Genre : Arcade/Flight Sim
Developer : Totally Games
Publisher : LucasArts
Release Date : November 18, 2003
Pre-order 'SECRET WEAPONS OVER NORMANDY': PC
I’m a fan of arcade flight sims such as After Burner and Ace Combat, so I jumped at the chance to preview LucasArts’ upcoming flight simulator, Secret Weapons over Normandy. There has been an excess of World War II-themed games lately, so what sets this game apart from the crowd? Let’s find out!
The basic premise behind the game is that you must fly the expanse of your country and complete the set of number historical missions that have taken place during the WW2. At your disposal, you have the latest aircraft technology of the era. Since this is more of an arcade simulator than your realistic Falcon 4.0 flight simulator, the focus was on the fun dog-fighting aspect instead of the realistic limitations such as g-force, etc. That’s not to say that the realistic factors are completely absent from the game, as you do have to reduce speed to make tighter turns and you have limited ammunition.
The missions are pretty basic; you must complete your objectives, whether that entails a bombing raid or air combat. Most, if not all, of the missions are of historical purpose so the game kind of gives you a history lesson while you play. The maps themselves are quite expansive, contain multiple objectives, and are packed full of enemies. The AI is no pushover; some of the best fighter pilots were part of the Luftwaffe and the Japanese Navy. You will encounter some of the best from both sides and even on a difficulty setting of “easy,” you will have a challenge on your hands. If the AI skill doesn’t get you, the sheer number of enemies will so it would be wise to watch your back. You do have wingmen by the way, so it’s not completely you-versus-the-world.
The graphics engine used in Secret Weapons over Normandy is pretty good. The plane models and textures are taken straight from their real-life counterparts, and to view them is a total gem. The details are very clear, and you can even make out markings on the wings, engines and tail wing. The surrounding environment and the objects contained therein are also very nicely detailed. The water moves and shimmers, you see the mist as you fly through fog and clouds, planes smoke when heavily damaged, and the terra firma all look accurate as far as I can tell. I wasn’t there, so who knows.
This game has solid audio in all departments. Any flight simulator, whether real or arcade, must have some sort of decent audio, and this LucasArts offering doesn’t let you down. Planes whine while dive bombing, anti-aircraft fire explodes all around you, and you definitely know when there is a bogey on your six. Your wingmen do talk to you and each other, so you have the pleasure of hearing the radio chatter of your brothers in arms. As for the music, I really didn’t pay too much attention because I was too busy blowing Nazis out of the sky, but as with all good games, I’m sure there is a soundtrack.
Overall, the controls and their response are excellent. The control scheme to this is a bit more involved than the other arcade flight sims I have played. You control your pitch, roll, and yaw with the analogs, but your speed and rudders are left to the L and R buttons. Weapons are left up to the buttons for your mashing pleasure. Depending on the plane you choose, the controls are a bit more or less responsive, but not by much.
Despite the overwhelming presence of war-themed games in the market, I had a lot of fun with Secret Weapons over Normandy, and I hope you will too. Simple war games are a dime a dozen these days, but a good flight simulator based on those bygone days is a nice change of pace. Be sure to check out this title when it hit the shelves!
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