Heroes Over Europe Preview
Flight games remain few and far between but aficionados are always on the lookout for new and promising titles. If you can’t have the latest Ace Combat, then you have to look elsewhere; in this case, you’ll have the option of taking to the chaotic skies of World War II in Heroes Over Europe, which is scheduled to arrive next month. Developer Transmission Games is clearly going for a combination of accessible yet semi-realistic flight mechanics and a truly authentic atmosphere. Clips of real war footage, pilot chatter across the intercom channels, the history and storylines of several fighter pilots, and an accomplished technical presentation should make for an appealing package. You will start in June 1940, where you will have a look at the war from the perspective of the Royal Air Force (RAF). One of the more attractive aspects of recent WWII flight experiences is the ability to step into the shoes of different pilots and countries, so to fly with the RAF in this game shouldn’t come as a surprise.
You’ll need to stay on your toes during the single-player missions, as they will not only take up large chunks of your time, but you’ll also have to adapt on the fly (forgive the pun). For example, say your initial goal is to simply perform a scouting mission of a certain area but halfway through your run, the invading forces cause you to scramble and defend the skies in a sudden pitched battle. This should add a significant sense of tenseness and urgency to the gameplay, so you had best gain a firm handle on the controls ASAP. As for the planes themselves, you can expect a wide variety of aerial machines, but you’ll likely have to unlock most of them as you progress through the campaign. Each plane will be rated for weapons, agility, armor, top speed, and agility, so you’ll have to make your decision carefully before embarking on a mission; “there’s a correct tool for every job,” as they say. Just bear in mind that once you’re up there, you had best be prepared.
If things prove too challenging, perhaps you’ll be better off utilizing the arcade set of controls rather than the professional option. Doesn’t that remind you of Gran Turismo? If you’re not so enamored with learning all the physical ins and outs of a fighter pilot and you just want to get up there and blow sh** up, you’ll definitely want to opt for the arcade controls. On the other hand, there are plenty of people out there who miss the likes of Microsoft Flight Simulator… Anyway, the inherent difficulty always revolves around the same concept, regardless of the control setup you choose: the enemy isn’t always the primary problem; the landscape can also cause issues, so you have to keep a close eye on both your surroundings and your roving targets. Furthermore, you can bet that your targets won’t always be winging around the skies, as there should be missions where you’ll be aiming at the ground, attempting to take out enemy installations. Just make sure to watch that altimeter!
One of the coolest things we’ve heard about this game is the inclusion of a special “Ace Kill” mechanic and a mysterious “Energy” attack. The former sounds ultra-fun: basically, when hovering your aiming reticle over a target, you can press a button that activates the potential for an “Ace Kill.” You’ll enter a slow-mo mode that is accompanied by a meter; you need to accurately target the enemy and press fire within a short allotted time. If you can pull it off, you’ll be rewarded with an instant kill and a little cut-scene that shows the enemy exploding into teeny tiny bits. The “Energy” kill involves diving directly at a target at top speed (perhaps gathering energy as you go?), and there’s also the inclusion of secondary weapons, as there typically are in such titles. When you go to load out, you’ll want to check your alternatives to the primary weapon affixed to the plane; the secondary weapon can be bombs, torpedoes or rockets. Also, if you stick to the default difficulty, you’ll get the benefit of limited regeneration for your aircraft’s health. At higher difficulty levels, there is no health regeneration.
So it’s all up to you in how you approach the dangerous skies of WWII. There are any number of preparation possibilities, although you’ll definitely begin with a restricted number. You gotta unlock many of those options, but of course, that’s a fairly standard progression in games these days. Heroes Over Europe should wing its way onto store shelves on September 8 in North America.
8/4/2009 Ben Dutka