Secret Weapons Over Normandy

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For other uses, see Secret Weapons of World War II.
Secret Weapons Over Normandy
Secret Weapons Over Normandy cover.jpg
Developer(s) Totally Games
Publisher(s) LucasArts
Designer(s) Lawrence Holland
Mike Hawkins
Tony Evans
Jess VanderWalker
Aaron Keppel
Composer(s) Michael Giacchino
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Xbox
Windows
Release date(s) November 18, 2003
Genre(s) Flight simulation, action
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer, internet

Secret Weapons Over Normandy or (SWON) is a World War II-based arcade flight simulation video game released on November 18, 2003. Published by LucasArts and developed by Totally Games, the game is composed of 15 objective-based missions set in 1940s European, North African, and the Pacific theatres of war. The story was written by Derek Chester, who is also famous for his work in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as well as work on Star Trek videogames. The music was composed by Michael Giacchino.

Gameplay[edit]

The player controls James Chase, an American pilot volunteering to assist the British, who stand alone at this point of the war. He flies in the classified squadron known as the Battlehawks. Over the course of the game, the player has opportunities to: earn or capture new aircraft, add upgrades to his/her existing aircraft, and as the game puts it: "halt the most insidious plans of the Third Reich." The player's principal opponent is the Luftwaffe, in particular the enemies being the Battlehawk's counterpart, the elite squadron of top German pilots, known as Nemesis (similar to the real KG 200), commanded by Oberst Krieger. The player will also face off against the forces of the Japanese Empire.

It is notable for the presence of many prototype designs that never flew in combat, or were used in small numbers: the XP-55 Ascender, XP-56 Black Bullet, Chance-Vought Flying Pancake, the Junkers Ju 390, and the Daimler Benz C. Several German weapons projects that were either never completed or failed to make a significant impact on the war also feature in the game, such as the Mistel and the Wasserfall missile launcher.

In the campaign, the player is often assisted by wingmen. They are friendly pilots who can be ordered to cover Chase's plane, follow it, attack marked units and attack enemy planes. In some missions, it is possible to land on runways and get more ammunition or even change the aircraft. The player can slow down or speed up the time at any moment. However, it also removes voice dialogue. Although the most of the gameplay is in the air, certain parts of certain missions are set on the ground and the player must use anti-aircraft weaponry to shoot down enemy planes. The first part of the twelfth mission is in a turret of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, and the player uses machine guns to fight incoming fighters.

During the campaign, the player can play short challenges that often have unique objectives. The story is not affected if these challenges are skipped, but they also follow the same story of the main part of the campaign.

Aircraft[edit]

Throughout the course of the game, the player will have the opportunity to fly many types of WWII aircraft into combat. Here is the list of every aircraft and missile that makes an appearance in the course of the game:

Allied aircraft:

United Kingdom:

United States:

Soviet Union:

Unlockables:

Axis aircraft:

Germany:

Japan:

* It appears in Campaign mode but is not flyable in either Campaign or Instant Action mode.

° It appears in Campaign mode but is only flyable in Instant Action mode.

Unlockable only after completing all 15 missions and all 20 challenges, and only available in Instant Action mode

Featured Ammunition and Weaponry[edit]

The game features a wide range of actual weapons that were used during World War II. Here is a list of the Conventional and Secret weapons that can be used by the player in the game.

Conventional Weapons

German Vengeance Rocket

Cannons are used by the player in two main forms, the 37mm Cannon and the 57mm Cannon. These are typically bolted to the underside of the users aircraft.

Rockets are also to be found in this game. The game features simple rockets which are entitled Small, Medium, and Large, each increasing in size, respectively.

Bombs are also featured in the game, being somewhat similar to the rockets, being named Small, Medium, and Large.

Torpedoes can be found in this game too, often playing an important role in the early missions involving the destruction of ships and landing craft. The game features the 17.7" Mark XV Torpedo.

Secret Weapons

Bouncing bomb 'Upkeep'

The game also features a small selection of Secret Weapons, hence the game title. These include the following weapons.

The Fritz X free-fall guided bomb (also known as the Ruhrstahl/Kramer X-1) has a warhead of 700 lbs and was built with the intention of destroying Allied capital ships.

