Reviewing ‘Ten Days of Autumn’

‘Ten Days of Autumn’ is the first Scripted Campaign to be released for the second generation IL-2 series and it serves as both an introduction to scripted campaigns as well as a superb example of how to do it right. This is my review of ‘Ten Days of Autumn’ for IL-2: Battle of Moscow.

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Parked on the airfield while flares mark the location of the field for other aircraft to land.

The Scripted Campaign system

Any review of this campaign should probably include a mention of the “new” Scripted Campaign system. This feature came together in the same patch with ‘Ten Days of Autumn’ so it is one of our first looks at this type of campaign in the series.

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The Scripted Campaign interface

Scripted Campaigns are fairly straightforward. Players progress through a series of scripted missions, each with their own briefing as well as a thumbnail image. The interface is simple but it works and it helps you progress quickly to your mission.

You can replay missions at any time and you can also start over again and work your way through the sequence.

The scripted aspect is down to the missions themselves. These are hand built mission where an author went through and scripted every way point, message and action. Its time consuming but when done well has a deliberate feel that you don’t get from more randomly generated missions.

Ten days on the front-lines

Ten Days puts you in I./JG 52 as the unit follows the front lines during October 1941. It also describes the halt of the German advance at Moscow as resistance stiffens. Your airfield frequently comes under bombardment and you really feel the tension of being on the front line.

Your aircraft is the Bf109F-2. It is one of the most capable fighters in the sky during this time period which puts you in a pretty good place. The F-2 is superior to most of your opponents at high altitudes, however, most of your missions are like they were in the history books – stuck at lower altitudes covering the army. That makes your Russian opposition that much more dangerous.

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Over the lakes district near Moscow.

Well written briefings draw you in

Ten Day’s briefings are detailed affairs with well written details describing the situation on the front, the conditions of the pilot in the unit, and background history that adds colour to the conflict.

The writing appears to be well researched reflecting not only the operations but the thoughts and feelings of your pilot. It’s written like a diary so you see the operations and the conflict through the eyes of that pilot.

And the missions

Black Six, 1C Game Studios employee and regular contributor on the forum, was responsible for the mission design and he proves that he is a true master of the art form.

Missions are extremely well scripted in my experience. I ran into a bug that several other players did where the mission was completed and all of the mission triggers appear to have been set, yet the mission ended in a failure. Aside from this one time, the experience was flawless. Future campaigns are said to have approached the mission end trigger differently and thus should avoid this altogether. As it is, it’s a rare thing.

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A Bf109F-2 in a treetop level fight

Missions are exciting but rarely are they predictable. You get a great variety of operations from fighter sweeps, operations providing cover for transports and bombers, and the odd recon mission. Some missions have surprise outcomes and one objective quickly turns to another.

I found the missions to be relatively easy to complete yet there were a few cases where I ran into trouble. In one mission a particularly pesky Pe-2 gunner hit me hard – it was my own fault for giving him such a nice easy target but that ended my day quickly. In another mission my successful attack on an IL-2 cause his wing to peel off and hit my propeller square on.

Another great aspect of these missions is the kinds of small details thrown in. There are plenty of friendly aircraft flying around at different points and you never feel like you’re fighting the war on your own. Flights of Bf109s or Ju52s fly overhead during takeoff and landing. You relieve and are relieved by friendly fighters on patrol missions of their own.

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Friendly aircraft are a frequent sight in this campaign.

The mission design never places you in especially impossible situations. You don’t get overwhelmed by swarms of fighters nor are the enemies hard to find.

Gun battles between opposing troops on the ground also show up frequently along the front lines adding another layer of immersion. Though you never interact with these gun battles, it does make it feel like there is a war going on as fire is exchanged back and forth and artillery open up on targets.

I’ve already mentioned it but its worth mentioning again – your base gets shelled frequently as nearby artillery tries to ruin your day. This appears to have been scripted so as to not interfere with your missions but its always so close that you can never be sure!

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Fires burn near your airfield as its continually shelled from nearby artillery batteries.

Visually beautiful

The missions themselves also showcase the Moscow map in a way that you will experience more randomly in the dynamically generated campaign. Black Six has clearly done work to ensure that the missions themselves have realistic and mood appropriate weather. Many of your missions take place under partial or full overcast days but then you get a day of bright sunshine. There are times where I’m still amazed by the visuals that this sim offers and these missions let you experience the full range – snow flurries even make an appearance.

Worth the price?

ten_days_autumn_newTen Days of Autumn isn’t free – you pay for this campaign which carries a price tag of $9.99 USD. So that begs the question, is it worth the price? In my opinion, if you are someone who values single player gaming and you really like to do that sort of thing, Ten Days of Autumn is definitely for you.

This campaign is a lot of fun to play. It has atmosphere and tension. Everything works really well too which means that you can mostly stop worrying about what the mission designer might have missed and just enjoy the ride. The missions are challenging but not impossible.

In summary, Ten Days of Autumn is very much a solid campaign and its 15 mission experience is just about worth the price. It doesn’t have branching missions or custom voice overs but it is otherwise a completely enjoyable experience. This campaign represents the beginning of the premium pay-for Scripted Campaigns (free options are out there too) and its not the last as Blazing Steppe has just been announced as the next campaign.

Want Ten Days of Autumn right now? Go visit the IL-2 store!

My personal score

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Over the course of 15 stories (not including my failed missions) and 4 hours and 30 minutes of flight time I managed 21 aerial victories and 20 vehicles destroyed plus 7 AAA batteries.

Media

We all love screen shots and I took a bunch while playing the campaign.

I took a good number of screen shots while playing through Ten Days of Autumn and I was also inspired to do my first IL-2 based cinematic called ‘Friedrich’ which uses parts of the ‘Ten Days of Autumn’ missions as the subject matter for the video. If you want to get a sense of what Ten Days is like… this may help!

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