Birds of Steel, by Konami, 2012, $39.99 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Birds of Steel is an excellent flight combat simulation game featuring more than 100 aircraft from World War II. It centers on 20 historical operations and hundreds of missions over 16 locations, including Wake Island and Pearl Harbor. The developers have painstakingly rendered each plane down to the cockpit controls. Each handles realistically, though you can adjust the difficulty setting. Arcade mode lets you dogfight with impunity, while realistic and simulator modes force you to actually fly the plane—climbing without stalling, retaining control in abrupt turns and aiming by sight alone, all while monitoring your fuel and ammunition.
As you progress in your missions, you’ll unlock such extras as historical paint jobs, kill markings, nose art and roundels. Konami offers two downloadable content packs for purchase, each offering new planes, maps and combat operations. While Birds of Steel may not be the best available historical flight sim, it is the most accessible to players of any skill level.