The Upkeep Bouncing bomb is perhaps the most famous weapon that is to be found in the game. This is due to the fact that it is the same weapon which was used in Operation Chastise, better known as the Dambusters Raid.

The Henschel 294 makes an appearance in this game as a rocket-propelled flying torpedo which is used by the player to sink ships from great distances.

Also in this game, is the Henschel 293 air-to-ground rocket. It is designed to destroy Ground Targets at long range. In the game, this rocket is camera-guided.

Finally, the last of the secret weapons in the game is the Ruhrstahl X-4 air-to-air missile. This was developed by Ruhrstahl AG and was created to bring down Allied B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft.

Campaign mode and historic missions[edit]

The first mission sets the player in Dunkirk, France during Operation Dynamo. James Chase, under command of a British pilot Trevor, has to defend the Royal Navy as they evacuate as many troops as they can before the Nazis surround Dunkirk. After succeeding in defending the evacuation, the remaining pilots from the first mission fall back to England. On August 13, 1941, the first day of the Nazis' air campaign against Britain, the Battlehawks airfield is hit by the Luftwaffe in a surprise attack. Chase and squadron mechanic Lyle man two of the airfield's AA guns while the rest of the pilots scramble to intercept the Nazis. On October 1, allies begin Operation Sea Lion. Chase and Rork capture a German bomber, which Chase uses to fly to a German runway and invade it. When Germans realize that the runaway is attacked by one of their bombers, French resistance fighters led by Cedrick take over the airfield and Chase quickly steals a Bf-109 fighter plane. The operation is successful, but the Battlehawks remain outnumbered and severely limited on ammunition so they retreat back to England. The theatre of war shifts to North Africa, where German forces have been placed under the command of General Erwin Rommel. The Battlehawks, through the aide of a mole known as the White Rose, plan on attacking a fleet transporting the German General before it can arrive. The attack is led by torpedo plane pilot Toomey, and is successful, however Rommel was moved to Tripoli several days before and is alive. Now compromised, the White Rose is moved safely to the runway, where Pauline, another member of the Battlehawks flies her to safety.

The Battlehawks send Chase, Trevor, Pauline and several other pilots to the Pacific Theatre to invade Japanese forces. They join Flying Tigers, an US pilot group led by commander Blake, over Burma to harrass Japanese ground units and battleships there. The White Rose soon resurfaces, unraveling to the Battlehawks that a meeting between German and Japanese officials would soon occur somewhere in Siam. The Flying Tigers and Battlehawks try to fly there as soon as possible, but Pauline gets shot down. However, she manages to bail out. She then gets captured by Japanese army on the ground who take her to a POW camp. The Battlehawks make a raid on the camp and Pauline gets away in a stolen transport plane. On their way back, the Nemesis fighters attack them and shoot Trevor down. His fate is left unknown. The Tigers retreat to China, while Chase lands on the USS Yorktown. Taking on the desperate gamble, the Americans send all three carriers (Yorktown, Hornet and Enterprise) to ambush to encroaching forces at the Battle of Midway. After a lengthy battle with Japanese fighters, bombers and dive bombers, Chase single handedly destroys the Hiryu, the final Japanese carrier, thereby solidifying the US victory at Midway, and forcing the Japanese on the retreat.

Chase soon flies back to Europe, adamant in finding the missing German U-Boat with the Battlehawks. Doctor Niels Bohr soon makes contact with the Allies, requesting a defection in return for trading the secret weapons program Germany has been manufacturing. Instrumental in atomic research, the Battlehawks pull Doctor Bohr out of occupied Europe and back to England, with Chase and Rork safeguarding the Doctor's withdrawal over land and over sea. The information Doctor Bohr reveals is highly disturbing, the German U-Boat that evaded attack in Siam had transported the equipment necessary to construct a new type of heavy bomber. Worst of all, the first prototypes were being field tested by Nemesis on the outskirts of Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. Chase assists the Soviets during the Battle of Stalingrad, who have pledged a tank platoon to an attack on the Nemesis runway. One of the prototypes has already taken off with escort from Krieger. Chase shoots it down, but Krieger survives. The Battlehawks devise a plan with Chase flying independently, to fly out to the secret air base in Western that houses the experimental bomber. The mission succeeds. The Battlehawks find out that the Nemesis are using a hydrofacility in Norway in order to construct an atomic bomb. Determined not to let this happen, the Battlehawks fly out to the facility with Trevor, who had returned from his escape from the Pacific, and destroy it. The Battlehawks then try to capture Messerschmit Me-262, a jet powered new German fighter. Chase first joins a B-17 crew to help dealing with German fighters, then parachutes into the airbase, steals the Me-262 and flies off with it.

