flew that mission which had 110s masquerading as bombers. That storyline's slightly shaky credibility was stretched to breaking point when the debrief had the post mission chatter crediting the 110s with having 'totally outmatched' the Hurricane (plus saying the German had the 110s and the Defiants - presumably that second 'they've' should have been 'we've', preferably with apostrophes where they should be!). 


  During the mission, the skies were red - with the R/T chatter's text display, which will drive me bonkers if I can't limit or supress it, never mind it's repetitive and refuses to use realistic terms like 'bandit' instead of 'enemy' or 'Leader' instead of 'Commander'.


The best I could manage was a 110 damaged...


...at the cost of a windscreen that'll need a bit of attention...


The 110 kept obligingly pulling up steeply towards my level again, after each time he went down under fire...


Despite trailing glycol or fuel or both, when I ran out of rounds and let him go after a few more roller-coaster efforts, he flew off, level this time, after his distant mates, west up the middle of the Channel, not directly back to base never mind the shortest route back to terra firma. It's like the AI has a fixation with flying its waypoints regardless of being left completely behind everyone else and 50% damaged, as the post-mission stats informed me.

Realism isn't just about the accuracy or otherwise of flight and 3d models, it's also about having hedgerows not just tree-rows in SE England and something resembling realistic missions, enemy formation sizes and radio voice procedure. In that respect, CloD's a long way behind Battle of Britain 2, but having settled that in my own mind, I'll carry on with the campaign and see if it can continue to hold my interest, despite the blip in the latest mission

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Update as of mission 5 - well, I'm hanging in there, though the campaign is still living off 'unrepresentative' missions. And the mission storylines, in their effort to provide a convincing background, are struggling to be...well, convincing.

Here's the latest one. It's a 'scramble' to provide cover for a withdrawing squadron seen to be threatened by some marauding 109s. Now I've read a few Battle of Britain pilot memoirs, many campaign histories, and Alfred Price's detailed studies of the air operations on 18th August and 15th September; and I just don't find this mission backstory credible. A sweep to try to catch 109s on their withdrawal might have provided a less unrealistic basis for a similar mission, even for Hurricanes rather than the faster Spitfires. But no. And they insist on calling the other squadron 'the 257' rather than just '257'. Whoever was doing the scripting or translation is not a reader of RAF pilot memoirs, evidently. It's all very well getting every last detail of an instrument panel right, but this sort of detail is important, too.


This, I thought, would be my first real experience of the apparently unloved CloD artificial intelligence, as applied to the important business of air combat. Even though my expectations were not high, the result was a bit inconclusive, if not totally bad. A bit like that curate's egg - you know, the one he said, when asked, was 'good, in parts' out of politeness to his host.

I have by now realised that you can turn off the radio message text display by clicking on and deactivating the invisible box in which the text appears, at the cost of having to recreate it from scratch if you want to see it again. On reflection I may do this, if only to get the first line back again, unless I can find a sound setting which significantly increases the very low volume of the R/T chatter. Which is almost inadudible

There were six of us in the mission and - because the briefing text told us nothing much useful, like in which direction we were to head - I had to follow my leader. Either that, or turn on the map, which I have currently set to show waypoints and aircraft icons, one or both of which I should probably disable. I think you can display the map alongside the text intro, toggling it on where the pic of Heinkels is, in the shot above. Map should be on by default, really, as in 'old' Il-2.

I was flying in the leading vic on my leader's left. Not very tightly at all, as formation-flying is not my strong suit. But accompanied by inaudible and now also invisible R/T messages, when well out over the Channel, the boss started wheeling all over the sky, for no apparent reason, leaving both me and the other, AI pilot in our section struggling to keep up. Even from the external view I could see no reason for this, or what happened to the second 3-plane section.

After a while, a 109 with yellow wing-tips flew underneath me, apparently flying straight and level for home and oblivious to us. But he seemed to have disappeared into thin air by the time I had come around after him. This was about the best view I got of the Hun.


Having by now lost sight of any other Hurricanes, and indeed of any other planes at all, I flew south on my own for a while, unable to get anything useful from the broken radio command menu (except a bearing back to base). I could have turned on the map but I didn't much feel like cheating, with those aircraft icons still not turned off.

