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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action / Flight Simulator

 

Publisher

LucasArts

 

Developer

Totally Games

 

ERSB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2003

 

 

- Jolt of adrenaline filled fun

- Challenging difficulty

- Graphically sound

- Realistic planes

- Small learning curve

- Addictive

 

 

- No multiplayer

- Slow motion mode takes away challenge and fun

- Frustrating missions

- Collision problems

 

 

Review: Aero Elite: Combat Academy (Playstation 2)

Review: Lethal Skies II (Playstation 2)

Review: Crimson Skies: Highroad to Revenge (Xbox)

 

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Secret Weapons Over Normandy

Score 8.8/10

 

Forget the realism, confusing and vast controls, and attention to detail of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Secret Weapons of Normandy puts you in the pilot's seat of the plane you always wanted - fast, furious and with a large clip of ammo. This game is not about getting from Point A to Point B but rather to give your opponents a surplus of scrap metal with a barrage of bullets, rockets and bombs.

 

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SWON puts you in the shoes of Chase, an aspiring American aviator, willing to do his part in the war against the Germans. Chase is recruited into the Battlehawks who are a top-secret expert team that specializes in carrying out secret missions and crippling the efforts of their German counterpart, Nemesis. Chase will work mainly alongside the British but he will also work with his countrymen, the Americans, and also the Russians.

 

You progress through the story in missions, which vary from defending a base, to sinking German U-Boats, to destroying a top secret bomber factory. Each of these missions has primary, secondary and bonus objectives. Completing these objectives will get you requisitions, which you use to upgrade the planes in your hanger. These upgrades range from better armor and better engines to doubling your ammo, bombs or rockets you can carry at one time. You can also take part in 'Challenges' after beating a mission. Challenges are mini-missions that give you the opportunity to earn more requisites and planes. However, Challenges are not mandatory and do not advance the plot but are side-stories that help you feel immersed as a member of your squadron.

 

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You will be given many diverse planes in the game so you will have to use your requisitions wisely. For example it is necessary to get the bomb capacity upgrade on your bombers otherwise you will have a much harder time in bombing missions. All of the planes handle very differently like the bomber, which is heavy and slow to scout planes, which are quick and light but dangerously lightly armoured. Many missions require you to use a specific plane so always keep some extra requisitions handy for 

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some last minute upgrades. You will have to learn how to use every single one of these planes effectively or you will constantly fail missions and get frustrated. This game is no walk in the park.

 

One thing that separates SWON from other recent games is difficulty. This game is not meant for easily frustrated casual gamers. You have to keep track of many things at once and failure to do so will make your once graceful plane sprinkle the ground with shrapnel. Although the missions are hard, they are so fun to play that you probably will not mind retrying missions several times.

 

SWON has the very useful feature to speed up time. This is crucial when having to travel long distances over danger-free zones. There is also an ability to slow down time but I dislike this option immensely. There is no time limit to slow down time and thus you can slow it down infinitely. Using the option at all takes the difficulty from refreshingly hard to ridiculously easy. You do not feel like you're in a fighter plane when using the slow-mo feature. There is no excitement, no invigorating pace and no challenge. Plain and simple with the flick of a switch, SWON becomes boring. However you can shy away from that feature to keep SWON exciting.

 

What keeps SWON from being an incredible game are a few annoying discrepancies. You can skin a guard tower at practically 2mph to watch your plane explode while slamming headfirst into another fighter plane at 400mph causes only minimal damage. Likewise, if the bottom of your plane barely skims the water you will watch it disappear in a ball of fire and scattered metal. In real life if an enemy gets on your tail, chances are you won't live for long but in SWON you can have someone one your tail the entire mission and still survive. I doubt even the Red Baron can last that long in such a vulnerable position.

 

secret weapons over normandy preview          secret weapons over normandy preview

 

SWON delivers in the graphics department. You will probably not notice in the fast pace of the game but the various planes, subs and tanks are animated well in this game. At close range, you can make out jagged edges but if you are that close to an object, you're not going to have much time to inspect it before dying.

 

The PS2 controller works well with this game. The left analog stick controls your direction and altitude and the right one controls your speed. This takes only about 5 minutes to get down and about 10 minutes to master it. There is also a bombing camera, which displays a target reticule on the ground where your bombs will approximately land. Most importantly, all of these controls flow well together and very rarely will you get confused and press the wrong button.

 

SWON is a great WWII experience as well as an exceptional game. The lack of multiplayer and a few discrepancies keep SWON from being a spectacular game but it still is exceptional. Free up your schedule and give this game a go.

 

-Stefan Shetty

(February 3, 2004)

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