|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Transmission Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 15, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
February 10, 2009 - World War II (WWII) has become a very popular backdrop for video games in recent history. With the slew of first-person shooters constantly being set during this war, most gamers have become pretty fluent in many of WWII's ground battles. However, slightly less revisited are this classic war's aerial encounters, which can help to provide a different perspective of combat during this era as well as a good gameplay alternative to scoring yet another headshot with an M1 Garand. Fortunately, later this year we'll be getting another chance to take to the hectic WWII skies in the upcoming Heroes Over Europe.
Made by the same folks that brought us Heroes of the Pacific on the last generation of consoles, Heroes Over Europe will cover many of the historical European aerial battles during WWII. In fact, each mission in the game will actually be based entirely on factual historical events. Players will take on the role of several different Allied pilots during the course of the game's story, which starts off with the German bombing of London and ends with the bombing of Berlin. Throughout the story, players will also have the chance to get behind the flight sticks of over forty Allied aircraft ranging anywhere from the Mustang to the B17 Flying Fortress.
While players will no doubt be called upon to take the game's bombers on various missions that call for dropping payloads of death from above, the main focus of this game will be centered around aerial combat. However, this type of fighting was much different in WWII than it would be nowadays. Most modern video games that involve dogfighting contain equipment that allows for enemy tracking, locking onto planes, and heat-seeking destruction. In keeping with historical accuracy, these things weren't available to pilots at that time, so players will also not be afforded these luxuries.
The lack of these "standard" flight game abilities help to make Heroes Over Europe a fairly unique experience among airborne shooters. Since you won't get blips telling you exactly where your foes are located and can't just let your weaponry find them for you, players will actually need to pay close attention to the skies around them. Once an enemy has been spotted, keeping them in front of your plane and in the middle of your sights can be incredibly challenging but is absolutely necessary in order to be victorious.
Attempting to do this can lead to visual games of cat and mouse with foes, both pilots utilizing everything they can to their own advantages. For example, flying your Spitfire between an enemy and the sun will result in temporarily blinding them, hopefully allowing you time to shake them and regain the upper hand. You could also use this or another distraction to hide behind some nearby clouds, due to the lack of any kind of radar, and wait for the right time to strike back. Of course, the A.I. will also utilize these same tactics, so the quicker you can take out enemy planes the better.
This is where the fairly simplistic plane handling and Ace Kills come into play. The controls in Heroes Over Europe aren't overly complex and, as such, are easy to pick up and become accustomed to. Moving the right stick up and down controls your speed, while left and right will produce rolls in their respective directions. On the other hand, the left stick is in charge of diving, climbing, and your plane's rudder. Add in the triggers to utilize weapons and that is all you'll need to remember.
However, if you're looking for something to help further turn the tide of a battle in your favor, look no farther than the Ace Kill mechanic. By successfully shadowing an enemy plane and keeping your guns trained on them, a meter surrounding your aiming reticule will fill. Once filled, this meter can be used to enter what is essentially airborne bullet time. As everything slows to a crawl, players can zoom in and target specific parts of their enemies' planes such as their engines, wings, or even their pilots. If used properly, this Ace Kill meter can be used to one-hit kill much of your opposition throughout the game.
Visually, Heroes Over Europe is already starting to look good. Many of the areas used in the game have been realistically recreated, such as the cities of London and Berlin, down to their famous structures. That means players can expect to fly past WWII era renditions of the likes of Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Brandenburg Gate during their travels. This title is also host to some impressive weather effects, making those games of cloud-based peek-a-boo all the more satisfying with the aid of falling rain or snow. Players will even be able to customize the color, decals, and insignias on their aircraft, at least when playing in multiplayer.
While full details haven't been disclosed yet, Heroes Over Europe will indeed come with a multiplayer component in addition to its single-player campaign. There will be four different modes that allow for up to sixteen players to compete at a time. Beyond that these modes are really anyone's guess, although I would probably expect dogfighting to play a major role in most, if not all of the included modes. So, if you are looking for an excuse to put down your M1 Garand, still want to kill Nazis, and like dogfighting in realistic planes over accurately recreated WWII era cities, Heroes Over Europe looks like it was made specifically for you. Still, if even one of these aspects sounds interesting to you, you might want to keep an eye on this title as its release date approaches.
CCC Staff Contributor