Developer: Transmission Games
System requirements: Windows XP/Vista; 2.66 GHz CPU; Radeon X1600 or GeForce 6800 video card; 1 GB RAM (2 GB for Vista); 9 GB hard-drive space
Genre: Flight Simulator
Release date: Available now
WWII-themed games will never stop being made. Ever. Even a thousand years in the future, most games will use that setting with complete disregard for all other wars that preceded and followed it. I don’t know what it is about World War II that seems to resonate with most game developers. The only time I feel it’s justified is when the game in question is of a flying sort. That’s because of a specific kind of aerial combat, which was pretty much exclusive to this time period. Air conflict in this era is the transition between the bamboo-and-canvas planes of WWI and the jets of later years; if you want to pilot a monoplane at 300 mph, then WWII is for you.
Heroes Over Europe is an arcade flight simulator. That’s the sort of game for those of us who are unwilling to go to flight school for three years just to be able to play. As the name suggests, this game primarily places you in the skies above Europe as the Germans attack their neighbors, the French. A lot of other folks get offended and volunteer to help out, and you play pilots from nations all over the world as the game goes on. Your job is to shoot bombers, shoot fighters, shoot tanks, shoot mines, bomb buildings and torpedo ships. Occasionally you have to defeat an Ace, but that falls under shooting fighters.
Heroes includes a total of a few dozen missions that usually range from 30 to 45 minutes in duration. After beating some of them you unlock historical aircraft such as the Spitfire, the Mustang or the Mosquito. Weather conditions range from clear skies to rain or snow, and you fly in the summer, the winter or at night, above France, England, Germany and the English Channel. You also participate in the defense of London and raids on Berlin. One feature that is a bit unusual is the Ace Mode, in which you follow an enemy closely and kill them by targeting specific weak points.
Heroes Over Europe feels no different than most other aerial shooters. Although the game really tries to break the monotony by forcing you into weird sequences from time to time, the majority of it is just routine. Enemies appear and you shoot them, ad nauseum. Europe, as seen from above, is not very detailed. The cities, which show off some landmarks such as the Tower of London or the Reichstag, are mostly made up of the same few buildings pasted over and over again. The only cool parts are the mission briefings, the pilot banter (even though it sometimes repeats) and the actual footage of the war that’s occasionally shown.
Sounds like a generic game, something that I’d give three stars, right? Wrong! Heroes Over Europe made me lose my progress twice. And I was pretty far into the missions when it happened. My custom settings were also lost, but that seems minor in comparison. Couple that with a lack of a save-anywhere feature, for which there is never an acceptable excuse, and you get one furious reviewer. Still, I ended up beating the game in one long sitting, and it was not fun. I won’t mention other technical issues, because the loss of progress is a death sentence all by itself.
What we have in Heroes Over Europe is yet another unfinished release, with early customers essentially being unwilling beta testers. Maybe after a patch it will be a regular, halfway decent game, if a bit forgettable. Then I’ll recommend it to WWII buffs, flight-sim junkies and anyone who’s really bored. For now, however, it’s nothing but a trap. Unless you are a masochist, stay far, far, far away.