Heroes Over Europe
Flight-simulators have long used World War II as a backdrop before Call of Duty and Medal of Honor popularized the war time shooter, but rarely in the manner as Heroes Over Europe. Ditching the simulator along with a limit on machine gun rounds, Heroes Over Europe adds some skills the Allies would have killed for back in the day and aims to deliver a fast paced arcade flight-sim that honors the pilots of World War II.
As one of three up and coming Allied pilots you’ll engage “Jerry” in London, Berlin and everywhere in between. At most times you’ll be accompanied by at least a single wingman but although your buddies will talk with you over the radio you’ll feel mostly alone against the Germans. There won’t be any shortage of fellow Allied fighters occupying the skies with you, even trailing various bogies and notifying you of incoming enemies, but they will never score any kills. Given that you’re almost always flanked by at least a single wingman, Heroes Over Europe could really use a cooperative multiplayer feature to lend some much needed assistance.
One of the major frustrations with Heroes Over Europe is that there is almost always someone on your six but they will never be part of your current objective. Since they have no tactical value towards your mission you aren’t able make a trailing foe your active target, therefore rendering it practically impossible to track the bastard down and clear your tail for good. Keeping you focused on the task at hand makes sense within the greater context of the mission and the overall war effort but simply having to roll and out maneuver bogies rather than actually being encouraged to engage will certainly begin to wear on any virtual pilot.
What you will find yourself doing regularly is defending various Allied targets including radar installations, battleships, bomber squadrons and even Buckingham Palace. As fun as most of that might sound, most of it boils down to killing wave after wave of various German aircraft all by your own. Although taking on a legion of Luftwaffe is not terribly difficult, it quickly becomes tedious and you’ll find yourself hoping the current wave will be the last. It won’t be. About halfway through Heroes Over Europe the mission variety finally begins to change as the war leaves British airspace. In addition to the objectives you’ve grown accustomed to you’ll now get to make bombing runs with the agile Mosquito, as well as sink battleships with the Swordfish. Some of the very final missions over various war-torn European cities are actually quite spectacular but it’s worth mentioning the frame rate can begin to chug with all the geometry of the city scape plus the action on screen.
Over the course of the thirteen missions that comprise the campaign, Heroes Over Europe attempts to spin an intertwining tale of the three pilots who are all from different corners of the world. The pilots narrate the cut-scenes that break up the missions and attempt to give some context to your pilot and the wingmen who follow you into battle. They’ll go on about the same things many war time stories have told and unfortunately told more convincingly. The cut-scenes work well enough and the pilots do have a little character (albeit clichéd) but as soon as the mission begins it’s difficult to really care about anyone in your wing, let alone your pilot himself, or take the story seriously when you’ll rack up an impressive careers’ worth of kills in a single mission.
As previously mentioned Heroes Over Europe leans heavily to the arcade side style of flight-simulators. Many of the planes feel near identical with the notable exceptions being the aforementioned Mosquito and Swordfish. There is an option to use ‘Professional’ controls but it’s unclear who might prefer those given the basic essence of the title, including the Ace Kill and Energy Shot abilities. The former allows you to enter an almost bullet-time like mode where you can target single machine gun bursts at various weak points on an enemy, while the latter greatly increases the damage dealt by your machine gun when you dive at a bogey from directly above and at full-throttle. Both additions certainly help to separate Heroes from other flying titles and add some much needed flair but you’ll really only end up using Ace Kill out of the two.
Outside of the campaign Heroes Over Europe sports a fairly standard online component for up to sixteen players to duke things out. Game types include deathmatch, team deathmatch and last man standing, but none of them really standout above the rest. A normal match will usually play out with a handful of pilots circling one another with the occasional kill here and there for the entire time limit. It’s certainly serviceable but if you don’t love the campaign the chances are rather slim you’ll fall for the multiplayer either.
Heroes Over Europe is a pretty standard arcade flight-simulator in almost every way. Some of the latter missions are quite fun and the Ace Kill skill adds some interesting variety but it seems unlikely the average player will get that far as they’re inundated with a never ending sea of German fighters, useless comrades and clichéd World War II stories of heroics.