After a while, I spotted a vic of three planes up ahead, also flying south. Must be the second section of Hurris, I thought, so I sped after them. Even with the revs reduced at intervals to keep the temps down, I slowly overhauled them, till I was about in mid-channel and feeling a bit exposed. I felt a whole lot more exposed when I realised they were 109s. The in-game anti-aliasing isn't good and it doesn't seem to work at all if set in the Nvidia drivers - must try Nvidia Inspector - so it's harder than it should be even to see that these three had visible dihedral, which 109s (and Spitfires) do, but Hurricanes don't.


I didn't especially want to wipe out my CloD persona in a suicidal attack;  I suppose the campaign must have succeeded in creating at least some sense of attachment between us. But then I thought, the reportedly-poor CloD AI probably means these three are rookies, ready meat for a surprise attack. I'll get one on the first pass if they don't spot me (as they usually seem to do in 'original' IL-2) and that would leave me odds of only two to one and a sporting chance of getting away.


Well, they didn't spot me until I opened fire on the fellow on the right, but I didn't knock him down, either. He evaded not too clumsily and I broke away, now seriously fearful for my virtual neck. But all he seemed to want to do was rejoin formation. And all the other two seemed to want to do was let him. I'd heard the CloD AI seems to get fixated on its mission script even to the detriment of self-preservation. So it seems to be.


These AI people are asking for it, I thought, so I let them have it again. The Hurricane is slower than 109s at all levels but I had no bother catching them up again. This time I shot 'my' 109 out of formation. You can't really see it in the pic below, but by this stage, he'd jettisoned his canopy, prior to hitting the silk.


At this point the dozy AI 'rediscovered honour'. As I was levelling out, a stream of tracer flashed over my own canopy from somewhere directly behind. Boy, did I break hard. I only just pulled out before hitting the drink, in fact. Quite a scare, I got.

I think the 109 above me in the next pic is the one who nearly did for me.


That was it, though. I threw in a few more breaks, but never saw the Huns again. If you wanted to be charitable about the AI, you could put this down to being near to home and/or short of fuel, I suppose. So I'm not reaching a verdict on the AI until I have a bit more evidence.

It was a long way home and apart from the odd jink, I flew straight and level, taking some time to admire my kite and the scenery from outside.



One noticeable feature of the CloD Hurricane is that it replicates the fin being angled a few degrees to port from the centreline, to counteract torque or swing presumably. The next picture, from a free-flight mission, shows this reasonably clearly. Hard to tell if it's a bit overdone, or just right.


At this point I decided to turn on the mini-map, to check a suspicion that my compass repeater was misreading. Which it seems to be, showing about 310 degrees when I'm heading due north per the map. Magnetic variation, if modelled, can't be that much. Is it a bug, does it affect all planes, is there a fix or do you have to swing or set your own compass? Something I'll have to check. 


Anyhow, I made it home to Tangmere, managing to make out some of the others on the R/T asking for landing clearance. I asked too, but was ignored, so got in via my new friend, the curved approach. The active runway as in previous missions from this field ran about north-south, so I'm not sure if wind direction is modelled, the UK being noted for prevailing westerlies.

The post-mission stats confirmed my 109, with another one (presumably the first attacked) quite badly damaged, and the one knocked down seemingly double counted, as that, and damaged. However, 111 (the first squadron to get Hurricanes) had taken a bit of a beating. Where they came into this I have no idea. The text debrief made no mention of them, but it didn't miss the opportunity for some more socialist propaganda, with our upper-crust boys barely deigning to talk to the grateful but presumably middle class chaps in 257, whom we had apparently rescued.  


Battle of Britain 2 - Wings of Victory it ain't. More like the Battle of Britain, Jim, but not as we know it. That said, I'm still here, and I'm still coming back for more, so it can't be all bad. 

