Secret Weapons Over Normandy

Moby ID: 12520
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

In Secret Weapons Over Normandy, you take the role of James Chase, an American pilot who joins a secret elite squadron of Royal Air Force pilots during World War 2. As a member of the Battlehawks, you must take part in missions in several war theaters including Western and Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Pacific, experiencing historical battles and encounters like the Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, D-Day and the Battle of Midway. The primary enemy of the Battlehawks is their German Luftwaffe counterpart, called Nemesis.

The game features over 20 flyable historical aircraft, 15 campaign missions and 20 optional "challenge" missions. Between missions, the player's plane can be upgraded with things like better armor and engines. The game also features unlockable bonuses like new planes and movies.

Spellings

  • 诺曼底上空的秘密武器 - Chinese spelling (simplified)
  • 飛越火線 - Chinese spelling (traditional)

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Credits (Windows version)

299 People (189 developers, 110 thanks) · View all

Creative Director and Project Lead
Technical Lead
Art Lead
Mission Design Lead
Asst. Tech Lead, Game Systems
3D Graphics Programming
Game System Programmers
Tool Programmers
Mission Designers
Script Writer
Model Artists
Terrain Artists
Model & Cutscene Artist
Interface Artist
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 76% (based on 30 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 16 ratings with 2 reviews)

Another great Larry Holland game

The Good
Prior to Pearl Harbor, U.S. involvement in World War II was limited to American pilots allowed to fly with the RAF. One such pilot was James Chase, Secret Weapons Over Normandy’s main character. Impressing his English superiors, Chase is selected for the Battlehawks, an elite squadron given access to the newest aircraft and sent on the most important and dangerous missions. Engaging German and Japanese squadrons, the Battlehawks see action in both the European and Pacific Theaters.

While the Battlehawks are the best the Allies have to offer, the Axis have the sinister Nemesis group headed by the German Ace Krieger. Flying planes with innovations previously unthought-of, Nemesis pilots are fierce, merciless opponents. While always a step behind, Chase and company have no choice but to meet Nemesis head-on and frustrate their efforts.

Secret Weapons Over Normandy is an arcade presentation of aviation combat, not a flight simulator. In this way, it resembles the Rogue Squadron series of games more than the X-wing franchise. However, it is a much better game than any of the three entries currently in that series, especially since Chase never has to tie up an AT-AT.

Fortunately for the gamer, Chase sees more action than a historically accurate pilot would have. Within the course of the game, Chase skirmishes off Dover, frustrates Rommel in North Africa, supports ground defenses in Russia, all in addition to Midway and Normandy. While most missions take place in the cockpit, one starts in an AA turret on a Destroyer and another in the ball turret of a B-17 bomber.

After selecting a plane for a mission (eventually Chase has over twenty to pick from), Chase chooses a secondary weapon, in addition to the primary machine gun. Secondary weapons include torpedos and cannons, eventually leading up to guided rockets late in the game. Playing from a third-person perspective, the camera follows Chase’s aircraft with options to survey the area. While he is flying, he can target an enemy and the camera will turn to show its location. He can also switch to a bombing view when engaging land and sea forces.

Missions have a lot of variation, as Chase engages land, air, and sea forces. Trains must be derailed, rockets shot down, POW camps raided, and tank columns bombed. One hair-raising level has Chase escorting Dr. Niels Bohr as he flees the Nazis. In this multistage mission, Chase must take out tanks targeting Bohr’s truck, engage submarines attacking Bohr’s boat, clear an airfield of AA guns so Allied forces can land, and more.

Every mission has primary objectives, obvious secondary objectives, and secret bonus objectives that present themselves to observant aviators. Completing these objectives earn aircraft upgrades, so the next time Chase is in the hanger he can have a plane’s structure, engine, or armaments improved. Even an introductory Hurricane can be turned into a fierce flying machine. Most missions have an Allied Airfield where Chase can repair and reload. This is easily accomplished by either manually landing the plane on a runway or lowering the landing gear and hitting a floating hotspot above the field.

Story missions are usually supported with bonus missions putting Chase in competition with other pilots. Chase might have to race along the fjords competing to reach a dam while engaging enemy forces or he might have to outscore the lovely Lilia as they disrupt a German assault. Once a mission has been completed, it can be replayed either for fun or to improve Chase’s score. Upgrades prove invaluable as the Axis makes more technological breakthroughs and Chase earns promotions in rank by nailing all the objectives.

With tight controls and a great camera, Secret Weapons Over Normandy feels right, but it looks and sounds right, too. Models are based on real aircraft with sound provided from onsite visits to the Air Museum Planes of Fame. The game’s wonderful score (Michael Giacchino leading the Northwest Sinfonia) sounds like something from a Hollywood production. Cinematics feel pulled from A&E, using real WWII footage and narrated by documentary narrator Will Lyman.

Completing missions unlocks film clips showing behind the scenes production of Secret Weapons Over Normandy, including background on the aircraft provided by pilots from the Air Museum and the musical scoring process. Secret Weapons Over Normandy also has a two-player competitive mode and an Instant Action single player dogfight mode.

The Bad
Being arcade rather than simulator, Secret Weapons Over Normandy has a few features which pull you out of the moment. Fuel is never a worry regardless of how long, hard, or fast you fly. Planes don’t fly differently depending on their level of damage. An enemy plane can be a ball of fire and still fly like it was brand new as long as it has just a bit of life left. If your plane is near its end, you can fly like mad to the nearest Allied Airfield and get a new one. There’s no penalty for burning through any number of planes, except for the damage being done to your side while you are out of action.

Other odd touches can’t be explained by Secret Weapons Over Normandy’s nature. Crashing into an enemy plane doesn’t do anything to you or them. Perhaps this explains why the enemy AI doesn’t make any attempt to avoid head-on collisions. Speaking of crashing, you can die by crashing into the ground or sea, ground units or sea units, and buildings, but not trees.

In terms of AI, whenever I was able to command my wingmen they were more agreeable than effective and the enemy AI was pretty easy to shake. This, plus the ability to slow down or speed up time, made Secret Weapons Over Normandy a bit too easy. Others, however, say it’s a bit too hard. Secret Weapons Over Normandy has no difficulty setting so it really depends on the player.


The Bottom Line
Ever since HellCat Ace for the Commodore 64 I’ve had an affinity for flight games, but being underwhelmed by the Rogue Squadron franchise I came to Secret Weapons Over Normandy with low expectations. Was I wrong. Secret Weapons Over Normandy is a great game for those looking for aviation combat without nitpicky levels of realism. This game has so many great moments, it’s hard just to name a few: lighting up an enemy plane until it blows apart, flying through an enemy hanger taking out the planes within, decimating tank column with a one-ton bomb. I highly recommend this game, not only for its gameplay, but also for its insightful extras.

PlayStation 2 · by Terrence Bosky (5397) · 2005

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.

Windows · by Ola Sverre Bauge (237) · 2004

Trivia

Unlockables

Upon completing all campaign and challenge missions, the X-Wing and TIE Fighter are flyable in Instant Action mode.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Terok Nor.

PlayStation 3 added by Charly2.0.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Apogee IV, DreinIX, Paulus18950, Cantillon.

Game added March 21, 2004. Last modified May 29, 2024.