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Heroes over Europe

Imagine being a fighter pilot in World War II. It was – to coin the biggest understatement this side of Wall Street bosses telling traders they might need to have a few quiet nights in – daunting. Your plane is made of plywood, you can’t fly upside down too long for fear of stalling the engine and there’s every chance some German pilot will have perforated your parachute just prior to your requiring it. Always happens.

But then imagine you had Bullet Time! God, it’d be skill. The Germans would have no idea what was putting holes in their wings as you flashed about the skies like a Spitfire-bound ninja. That’s exactly what Heroes over Europe does, bless its Union Jack socks. And even if you, in a wafer-thin Mosquito, find yourself pitted against enemies in jet planes, you’ve got unlimited rockets. The Luftwaffe doesn’t stand a chance. Those Allies really missed a trick 60 years ago.

Most of the missions concentrate on dogfights, hence the heavy preference for classic fighters in the list of 40 Allied aircraft. Handling is appreciably different for each aircraft – the giant B-17 Flying Fortress isn’t something you’d want to go dive-bombing in, lest you end up nose-down in the English Channel. Similarly, the antiquated (even in 1939) Swordfish is not a plane likely to strike fear into the hearts of Me109 pilots. Controls are simple enough, which is just as well - we’re staying well clear of simulation territory here.

As you line up a bead on an enemy aircraft, a ring surrounding your targeting reticule slowly fills. This is an adrenaline meter and once full it allows you to enter that Bullet Time mode. Individual sections of a target can then be hit (wings, fuselage, even the pilot) and with the one-shot kill complete, you can quickly switch to the next target.

Spanning from the beginning of WWII and running through to the final bombing raids over Germany, this looks like solid, unspectacular, nostalgic fare. At the moment, certain aspects of the visuals are looking rough around the edges, with some pop-in and iffy textures, though that can easily be cleaned up in time for its March release.

Jan 28, 2009

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