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      In The Beginning
      The name invokes certain feelings in flight simmers. For the last 18 months, those feelings have generally been a mix of rage and disappointment, judging from the comments from the online community. Using "Il-2 Sturmovik" for a sim which has not only no Il-2 Sturmoviks in it, but not even any Russian planes (aside from the recent addition of the non-WWII Su-26), is an attempt to trade on the reputation of the series before it. The original name, Storm of War: Battle of Britain, would've been more appropriate. I suppose Ubisoft felt they needed the extra marketing muscle, but it didn't matter. The retitled acronym for the sim, CloD, turned out strangely prophetic.
      The release in the West in July 2011 was a mess. Quite frankly it wasn't even a beta, it was an alpha. There have been multiple patches, official and beta, with the last official release in Sept 2011. Now the "final" (more about that in a bit) CloD patch is here. Everything that is going to be changed or fixed has been. At $30 on Steam, is it worth the asking price for those who don't have it? For those who do, does it deserve a second look? Read on my fellow suffering simmers...
      What The Sim Is
      CloD has both offline and online play. Offline is simply not up to the standards set by the previous Il-2 titles. Two scripted campaigns, a few single missions, and a dozen or so quick missions are all that you are given. The single and quick missions have some inaccuracies, but are generally fine if you're not overly picky. There is an RAF campaign and a Luftwaffe campaign. The RAF one is a sad attempt at having a storyline and its reach exceeds its grasp. The consensus is you shouldn't bother with its historical anachronisms and the bizarre "Spitfire girl" scenario. There are better free RAF campaigns to play instead. The Luftwaffe one is better, but not amazingly so. It's a decent representation of the German side of the BoB with the ability to fly multiple types, but it has no real cohesion. You're not proceeding chronologically, it's more "here are some 109 missions" followed by "here are some Ju-87 missions". If you want to like it, you probably will. If you're expecting a great campaign experience, you probably won't. There are also the quick and full mission builders for those who want to go the do-it-yourself route, although I've always preferred to play others' missions to my own. Something is always inadequate about any I've made for myself.

      There's also a good little training module more or less teaching you to fly in the Tiger Moth. It's good for what it offers, much better than the previous Il-2 sims had. You won't spend too much time there, there are only half a dozen scenarios teaching things from takeoff to landing to spin recovery, but it will be a good experience while it lasts. It's purely about flying, no combat is included.

      Online was supposed to consist of coop and massive dogfight missions, like the previous Il-2 releases. So much for that plan.
      While the original release and early patches made MP a frustrating affair, the final patch has smoothed it out. There are several servers that are regularly teeming with players in massive dogfight arenas, getting the most out of what CloD offers. I'd dare say the bulk of the developer's attentions were spent on this mode and it shows. There are several large servers out there supporting dozens of players, and if you liked this in Il-2 before, you'll like it here as well.
      Coop is another matter. It doesn't work like it did in older Il-2 games. It doesn't work like in most other sims. Usually, it doesn't work. Some enterprising and determined community members have tried to cobble together a way to fly coop in CloD, consisting of using "dummy" planes and other sleights of hand, but it's a pale substitute for what the title should have had out-of-the-box, or at least after a final patch...namely at least what the original Il-2 in 2001 offered. If this is what you want CloD for, don't waste your time. Remember the great experiences, starting with Il-2 Forgotten Battles, of either single missions or a dynamic campaign in coop? Cherish those memories. Or load up Il-2: 1946 or its predecessors. Don't look to CloD.
      The World of CloD

      So how does CloD look? Overall excellent, with several exceptions. The planes and cockpits are flawless. The lighting on and in them is wondrous as you turn and dive, changing the angle of the sun. There is a slider for weathering and its amazing how much it adds to the overall effect. I can't imagine anyone would be displeased with the cockpits, they set a new standard. The damage looks great, albeit not as good as it was before. For performance enhancement reasons, in the last patches the level of detail was reduced. That applies to all the graphics in CloD, actually...the unpatched and unplayable slow and buggy release version looked better for the most part. It still is as good as any other out there, it's just no longer clearly the best. This is most clearly seen in the terrain. The terrain is ok. Better than the older Il-2s, on a par with DCS, but not quite up to Rise of Flight. The weather has a meager implementation aside from a nice little frosting of the windows in clouds. While time of day is done well, there just isn't that dynamic weather that was discussed during the sim's development, and even the static weather is simple. What clouds exist are certainly not best-in-class. Compared to older Il-2, it's somewhat better, but CloD's level has been surpassed by other sims.

      Now to be clear, all this is with the graphics at top levels. On my i7-2600k/GTX570/4 GB RAM Win 7 64-bit machine, I'm satisfied overall with how the sim looks and flies. The performance is as good as say ROF without making odd tweaks to my system or the game files to achieve it. One jarring exception is FSAA. The sim has an option for it, but it really doesn't make much difference. While on the positive side it barely affects performance, on the negative side it barely affects the visuals! Instead, I have the in-game FSAA off and turned on FXAA in my nVidia driver panel (because forcing FSAA on there didn't work either). I'm not sure if AMD owners have SMAA or a similar option in their drivers as I've not had an AMD card in a couple of years now, but FXAA gives the best improvement in appearance/performance hit tradeoff for my system.

