WarBirds 2016 – World War II Combat Aviation – Review
Follow Genre: Combat Flight Simulator, Multiplayer
Developer: iEntertainment Network
Publisher: iEntertainment Network
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

WarBirds 2016 – World War II Combat Aviation – Review

Site Score
Good: Authentic flight simulator, extensive online multiplayer content
Bad: Outdated graphics, limited solo play value
User Score
(8 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.1/10 (8 votes cast)

“WarBirds 2016 – World War II Combat Aviation” is the latest update in a game that was first released to market in 1995 – an aeon in terms of video gaming history. Flying historical planes from the various theatres of the second world war still has a strong appeal even more than 70 years after the conflict. How does WarBirds 2016 shape up to the modern day gaming environment?



There is really no story in WarBirds 2016. The most structured approach to the game would be to run through the tutorials and then step through the Instant Action scenarios. Despite the title of the game focusing on aerial warfare, you can also drive tanks in ground combat and control anti-aircraft guns in sea combat.

The real meat of the game is the Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) feature. You can team up with other flyers and fly sorties against other players on the ground and in the air. Voice chat via a free add-on component is part of the game, and at certain times of the day online instructors are available to help you improve your flying skills.


Unfortunately the quality of the graphics are not up to the standards of a game bearing the version number 2016. To be frank, the sophistication of the graphics is pretty much of the vintage of the game – late 90s. There is no getting around the fact that landscapes are low on detail and far from the level of realism expected of a contemporary game. The planes themselves are rendered in reasonable detail, but the competition does it a lot better.

Navigation through the user interface can be frustrating. Menus feel unpolished and are non-Windows conforming, so it takes some time to overcome the muscle memory you gain from using Windows programs.


While airports are mapped correctly, the landscape looks pretty much the same everywhere. The white cliffs of Dover are not terribly white, and Malta looks green and unpopulated with no urban areas. The landscaping of the ports of Cherbourg and Dover are full of ugly straight lines and do not look very natural. Despite the realism of the flight mechanics, the environments snap you out of any feeling of a virtual reality.

On the positive side, WarBirds 2016 does not need a high end gaming rig to run at maximum quality. A DirectX 9.0 compatible graphics card is required and as that version was introduced in 2002, most existing hardware should be able to handle the game with ease.  On a decent budget gaming rig there are no lags or framerate hiccoughs, essential for the online combat experience where a half second lag can mean the difference between living hero or dead zero.


Some effort has gone into making the different planes sound distinctive. There is a clear difference between different aircraft types, and a twin engined aircraft and a single engined plane can be told apart easily with closed eyes. However there is some polish missing – the sound of the plane is the same whether the external or internal views are being used. Also, in the external view, zooming in and out should cause the sound of the plane’s engine and propeller to increase and decrease with distance – this does not happen, breaking some of the feeling of reality.


Things don’t work out so well for the ground vehicles. In particular one of the trucks sounds like it has a propeller. Explosions however go off with a satisfying boom.


WarBirds 2016 is a combat flight simulator that aims for a high degree of realism. The gameplay is definitely biased towards realism rather than an arcade style game. Elements of the game include tutorials, instant action scenarios, mission builders and online multiplayer play.

The tutorials are helpful for getting used to the controls used for the game – the keyboard functions for flight simulators always seem to be different. Apart from the in-game tutorials, there are links to YouTube tutorial videos under the username WarBirdsTotalSims. You can find a pdf file of the keyboard bindings with a quick google search. A 10 year old Thrustmaster joystick worked first time with this game – no setups were needed. This is not the case with some other flight sims where careful customization may be required.

While useful to get familiarised with the controls used in WarBirds, the tutorials sometimes glitsched. During an autoland procedure you are invited to use the flight controls to come out of autoland mode and use the Land button to resume autoland. Unfortunately the land button is missing – neither the manuals or a google search revealed where this button should be. If you then crash the plane in flames, the tutorial instructor will congratulate you on a great landing! To be fair, most flight sim tutorials do not handle script deviations well.


There are 20 Instant Action scenarios covering air, sea and land conflict, where you can pitch your skills against AI opponents. You can also create your own missions based on 28 different area maps. Some of these are huge. For the Battle of Britain fans, the Blitz map covers southern England and Belgium. There are two maps that cover the whole of Europe (one original, one updated) for budding tourists. Other theatres of war include Pearl Harbor, Korea and North Africa.

The Instant Action and Mission Editor modes cover solo play. Beyond this there is a large MMO online component.

For online flight you first have to prove your skills by shooting down various planes and Zeppelins over Malta. Once your score is sufficient, then you are allowed to join the online arena. The largest and most popular flight arena covers the Visayan Islands in the Philippines. This can be a lonely place during European waking hours, while America sleeps and works. The other online arenas cover the Crimea, Belgium and Malta.


The difficulty level during online sessions is set at realistic flight simulation mode, so that all competitors are playing at the same realism level. Under this mode, taking off and landing the aircraft are fraught with danger. Some aircraft are easier to handle than others – though the harder the aircraft is to get off the ground, the more powerful it tends to be in combat. Using a beginner friendly plane that you can get in the air easily unfortunately makes you a prime target for more experienced online pilots.

During online play only, the Exit Flight button disappears while you are in the air. There is no evident way to leave the online arena. Either you have to close the program or bale out of the aircraft. When you eject from the plane your pilot avatar gives out a horrified scream! The correct thing to do of course is to land the plane and then exit.


With the game purchased on Steam you get one month of online access for free. After that you will need to buy day or month passes to access the MMO arenas. The passes currently range from $2.99/day to $15.95/month. Prices are only quoted in US Dollars.

All planes and maps are included with the initial purchase – there is no additional DLC content to download or pay for.


The mission of “WarBirds 2016 – World War II Combat Aviation” is to mix the seriousness of a hardcore flight simulator with the fun of shooting down stuff in an MMO environment. As such it is a success. However the level of realism is heavily compromised by the outdated graphics engine, especially compared to the competition.

Solo play is limited by the lack of a career mode and after the first month of free access to the online MMO component (when purchased through Steam), the multiplayer feature is expensive. Recommended only for hard core simulator war combat fans.



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.1/10 (8 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
WarBirds 2016 - World War II Combat Aviation - Review, 7.1 out of 10 based on 8 ratings

1 Comment

    November 2, 2015, 23:34

    Thanks for the review! Would love u to come fly with the 4th Fighter Group on a combat mission with us! You need Teamspeak 3 to chat with the Squad! My email is jwstealey@ient.com.

    We are doing some graphic updates and would love your specific recommendations! Please provide us some ideas you think we should include in the update!

    Did you go into Settings/video Setting and choose Highest graphics quality, full 1980 by 1020 resolution, full ground details, and full screen when u flew? We set the graphics to low quality to start for best frame rates and encourage players to increase quality as they determine their machines have the graphics horsepower.

    Also choose the zvesta effects package for best tracers and explosions!

    We focus on good airborne visibility over short term arcade graphics! As Military Aviators and engineers seeing the enemy from longer ranges (longer than any other flight sim) is important to us!

    If you drop me an email I can set up a real mission for us!

    I look forward to flying with you!

    Wild Bill Stealey
    LT. Colonel, USAF Retired
    Founder MicroProse Software

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    0 people found this helpful
    Was this review helpful?
    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    0 people found this helpful
    Was this review helpful?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.