Secret Weapons Over Normandy doesnt really have anything to do with
Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, LucasArts 1991 combat flight sim.
Where that game offered what was, at the time, essentially a sim
experience, SWON takes a much more arcadish approach to aerial
destruction in World War II.
Set, obviously, against
the backdrop of the Normandy campaign, in story mode you take on the
role of a Yankee who has come over to Britian to fulfill his dream of
flying in the RAF. This is a sketchy premise at best, since the US had a
notable air deployment of its own during the War, but my guess is that
Totally Games wanted the player to be able to better identify with the
protagonist. In some ways this is a shame because it hurts the
credibility of the story from the get go.
SWON offers players the
chance to fly from a pilots-eye perspective, but the game defaults to a
third-person chase view that is really how it is meant to be played. One
can adapt to the control in first person, but it takes some time to
become intuitive, and its almost impossible to aim bombs with any sort
of accuracy since youre guided by a yellow crosshair on the ground
thats not visable unless youre close to the ground and in chase-view.
Additionally, a red
target appears in front of a targeted enemy plane thats within about
2000 feet, showing you where you need to shoot if you want to hit the
plane. This makes the game much easier, but also feeds the arcade
The game features an
advanced mode that makes the flight model a bit more realistic (read:
hard to control) among other things, but this feels like something that
was tacked on at the last minute and certainly wont satisfy flight
However, despite these
basic shortcomings, SWON does offer up an explosive ride thats fun if
not terribly original. At the outset, you have access to only a few
aircraft, a basic cannon, and a basic set of bombs. There are a variety
of weapons that become available as you progress through story mode (and
are thus unlocked in Quick Battle mode, which drops you right into a
dogfight based on parameters you specify). Ultimatly, you discover
secret weapons, such as the Highball, a bouncing bomb made to be
dropped on the water and skip along until it hits something. I
questioned the historical accuracy of this, but a quick trip to Google
confirmed that there was, in fact, such a weapon.
The graphics in this game
are a mixed bag. On the PC, with the details maxed out, it looks very
pretty: however, this takes an exacting toll on even a high-end gaming
rig. With details at medium, the PC still has the advantage over the
PS2, and to a lesser degree the Xbox, because of higher resolutions and
a few nifty shader effects.
The sound is tolerable,
although the speech is fairly poor. Machine-guns spit realistically
enough, but the German pilots screaming ve haff to destroy you! suffer
from classic programmer in the bathroom sound effect quality issues,
and the British accents are not much better. All in all, sound probably
needs more improvement than any other area in this game.
At the end of the day,
SWON is a good diversion, but theres not much meat here. My advice is
to rent this one first, and if youre looking for a real sim, stick with
the Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator games.
Tristan Mayshark (12/07/2003)
Fun, pretty, basically well realized
Concept that was realized is not especially unique
PC, XBox, PS2