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Secret Weapons Over Normandy (Windows)

75
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Ola Sverre Bauge (235)
Written on  :  Nov 05, 2004
Platform  :  Windows

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Summary

Almost entertains, but is thrown off by lack of focus.

The Good

What we have here is a WWII-themed arcade dogfighter; about the only nods to realism is stalling and the bit about bombs being more accurate when you dive. In fact, you wouldn't be far wrong in thinking this Wing Commander 2 with added ground.

Which is fine by me, since my biggest problem with space dogfighting is disorientation and samey-looking environments. Of course, having the ground there means there's a risk of crashing into it, which happens to me two times out of three, but I guess you can't have everything.

What I do mind is that the cutscenes look worse than WC2. They've taken a bunch of WWII stock photographs and made ridiculous animations out of them, treating them the exact worst way - if they were any more amateurish, they would have some camp entertainment value, but as it is, they're just embarrassing. I mean, honestly people, war photographs with voiceover isn't that hard to do right, you need look no further than Fallout.

Anyway, the WWII theme is mostly for the instant brand name recognition of Spitfires, Stukas and Junkers. Also some fun plays on the technological advances of the day: "The English have developed a new technology. They call it 'Radar'." And of course you're shooting Nazis, so the censors can't complain.

Cutting through the external hogwash, I found that the dogfighting was actually fun - there's something very satisfying about a plane that shoots hot lead, as opposed to the pudding-launchers you get in most space dogfighters. Force feedback is used for something sensible at last; it gives you a tactile indication of when you're stalling or brushing against other planes.

You usually get a well placed checkpoint or three per mission, there are bonus goals on the way which add to the fun, you get to collapse bridges, sending tanks into the riverstream...

But then there's a mission where you have to bomb a whole bunch of boats, and bombing isn't really fun as anything other than a side attraction. At that point, I didn't entertain any hopes of it getting better soon. So I quit.

The Bad

The graphic style is odd; there seems to be a bit too much black in the mix, giving everything the appearance of painted darkwood models: the planes, towns, cars, trees...

The sound is competent, but the plane's engine and gun lack meat; especially the engine sound can get annoyingly fickle when you're flying a long uneventful stretch. I could almost wager it's a recording of a moped.

The Bottom Line

Could have been fun. But no.