Ever since I discovered Bomber Crew during my pre EGX research I was excited to play it and although I only got a short time with it I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I have been excitedly anticipating the arrival of the review copy so I can give the game a real work out and really experience it fully. Earlier this week I finally got my hands on it and let me just say I wasn’t disappointed.
On the face of it, Bomber Crew is a simple game. Select your mission, carry out your objectives and get your crew home that’s it. The wonderfully cutesie graphics and nice simple tutorial missions only further this misdirection and lull you into a false sense of security.
Once you start the campaign proper you find that there is a wide range of customizable options. Recruiting the right crew members, equipping your crew with gear, kitting out your plane, customizing the paintwork, nose art and fuselage text of your bomber all lead to infinite choices and combinations that can keep you fairly occupied and all this is before you even start your first mission. you could easily lose yourself in these options and I did although I had no idea just how much they were about to expand later in the game. With each completed mission comes money and Intel. Intel is used to unlock upgrades and equipment for your crew and plane. Money is used to purchase said upgrades. As the game progresses the level of customisation and load outs becomes immense.
So with my crew and plane all set to go, it was time to take off for my first mission. A simple affair, fly out to sea, drop some supplies to a stranded soldier and return to base. Everything at first started smoothly, crew management is simple, effective and the controls are fluid and intuitive. Everything was nice and pleasant then somewhere over the English channel it all went to pot.
As I navigated towards the target my radar picked up enemy fighters.Now in order for your gunners to attack the fighters, they need to be tagged. It’s the same mechanic for navigation and bomb targeting, switch to tag mode manoeuvre over the target icon until the outer circle fills and you are done. Except for the electronics on my plane chose that exact moment to short out. I quickly flip back to crew management, assign my engineer, crewman Johnson, to repair the electrics and watch as my plane gets shot to pieces as I desperately try to tag the enemy.
The repairs still aren’t complete as I approach my target. quickly I move my crew member from the front guns to the bomb door and prepare to drop supplies and save the poor soul floating in the water…..except the supplies won’t drop! As I re-navigate for another run at the target the engineer finishes his repairs and I can begin to target the enemy fighters. suddenly I am fighting back. The plane is peppered with holes, the left inner engine is on fire but my guys held in there. This is a crew I can be proud of. we shall go far together.
The gunners begin to pick off the enemy fighters and Johnson shows outstanding levels of courage and bravery as he climbs out of the plane along the wing, puts out the fire on the left inner engine and repairs it. We approach the target once again and still, the supplies won’t drop! Three more runs at the target, god knows how many more fighters, an incalculable amount of holes in the plane, numerous in-flight repairs from the heroic Johnson, a gunner bleeding out and dying and finally I figure out why the supplies won’t drop……… I didn’t open the bomb bay doors.
Doors opened, supplies dropped and all that is left to do is to return home to base. I order the pilot to climb to a high altitude in order to lose the fighters giving chase and sit back and relax as we return to good old blighty. My rookie crew quickly experienced, they left as boys and will return as men. Except for the fact that all those runs at the target without the bomb doors open meant I had used up all my fuel. There was nothing I could do as I sat in my seat, staring at my screen with tears in my eyes as my brave crew plummeted into the freezing cold waters of the English channel.
The pain of losing them was horrific, They had served me so well and I failed them. Such a stupid small thing like not opening the bomb doors cost those brave men their lives. As if the loss wasn’t enough, the game then proceeds to further draw out the torment by spinning a survival wheel for each crew member. Dangling one last thread of hope in front of you for each brave serviceman I failed.
Only my pilot Wilson survived, He is still with me (he is level 7 now) he follows his orders diligently but I know he hasn’t forgiven me and never will. How can he when I cant forgive myself?
The following missions went relatively well, I got all my crew home alive, money and upgrades are piling up nicely, although I never seem to have enough money for all the upgrades. I have even come across two elite fighters and given them a ruddy good to seeing to, yet somehow they always seem to escape.
My crew is a well-oiled machine, as the level up, they unlock special actions. such as my pilot Wilson now has the ability to dive to low altitude in order to put out engine fires and can also corkscrew to avoid enemy fire. Every mission starts with the dread of knowing they might not make it home. Every successful mission ends with the enormous relief of everyone surviving. I know it won’t always be like this, there is no way Bomber Crew will let us survive the war together. War requires sacrifice and I know that sacrifice will hit me hard when its the turn of my crew
All in all Bomber Crew is a nothing short of a masterpiece. A wonderful, emotionally crippling, soul-crushing, adrenaline pumping frantically panicking masterpiece. The game hates you, but you love it for it.
Overall Score – 9.5 / 10