      Artificial Myopia
      The AI in CloD is not an improvement over the Il-2s that came before. Perhaps if you specify "when X happens" you can point out an improvement here or a lesser reaction there, but overall I'd say the AI is more or less the same. Those who found the AI in Il-2's gone by lackluster performers will have a similar reaction here. The increased tendency to sit ALMOST on a target's six and then fire the entire ammo load, missing by a wingspan or more, is certainly a worsening of the old AI behavior. What seemed to then happen only on occasion is now a regular routine. In fact, the best way to avoid getting shot down by the AI is to get them on your six and fly straight-and-level while they run out of ammo. Then you turn around and chase them down, and as they will often RTB on some sort of autopilot in that case it's very easy to drop on THEIR six and take them out.
      Friendly AI is abominable, as always in the Il-2 series. Radio commands to them are an exercise in futility. If you enjoy getting attacked by the enemy while your wingmen watch mutely, only to have them bravely charge in and deliver the coup de grace as you hammer away at an enemy's six, robbing you of the gratification, then look no further than CloD!

      The Planes
      CloD has a decent array of planes that fought in the Battle of Britain. It unusually includes a couple of Italian planes, and likewise excludes a few more-pertinent-to-the-conflict planes like the Do17. It has as flyable:
      Bf109E1,3/3b, and 4/4b
      Blenheim IV
      Hurricane DH5-20/Rotol
      Spitfire I/II/IIa
      Tiger Moth
      Su26 (or more aptly named Sir Not Appearing In This War)

      In the AI-only list, we have:
      Avro Anson
      Bristol Beaufighter

      I'm not what many would define as a hardcore simmer (any more, 15 years ago was another life). I don't really care if the Spit IIa's time to climb is 10% too slow, or the speed at which a 109E's wings rip off is 10% too low. I just care that every plane is relatively the same; that all the planes time to climbs are 10% too large or whatever. If the 109E errs 10% high and the Spit is 10% below, that means the historical comparison between the two is blown. As long as they're both wrong in the same direction, the relative performance differences will be maintained.
      I'm not flying time trials or other test pilot stuff, I'm a combat pilot. I want tactics that worked in the war to work here, and tactics that failed to fail here. I don't want to see a plane that got nowhere in the war be an F-16 in comparison to its contemporaries! The rest is rivet-counting fluff that doesn't affect actual gameplay. If my top speed is 30kt too low, but so is my adversary's, I'm fine with that.

      If I'm flying a plane that should be able to boom and zoom my adversary's plane, it better not be slower! If I'm flying a nimble dogfighter that relied on agility because it had a low top speed, I better not outrun him! The previous Il-2s had some planes that were "off" in that respect, the Pacific Fighters stable being generally the worst offenders. Chase my P-38 down in a Zero will you??
      CloD seems to avoid this by and large. I've read reports that some find the Stuka TOO good, or that these planes' ceilings are too low, these planes wallow where they should soar, etc. Personally I've not experienced that, with the caveat that while I have hundreds of hours in the Il-2 series, I've only been able to put about 10 hrs into CloD. I just haven't been able to muster the desire to do more than that yet, honestly. So it's possible there are FM weaknesses I will take note of with more flight time that have yet to rear their heads.
      A pleasant improvement over older Il-2s is the armament. While before every MG was a .22 at best and every cannon shell a virtual grenade, in CloD you can actually shoot down a 109 with nothing but .303s and still have plenty of ammo left over. You can even get several if you're both lucky and frugal with your trigger. The cannons are indeed more powerful, but not overpowerful. Combined with the strides forward in damage modeling, it means you can expect to actually fall to an enemy's MGs but not instantly shatter under their cannons.

