B-17 Gunner: Air War Over Germany
Windows - 2001
Description of B-17 Gunner: Air War Over Germany Windows
Here's what the folks at WizardWorks have to say about this title:
B-17 Gunner: Air War Over Germany is an arcade style World War Two game. While the game offers a glimse [sic] of what the bomber crew experience was during the war, B-17 Gunner is not a simulation. The goal is simple: survive 25 missions over enemy territory. Your skill as both gunner and bombadier [sic] will be the determining factor between success and failure. The enemy is well-trained and equiped [sic] with the best fighter interceptors available -- and he will be coming at you with cannons blazing. Good luck!
Three spelling errors in the space of 92 words doesn't bode well, but better yet, later in the manual, the name of the game itself mutates to B-17 Gunner: Airwar Over Germany. The only question at this point is whether the game will be as sloppy as its documentation. Considering B-17 Gunner comes from the same publisher that brought us Pearl Harbor: Defend the Fleet, this qualifies as a rhetorical question.
B-17 Gunner (and once-per-mission Bombardier) strips away so much of the experience of a bomber crew that all that remains is a glimpse. And even at the speed of a glimpse, usually defined as "brief" or "quick," the experience is slow enough to re-ignite the desire in otherwise mature adults to fidget, whine and demand to know, "Are we there yet?"
The first few minutes after installation are promising. B-17 Gunner's menus are crisp and functional, efficiently evoking nostalgia for the last big war everyone outside the Axis felt really good about. It's a mood that quickly dissipates once actual gameplay begins. As the Introduction says, this is not a sim. The Flying Fortress in B-17, rather like the eternally damned Flying Dutchman, never takes off and never lands. There is no navigation required and no actual piloting. The bomber crew experience has been compressed to shoot, drop, shoot some more.
"Again?" -- Rocket J. Squirrel
The mission structure never varies. After a briefing (a paragraph of copy and an aerial view of the target), you are immediately airborne, sitting in the top turret of one of a formation of B-17s. Waves of enemies swarm around the formation and you can choose to remain in the top turret or jump instantly to any of your B-17's other gun positions.
Should the gun position you happen to be occupying get destroyed, you are immediately moved to the next functional gun position. This continues until you are abruptly transformed from a Gunner into a Bombardier. Remember the aerial view from the briefing? Bombs away! On the way home, waves of enemies swarm around the formation and you can choose to remain in the top turret or jump instantly... say, wasn't that the drill on the way out?
Repeat this bang-bang out, boom-boom target, bang-bang back a mere 24 more times and you've gotten a glimpse (or glimse) of what it was like to be a Gunner and Bombardier aboard the legendary B-17. Once you have finished all the missions on Easy, you can try it all again on Medium and then again on Hard. Or not.
Out of curiosity, I tried just sitting in the top turret as waves of enemies swarmed. While several of the gun positions were eventually too damaged to operate, the B-17 itself flew through the blizzard of lead without any problems. Not dropping your bombs, however, is a problem. It'll earn you a FAILURE rating for the mission. Mercifully, you are not punished for failing a mission by being required to fly it again. You simply move on to the next mission. And the next. And the next. And the next.
Your B-17 can't be harmed by the seemingly infinite supply of bullets you can muster by simply pulling a trigger. Nor can your guns ever overheat or jam. Take care where you spray all that lead, however, because it is possible to shoot down the B-17s around you. On second thought, don't worry about it. You can shoot down all the B-17s around you and, as long as your bombs hit the target, still have a successful mission. That's right. You can slaughter everyone else in your formation and still be a hero. Is this a subversive and cynical statement about the willingness of capitalist society to reward the utterly ruthless or is it something more sinister? Something like, say, garden-variety sloppiness?
Old Echoes and New Targets
While the radio chatter offered by B-17 is not badly done, there is not enough of it to keep it from rapidly growing repetitious. After the fourth or fifth identical mention of comic books, pretty nurses, powdered eggs and hemorrhoids, the temptation to play the game in silence is nearly irresistible.
And then there is the matter of the images of your targets. What a surprise that more than a few of the photos allegedly depicting targets deep within Nazi Germany look suspiciously like aerial views of the contemporary suburbs of Indianapolis, coincidentally where developer Sunstorm Interactive is headquartered. Imagine the thrill of dropping a virtual bomb on the image of the site where the game that features the dropping of virtual bombs was developed (it's quite possible Sunstorm's offices are depicted in-game, after all). Better still, just imagine it. That'll take a whole lot less time than actually wading through all 25 of this painfully thin title's missions.
Review By GamesDomain
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