Epic, Exhilirating... IL-2 Sturmovik delivers.
I find the dogfighting and the strafing to be far easier than Heroes, despite the loss of the sweet ace kill feature. For one, bullets are deadly. In fact if you clip a plane there is a chance the damage you inflict can worsen and cause the plane to crash later. Add to that competent wingmen that you can issue orders to and success can be as easy as targeting a foe and issuing a command.
There are occasionally camera troubles. At certain angles bombing can be a gussing game when other times you can count on a red reticule to let you know exactly when to drop. It's all in the angle of approach. The only other gripe I have is the tailgunner portion. In a bomber you can actually take over the tailgunner's position to fend off attackers. The only problem is you're still the pilot too and now your controls are reversed. This is a major headache for me and I found myself shifting back to pilots view and just diving straight down before switching back and strafing them from below.
Action is INTENSE. Streaking through literally hundreds of enemy bombers and dropping them like flies whilst you navigate debris and try to see through oil on your cockpit is exhilerating and EPIC to say the least. Everything you can see exists in this world; the bow lines on ships and the cables attached to target dirigibles? Really there. Fly through them with a wing and that wing will likely come off. Everything you see has real physics behind it. Blast a plane into pieces and fly though the debris cloud and you're likely to have a piece of fuselage or a wing bounce off of your plane with potentially disasterous results. This danger increases exponentially with harder modes.
The narrative is told through the diary entries of various pilots of the Allied forces. RAF, US, and Soviet pilots and planes are all represented but if you're looking for German aircraft then you'll have to shift to the Multiplayer. Multiplayer offers a Free-For-All, Team Dogfight, a mode where you must destroy enemy targets on the ground while defending your own, and finally one where you must capture enemy airfields by actually landing and securing a strip. That last mode sounds like an aerial version of capture the base and, given that the pilot on the ground is a sitting duck, also sounds like the most exciting.
Overall I am blown away by IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey. I had so many HOLY CRAP moments while playing it. Incredible title for those who love flight sims.