Sea Dragon’s is a Scripted Campaign that comes with IL-2: Battle of Kuban so this review isn’t one that will convince you if this Scripted Campaign is worth your hard-earned cash, but rather a preview of what the experience is and if its worth your time. With that in mind, let’s have a look at Sea Dragons!
Thar’ Be Dragons
There are no actual dragons in this campaign but there are plenty of IL-2s flying low over the water. In Sea Dragons you’ll be flying in a naval IL-2 unit pretty close to the action in most of the missions. Some missions have you flying only a few dozen kilometers to target and back making for some really quick action.
The skies over Novorossiysk and Gelendzhik Bay in the first two-thirds of the campaign are almost constantly filled with friendly and enemy aircraft all on their own missions making for an immersive experience as far as IL-2 campaigns go.
BlackSix, the author of the campaign, provides a typical experience with a good amount of detail around your base and near targets. There are extremely well written and clear mission briefings plus a background story telling you how your pilot is doing and giving you a sense of the often dire and desperate straits that the unit and the whole front is in.
Driving the enemy back, pushing the missions forward
As the campaign progresses, you move up the coast and the missions take a more dramatic turn. The best part of this campaign are the more unique opportunities like attacking a harbor facility, hunting a ship convoy at dawn as the sun comes up over the nearby mountains, and a particularly intense firefight over an artillery/armor/vehicle concentration just north of Novorossiysk.
The biggest downside to some of the missions are the sometimes-repetitive nature of the missions themselves. It’s a difficult balance of historical reality and gameplay variety that may attract some with the brutal grinding nature of some of the missions. Needing to hit the same positions again and again as friendly troops slowly push forward has a slightly demoralizing effect – so too it must have been for pilots who faced far greater dangers than our pixel pushing selves.
The campaign may occasionally feel repetitive, but it rarely lasts for too long before an interesting mission is mixed in and I feel that this does a pretty good job of balancing the grim reality with player interest.
I would have loved to see a few more interesting mission types thrown in as I never got a chance to use PTAB bomblets or the NS-37 cannons – though these may have been historical considerations.
I did sometimes face trouble with the AI crashing into the ground (sometimes on mass) particularly later in the campaign when I was the flight leader. That annoyance aside, the AI coped well with a variety of different targets and up against some serious fighter and flak opposition.
A great campaign for the ground attack enthusiast
If you’ve thoroughly enjoyed flying the IL-2 in the past, then this campaign will satisfy your needs to fly the IL-2 in a whole variety of scenarios. Your skills as a “mud mover” will be tested with plenty of opportunities for attack missions.
Aside from the aforementioned occasional lack of variety, Sea Dragons fires everything it has and provides a consistent and enjoyable campaign experience. I love the progression of the campaign as front lines slowly move and the seasons change. It makes you feel part of the campaign and gives you an overview of the whole Kuban battle from the perspective of a single IL-2 pilot.
That’s the kind of stuff that I love to see as part of the big picture of the campaign and Sea Dragons captures it brilliantly.
I lost more than a few IL-2s to flak and needed to reply the odd mission. It’s important to stick to task and not go off looking for too much trouble or you’ll find yourself facing more flak or enemy fighters than you can handle.
If you like ground attack missions, Sea Dragons is probably the Scripted Campaign you want to play. If, on the other hand, you’re only interested in fast moving fighter-missions then this may not provide the kind of high octane excitement that you want. There is still plenty of excitement to go around but it’s a little more methodical and planning your attack and then making it happen successfully can be lots of fun.
A fun, high quality, ground attacker experience can be found in this campaign and I strongly recommend it.
After action report
- Sorties: 15
- Planes: 5 light, 7 parked
- Vehicles: 34 transport, 4 light armored
- Artillery: 40 cannons, 31 AAA guns
- Marine: 3 light