B-17 Gunner: Air War Over Germany
So as to not mislead anyone, this is not a B-17 Flying Fortress simulation. Far from it. B-17 Gunner: Air War Over Germany is strictly an arcade "wave" or "melee" shooter from the fine folks at Infogrames’ Missile Command, Asteroids, and Beach Head (the updated version, Beach Head 2000, is also from WizardWorks) it’s up to you to shoot down wave after increasing wave of attacking bad guys. B-17 Gunner wraps this endless orgy of destruction in a historical facade representing the heroic and very dangerous missions of the legendary WWII bomber. This is the very same concept used in another current WizardWorks game , with very much the same results. More blah than boom. It is twenty-five ever increasingly hectic missions, as part of the Army Air Corps’ 8th Air Force, over various German factories and cities; watch your briefing, fly in, drop your load, fly out. Using all the gunnery stations at your disposal and the bombsight, your goal is to protect your bomber during ingress and egress, while dropping bombs when over target. That’s about it. I bet the real crews wished their flights from England to Germany and back were as short. The game must use some kind of inter-dimensional warp.(hey, if it works for deer hunting, it’ll work for fighter plane hunting). That is, in the venerable tradition of such classic games as
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
B-17 Gunner’s interface and gameplay is simplicity itself. Your whole game is played from a gunnery station or (for a few minutes) the bombsight. You don’t fly this bird. You don’t land this bird. You’re just along for the ride. While you can use the arrow keys to move your guns, it’s a very inefficient way of targeting -- a joystick is the recommended gunnery tool. You have six gunnery stations and each are fairly well represented (must be where the advice of the veterans of the 390th Bombardment Group comes in). Most have narrow fields of fire and jumping from one station to another can actually lead to missing out on attacking fighters. The best spot to rack up points is from the top turret, as most of the Luftwaffe start out their runs from a high 6 o’clock approach (much too high for the rear gunner). The AI in the German planes isn’t too smart, as the aircraft tend to follow the same maneuvers (come in from behind high, sweep, bank and turn, and come in head to head) time and time again. Here’s something that will disappoint not a few -- you can’t shoot down your fellow bombers. You can’t even put holes in your own wing. This reviewer tried... numerous times. Man, that would have been very cool! As for the bombing aspect -- for a game featuring one of the premiere bombers of WWII, it feels more like an afterthought. One second you’re banging away at Bf 109s, the next you’re peering through the crosshairs of the bombsight. Buildings come into view, do a little crosshair maneuvering and bombs away. Sometimes a near miss is a hit. Sometimes a dead-on hit is a miss. Go figure.
Multiplayer might have redeemed this game somewhat. Just imagine the fun of some folks crewing the guns and others attacking with fighters. Sorry. Not going to happen. You’ll have to go back to playing Hasbro’s.
Ah, graphics. As mentioned above, the gunnery stations are well depicted. The group of B-17s and the buzzing fighters that surround your ship are also fairly detailed. Hard to really tell with the fighters (you get a list of the various one like Bf 109s and FW 190s, but again, it’s hard to tell) as they tend to zip by at a high rate of speed (which is realistic, no doubt). The enemy planes do break up nicely when hit. Damage modeling, however, is limited to what’s outside your plane. Crewmembers will yell about their plexi-glass shattering but this reviewer never saw damage to any gunnery station. Terrain modeling is almost non-existent as you seem to be always flying above a low-pressure system made up of a thin layer of hazy clouds. The few times you do see actual terrain features, it’s through the bombsight as your target (usually a tiny grouping of building-like objects) slides slowly underneath. Even with an Athlon 800 and 192MB RAM (not to mention a 64MB 3D card), the game got sluggish when too many aircraft were on the screen.
The aircraft sounds (bombers droning, fighters roaring) are quite good. The gunnery seems to be on the anemic side however. There’s a lot of intercom chatter that’s supposed to be authentic (guys bitching about one thing or another or the pilot telling them to shut up) but it gets old really fast. The immersion factor simply isn’t there.
P II 300MHz, Windows 95/98/ME, 64MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM, and 8MB 2X AGP or 12 MB PCI video card.
For the very indiscriminate gamer, or those just crawling out of a 1982 bomb shelter, this would be the cat’s meow. For exactly twenty minutes. Folks, it gets old and repetitious in a big hurry. Sometimes back to basics can be good... or at least fun -- look at Falcon 4.0. It’s even questionable as a tribute to the very real heroes who crewed these mighty planes. At least the CD-ROM does look pretty when held at an angle in the light.. B-17 Gunner attempts to rekindle those quarter spending days and nights at the arcade. Nothing wrong with just shooting at things, right? Perhaps gamers today are a bit jaded -- our expectations are sky-high. We have no room or time or money for games that don’t knock our socks off and do the laundry at the same time. Whatever the reason, B-17 Gunner just doesn’t do it. Nostalgia or no nostalgia, the game starts out fun and then descends like a coal truck on its way to hell. This makes Hasbro’s quirky B-17 look like