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Secret Weapons Over Normandy

Developer: Totally Games
Publisher: LucasArts
Genre: Action
Players: 1-2
ETA: Nov. 2003
Similar To: Wing Arms
Published: 09 :15 : 03
Previewed By: Tom Keller

Screenshots

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Additional Screenshots
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Official Statement

Join a secret squad of pilots dedicated to thwarting the most heinous plans of the Third Reich. Fly over twenty authentic aircraft across thirty daring missions in this new WWII action-flyer. Lawrence Holland, the legendary creator of Star Wars: X-Wing, Star Wars: Tie Fighter and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe returns with an exhilarating new game of action and intrigue. Can you be trusted with the most dangerous secrets of the war? Fly more than twenty realistic aircraft across a variety of combat theaters over World War II Europe and other territories as you make your way through the ranks of an elite fighter squadron. Engage in over thirty action-packed missions featuring air-to-air and air-to-ground battle scenarios.



General Information
The technology race in World War II from all sides to improve their vehicles, armament and weaponry was at a frenzied pace for over a half decade and finally ended with more destruction than the world had ever seen. The political structure and the leaders as well as their aspirations are intriguing and fascinating. The sheer geography that it encompassed as well as the strategies required for the numerous landscapes are just mind-numbing. The time for tanks, artillery, and ground troops of that strength has long since passed but that short period remains an excellent pool from which creative minds can drink from to create relevant software. Enter Secret Weapons Over Normandy, which sets you up as part of a secret group of pilots that ran dangerous missions in an effort to change the war.

Many titles over the years have tried to remain faithful to their roots, some to a fault. The more elaborate board games out there can take weeks or even months to fully learn. Titles such as Panzer and Allied General have made the successful transition to the PlayStation console and remained true their roots. Secret Weapons Over Normandy, however, tries to integrate history with a fluid arcade flight sim and is well on its way to successfully accomplishing this curious melt of fields. Think of the popular game Colony Wars set in Europe and Japan in the 1940's and you'll get an idea of what to expect here.


Hands-On
The combat controls are intuitive, easy to learn and very effective. The PS 2 dual analog sticks are absolutely made for titles like this - one controls the speed of the aircraft flawlessly and the other controls your direction. Firing controls for both machine gun fire and bombing runs are on the right shoulder buttons (R1 and R2). Landing gear is raised and lowered with your directional pad as are certain commands to your wing men. The speed of the turns is much faster than you might expect with the primitive aircraft (especially at the beginning of World War II) that were available - but this title conveys much more of an arcade feel than any flight based WW II game that I've played.

The missions of your elite force of fighter pilots are varied and intriguing. Sinking enemy transports and subs or shooting down a German JU-88 which is later repaired and flown back to the battlefield disguised as a member of the enemy are a few examples of the missions that you'll fly. Your orders will take place during the day and at night. Night missions make the targets incredibly difficult to see - specifically on bombing and dive bombing runs, to the point that you can get frustrated with the inability to line up your target. Still, I found myself pressing the select/start button again and again without being deterred despite the difficulty.

The bombing missions are particularly challenging, even during the day, as they require you to get really close to your target, release your payload, and veer away as quickly as possible. Not easy to do and when your target is moving the difficulty is further magnified. Shooting down JU-87's, BF109's, and many more through dogfights is much more fun than realistic, but we're here to have fun right? You also engage German "elite" pilots that are much more challenging than the usual machine gun fodder and they'll taunt you over your radio to boot. Good stuff.

There really isn't much to complain about in this game, even in this unfinished preview build. The WWII purists might say that if a realistic mission relied on you a single pilot downing 15 planes each time out then the entire lot in Europe would be speaking German about now. This isn't about realism, it's about entertainment with a little bit of history mixed in, and it works. If games like Star Lancer, Colony Wars, and to a lesser degree, Wing Commander are in your library then this is a game you won't want to miss. Heck, you won't want to miss it anyway. LucasArts looks to have another hit on their hands following their Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, and that's always a good thing.

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Related Links: LucasArts.com
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