Secret Weapons Over Normandy
is brought to you by the same people who created X-Wing
and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe
, so right off the bat you know you're in for an experience. Throwing out some of the more complicated elements of a hard core flight sim, the good people at Lucasarts have managed to bring a great game to the table that reproduces the high points of WWII aerial combat with an arcade flare.
This mission based flight sim starts you out in the seat of a British fighter during the retreat of Dunkirk, where you must give cover to Fleeing English transport boats as they are harassed by those bad guys in the Messerschmitts. From that point on you take to the skies over Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Scandinavia.
Along the way you will not only fly missions, but also take part in challenges where you can unlock new planes, increase your rank (although that is just for show and doesn't really get you anywhere in the game), and earn valuable upgrade points that you can use on all of the planes that you have unlocked. How many planes you ask? 26 in total, including some of the more bizarre concepts that never saw the light of day during the war.
You have to wait until the later missions to unlock the really cool aircraft, though, something that may get on the nerves of antsy gamers that want to take secret weapons like the 'Flying Pancake' into the air right away. But believe me, it is well worth the wait. And since most missions allow you to use any plane you've unlocked, you don't get bogged down with using the same old plane over and over again.
Besides an Instant Action mode where you jump straight into a dogfight with the computer, you can also customize the Campaign missions that you have beaten to a pretty high degree, and swap them with other pilots over the Internet. I'm sure we'll be seeing some massive air battle missions popping up on the fan sites pretty soon. Noticeably lacking though is any Multiplayer support at all. This would have added greatly to the game's replay value, but instead you are stuck with just the single player options which will undoubtedly lose their luster sooner than any Multiplayer options would.