There are a lot of things that games have to simplify to make them "doable" in terms of gameplay. From complex bullet velocity to the minutiae of running a city, there's a lot that gets glossed over when it comes to making a game that "works" - but flying a plane is perhaps one of the less obvious examples. After all, despite what Call of Duty might have you believe, it takes more than just one stick to fly a plane. A fully manned WW2 Avro Lancaster bomber, for example (chosen completely at random, you understand), required a crew of 7 just to get it off the ground - and even then, people had to double up their jobs. Jumping from gunner to bomb aimer to radio operator to navigator and back again was all part and parcel of the job (especially when crew members got injured) - and it's this hot seat swapping mania that Bomber Crew looks to recreate.
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Sitting somewhere on the "not all that realistic" side of the simulation spectrum, Bomber Crew tasks you with commanding your very own spiffing new Lancaster. After hiring your crew (all with auto generated names, including some crackers like "Dorothy Perkins"), it's then up to you to essentially micromanage your flight, from take off to landing, as you deal with everything from engine fires to enemy fighters, not to mention actually figuring out where to drop your bombs. Already a smash hit on PC, Bomber Crew will be coming to PS4, Xbox One, and even Nintendo's Switch at some point during the coming months - and so we decided to have a bit of a closer look.
And yikes, can Bomber Crew get overwhelming. While it's perhaps not quite as unforgiving as you might imagine, Bomber Crew certainly throws a lot of plates at you to keep spinning, and gives you very little time in which to keep them turning. Though your crew may be completely competent at their jobs, they're also seemingly entirely incapable of making any decisions for themselves, as they're relying on you to tell them how to do everything. While your gunners can blast any jerries out of the sky, they won't know where to shoot unless you manually zoom the camera out, go into targeting mode, and highlight the enemy planes to tell them; while your pilot may know how to fly, he won't know where to go unless you manually rotate the camera to tag the navigation waypoints your navigator sets for you - and if you tell him to land, you'd better remind him to put his landing gear down first, as he's a bit of a forgetful old chap. Needless to say, it's all very hands on, all very involved - and in the heat of battle, it means things have the potential to start going very very wrong, very very quickly.
Having the right crew in the right place at the right time is key to your survival in Bomber Crew, and you'll need to be sure you micromanage your staff to the best of their ability. From having to move your front gunner into the bomb aimer's position, and then select them personally so you can first open your bomb bay doors, then arm your bombs, and then drop them at the right time as the target appears in the crosshairs, to having to make tricky decisions about what you can do without should a crew member get injured, no two missions will play out in the same way. And it's not just your crew that can get injured, either - should your plane's hydraulics system take a hit, not only will you not be able to put your landing gear down, but you won't be able to use your turrets either - not great if you've got a few fighters on your tail.
Of course, the more experienced your crew get, the better they'll get at handling their emergencies, with each crew member receiving XP and levelling up at the end of each mission. Along with XP, successfully completed missions will also earn you cash, which you can spend on upgrades for your crew (like armour plated helmets), or new bits for your Lancaster, from cosmetic upgrades (like the all important nose art, which you can even design yourself thanks to the in-game tool), to more technical upgrades that make a big difference to how the plane handles in combat. With great innovations like automatic fire extinguishers for your engines, or even a ventral turret on offer- something which was an incredibly rare feature on Lancasters in real life, with very very few photos of it in existence, but one which shows the levels of research the developers have put into having that authenticity in the game - the better you do, the more gizmos you'll be able to buy, in turn making your life that little bit easier.
With a branching campaign to sink your teeth into, and more potential for flight suited mayhem than almost any game you've played, Bomber Crew is out now on PC, and will launch on PS4, Xbox One and Switch at a point in 2018 which we'd wager is more likely to be early than late. We'll be sure to take her for a spin and put her through her paces as soon as she's released.