In Battle of Europe from Strategy First players will step into the computer cockpit and take to the skies to fly 22 chronicled aircraft used in World War II on both the allied and axis sides. Sixteen historical missions will have players flying over London, Norway, Dunkirk, and Berlin to defend the allies from German attacks on land, sea, and air, or by selecting "Arcade" mode, players can choose completed levels for single mission play. Selectable difficulty levels keep the game playable for everyone, while eight camera modes allow a view of the battle from every angle.
Battle of Europe is a 3D arcade action game. Taking place in the skies over Europe, players are taken through breathtaking terrain modeled for London, Norway, Dunkirk and Berlin. A full hanger of fighters and bombers completely submerse the player in the reality of the World War II flying aces. The game features 16 missions, 180 vehicle models, and weather and daylight effects.
I am one who believes that fun is the whole point of an arcade-style flight game. If you're freed from the need to worry about things like engine torque and minimum airspeed, you should be free to go wild shooting down enemy planes and blowing things on the ground to smithereens. Apparently the developers behind Battle for Europe disagree with me because they've created an arcade flight game that is mostly bland and tedious, with occasional forays into frustration. Where's the fun?
In many cases pilots first learn that something is wrong with their aircraft right away on takeoff and similarly you'll have warning lights going off in your head when you play the game's first mission. The first mission is a tutorial that takes you through the basics of gameplay - pretty standard for a flight game. Right after takeoff you'll find that the controls are very simple and very forgiving - there's not really any kind of acknowledgement of real-world physics in the game. Airspeed doesn't seem to have any real effect on maneuvering and I never ran into any issues with stalling, so it seems that your speed only affects how fast the landscape scrolls by. Your first assignment after takeoff is to strafe a train during which you'll learn that the game has an auto-targeting feature to make things really simple for you. Score a few hits on one of the train cars and you'll stop the train and move on to the next task which is to drop some bombs on a small military compound. For bombing runs you're given a pop-up window which gives you a top-down view of the terrain with crosshairs to aim your bombs. There's no need to compensate for momentum or altitude; just push the bomb key when you see the target under the crosshairs and you'll score a direct hit every time. The next exercise involves firing rockets at a couple of ships. For some reason the game does not give you target lock for your rockets, but you do get a second pair of crosshairs that show you how to lead your target to score a hit. This makes the true crosshairs superfluous as you'll always aim using the second set. A single rocket hit is enough to take out each of the ships and then it is on to a practice landing at an auxiliary airstrip. Up until this point the tutorial pretty much holds your hand the entire way explaining exactly what you need to do, but then when it leaves you to land you're on your own without any instruction. If you don't happen to figure out the game's landing sequence on the first pass, the game will make you replay the entire tutorial from the beginning all over again and then leave you to land on your own again. Very frustrating. Since I had to play through the tutorial a few times I selected a different plane and quickly discovered that every plane in the game is basically the same. In the tutorial and in the game, a Spitfire handles in exactly the same way as a Typhoon. Anyway, after I made it through the tutorial I clicked the button that I thought would take me to the next mission only to find myself back at the main menu. Making matters worse the game didn't save my progress and I had to replay the tutorial again! Seriously guys, what the heck were you thinking when you designed the game's interface?
Once into the game (finally!) it became apparent that the tutorial was really the game in a nutshell. You're given one unexciting and unchallenging mission after another which all boil down to taking off, shooting something, and then returning, without any real variety, narrative, or fun. If you manage to do something stupid and lose your plane, it's back to the beginning to repeat everything all over again. Sure, Battle for Europe is a budget title, but that doesn't mean it should be tedious.
Battle for Europe will sap any enthusiasm that you have for the game from the very beginning and won't do anything to generate any fun or excitement if for some reason you decide to stick with it. Look for your flight thrills elsewhere.
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