The White Rose spends a whole year, desperately trying to find the location of Germany's top secret base where the experiments of their new projects take place. The location is found at Peenemunde, in North Germany. Chase and Cedrick fly there and get attacked by even newer prototype planes, Me-163 Komet. They shoot down and kill Cedrick, but Chase disperses the Komets, and finishes the destruction of the base. White Rose reveals to the Battlehawks that the location of the factory that houses the fuel and guidance systems necessary for the V1 and V2 deep in Harz Mountains. Chase volunteers for the mission, which happens at night. He, Trevor and Rork fly out on the mission, countering everything Germany has to throw at them, including brand new Wasserfall anti aircraft missiles. The destruction of the factory is successful, further impeding the German's plans. The D-Day landings become the final showdown where the Battlehawks destroy the remaining V1 and V2 launch sites in Normandy, as they pose a huge threat to the landing forces. Although they destroy launch sites, the Nemesis shows up with Daimler Benz-C, a giant German prototype bomber piloted by Krieger. Supporting German aircraft shoot down Trevor and Rork's planes somewhere on the beach, while Pauline stays in the air and guides Chase, who finally destroys the Daimler Benz-C and kills Krieger. With the landings at Normandy secure, the campaign ends, and the player is introduced to the final cut scene, where the narrator briefly describes the struggle that James Chase and the Battlehawks will face now, now that they have set in motion the liberation of Europe. Chase, ending the journal he has kept throughout the campaign, remarks, "I'm one of the lucky ones, I guess. I've lived to fight one more day."

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PS2) 79.74%[1]
(Xbox) 75.47% [2]
(PC) 73.41% [2]
Metacritic (PS2) 81/100 [3]
(Xbox) 77/100 [4]
(PC) 72/100 [5]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 9/10[6]
GameSpot 6.9/10 [7]
IGN 8/10 [8]

Secret Weapons Over Normandy received positive reviews upon release. It averages scores of 79.74% (PS2), 75.47% (Xbox), and 73.41% (PC) on GameRankings,[1][2][2] and 81/100 (PS2), 77/100 (Xbox), and 72/100 (PC) on Metacritic.[3][4][5]

Steve Butts of IGN awarded Secret Weapons Over Normandy awarded the game an 8/10, praising the sound and gameplay but criticized the fact that the Xbox and PC versions felt lackluster when compared to the PS2 version.[8]

Kristan Reed of Eurogamer praised the game, calling it "one of the best kept secrets of the year". He gave it a final score of 9/10.[6]

Jeff Gerstmann of Gamespot was a little more critical. He praised the simple controls and graphics but noted that they don't excel in any one area, and criticized the lack of challenge, scoring it a 6.9/10.[7]

Controversy[edit]

A brief controversy was also when the first previews of the game were shown with copyrighted images of ace pilot Erich Hartmann being portrayed as the main villain. Hartmann's family subsequently threatened legal action, but the images were later removed and replaced with those of Hans-Ulrich Rudel for use in the actual game.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Secret Weapons Over Normandy". GameRankings. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Secret Weapons Over Normandy". GameRankings. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Secret Weapons Over Normandy". Metacritic. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Secret Weapons Over Normandy". Metacritic. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Secret Weapons Over Normandy". Metacritic. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Eurogamer Secret Weapons Over Normandy". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2015-02-06. 
  7. ^ a b "Secret Weapons Over Normandy Review". Gamespot. Retrieved 2015-02-06. 
  8. ^ a b "Secret Weapons Over Normandy Review". IGN. Retrieved 2015-02-06. 

External links[edit]