      Sound, UI, and Other Bits
      The Sept 2011 patch redid the sound coding for CloD, and it's a vast improvement. Il-2 always had poor sound, and CloD's was actually worse. It's now better than Il-2 ever was. Real engine sounds were sampled and instead of being offensive it is now quite pleasing to the ear. Provided you enjoy the roar of a Merlin, of course. The sound is now one of the highlights of CloD.
      The UI is what we've come to expect from 21st century sims...bare bones, utilitarian, and serviceable. It's a backhanded compliment to say "the UI isn't a trainwreck", but really the most positive way I can describe it is "it works." Not confusing, clearly laid out, but ultimately sterile. Still, it will not hinder your simming experience, it just does nothing to enhance it.
      Like its forebears, CloD has Complex Engine Management for those who yearn to do it "like the pilots". It's modeled here in all its complex glory for those who enjoy tweaking their engine and prop configuration for optimal performance in a given flight regime. A confession: I don't care for it. I've heard all the arguments, that it's more "real" to have to contend with flying AND fighting, that it's possible to get the plane to perform better than with the engine on auto, and so on. It's just not for me. I prefer to imagine I'm doing all those things on a "personal autopilot", as those who've driven a car with manual transmission will attest to...you just do it without thinking about it. I'm sure if I had as many hours to dedicate to flying WWII sims as I spent driving a stick shift I could learn those mixtures and prop settings just as well. However, I do not. I let the sim do for it me and concentrate my time on what I enjoy doing--flying the plane and fighting the enemy. Stalls, spins, torque, and wind and turbulence are plenty for me to feel it's real enough. As I said, I'm not what would now be considered a hardcore simmer. I was one in the 90s, when the sims had less to learn and I was either in school or freshly out. My life has changed, and so have my simming habits! To those who scoff and look down their nose because they "let the computer do it", I say back off. It's not your job to decide how others enjoy their sims. Sim and let sim.
      End of the CloD
      This last patch was final. There will be no more patches for CloD. Maybe if something is found horribly broken there will be some hotfix, but be assured there will be no more major fixes or changes. 1C has moved on to the sequel, likely to be Battle of Moscow, although as always plans could change. According to 1C, the next time CloD will be updated is when the sequel is installed on top of it. Any features not here now will not appear till then at the earliest, and it will not be free. On the plus side, the sequel will either integrate with CloD (allowing all fixes to back-port to CloD) or it will have all CloD's content inside it in some way allowing you to fly it inside the new sim.

      So for those of you who bought the sim a year or more back and have been waiting for the definitive fix, go ahead and try it again. If you've been waiting for this patch to buy, how you feel about it will likely depend on what you expect from it. If you spend your time on servers online flying with and against other humans, chances are you will be satisfied with CloD's state. I won't say "thrilled" necessarily, again your expectations may vary, but CloD is now capable of succeeding Il-2 in the online dogfight arena. I'd say $30 for a product you'll probably spend 100+ hrs in is a great value. If you can find it cheaper elsewhere, I'd say you'd get even better value.
      If your interest is in offline or coop online play, the verdict is different. Minimal offline content and what is there is of questionable value. There are the mission builders if you want to make missions yourself, but personally I've never enjoyed missions I make myself. Others make them, some for free, so go ahead and look online for some, but quality of course varies. There are payware campaigns from Desastersoft that many find worth the money, especially for the features it adds on top of just good missions. It does require spending more for CloD, of course, but it will give you the single player experience that a top end BoB sim would be expected to offer.
      Coop? Well frankly it's broken. For a feature I used more than any other in Il-2, from 2001 to the present, to be in such a state was particularly hard for me to bear. We won't be seeing a fix for it in CloD, although if you decide to get the successor you might have some hope. Here are the words from the developers themselves on the issue:
      "Redoing co-op is a huge task. We are a business. We have to make a profit somewhere somehow. We cannot keep pumping resources and releasing free patches for Cliffs of Dover forever.
      And regarding not using our products in the future if we do not redo co-op now. I believe the majority in this community actually will. If we offer a much more comprehensive co-op experience in a future product, and especially if such an experience still allows you a trip back in time to fly some Spits and 109s over the Channel, well, I really hope that most people will want to get the sequel.
      To reiterate - I've never said that we'll never address co-op, I've only said we cannot do it within the Cliffs of Dover project."
      So there it is, the nonfunctional coop will never work in CloD without buying another product from 1C to enhance or supplant it.

      Unlike some in the community, I've never hated CloD, I've just gone from "profound disappointment" to "disappointment." Il-2 was a classic, despite its flaws (which IMO were many, from some quirky FMs for certain radial planes like the Fw190 and P-47 to the maddening friendly and enemy AI), because of everything it had and did right. CloD is now a decent WWII sim...and it will never graduate beyond "decent". Poor to lackluster campaigns, a smattering of single missions that are nothing special, broken coop MP. The online dogfighters and mission makers will likely be satisfied. What will happen with sequels/addons/integration with CloD may make it better if you spend more money on it, but as is it's well...forgettable.
      It's not the film you see on Saturday and spend the next week raving about (how good or how awful it was), it's the one where you start thinking about dinner before the credits roll, and come Wednesday have a hard time recalling what the details were when someone asks you!

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