At any other point in the last, oh, decade, an air combat game would be a novelty. Unfortunately for Ubisoft, last month's fantastic IL-2 Sturmovik has just made WWII air combat sexy again. And if IL-2 gets us hot under the collar, Heroes Over Europe is like a bucket of ice-cold water.
For a start, it's remarkably ugly. It's not the easiest job in the world creating a landscape that looks as good when you're swooping past trees and buildings as it does from thousands of metres up, and Heroes does a rotten job of it.
The scale is off, so your plane is enormous compared to buildings, and the ground is a mass of blurry textures and gritty trees. Oh, and they're the grubbiest White Cliffs of Dover we've ever seen.
The dogfighting itself is equally tepid. For some reason, the developer added a bullet time "Ace Kill" system - tail an enemy for long enough and a meter fills up, allowing you to click LB and slow time.
You then aim for critical components and take them out in a single shot. The problem is, by the time you've followed them for long enough to perform an Ace Kill, you might as well have just peppered them to death with standard machine gun fire. It'd be less repetitive if your squadmates actually did their jobs - you seem to be the only pilot interested in shooting down Nazis.
The rest are there for "cabbage crates over the briny" RAF waffle, so rather than fighting a few intelligent enemies, the game has you taking out a million stupid ones.
And this is not a game that can handle millions of enemies. This is proved by the early appearance of the Blitz in London, where waves of bombers fill the sky. It would be one of the game's few impressive moments were it not for the fact that it begins to chug horribly as soon as the bombers appear on screen.
With IL-2 asserting impressive air superiority in the last month or so, there's no reason to pick up this ropier and less satisfying interpretation of the same conflict. Technically unimpressive and snooze-inducing, it's less "chocks away" and more "chock this in the bin".
A plane game that's very plain
- Decent banter
- Boring combat
- Ugly environments
- Occasionally chugs
- Ineffectual squadmates