Bomber Crew is a strategy game in which you control a crew aboard a World War 2 bomber plane, you are tasked with various missions from bombing runs to dropping supplies to stranded allies, and have to deal with ensuring your crew make it back alive, as the game features perma-death.
You start out at RAF Woodbridge, your home base. From here you can recruit new crew members, assign their gear and train them. You also have the ability to customise your Bomber from liveries to equipment and armour. I’ll go into a little more detail about these later. First off the game introduces you to the controls via a tutorial. While the tutorial is comprehensive it’s relatively short, there is a text based tutorial that you can browse over in the menu if you struggle to get to grips with everything after completing the main tutorial. I did take an hour or so to get thoroughly familiarised with the controls and how everything works, but once it clicks it’s a breeze.
Once the tutorial is over you are then shown the basics of customising your Bomber and recruiting new crew members, (you need 7 to get the most out of your plane). once you’re ready to hit the skies, you head over to the Briefing room, here you will have a number of missions, they vary in length and how risky they are, it’s definitely best to choose something just the other side of the channel to get going with successfully completing missions, and earning much needed (£)pounds and intel. Pounds are used for upgrading your Bomber and crew outfits, that gradually unlock with better items as you accumulate intel (a form of XP awarded for completing missions and various tasks).
Your crew can be kitted out with numerous items of clothing from helmets and masks, to boots and gloves. Each item has specific plus and minuses when equpping them, so a flak helmet will provide better armour and resistance to the cold, but will make your crew member slower, and so on. As you complete missions your crew will also level up, providing bonuses to use while out on missions. Gunners, for example, can recieve a focus bonus that can be activated for a period of time enabling them to focus and become more accurate with shooting, these bonuses also have a cooldown period. Crew members can also be assigned a secondary skill once levelled up enough, enabling them to perform other tasks such as healing crew members or repairing damaged areas of the Bomber.
As for the Bomber, theres loads of things to do to it, from simply renaming it and changing its livery (there’s an emblem editor too to add logos to wings etc.) to adding upgraded engines that are stronger and allow more weight to be carried, in turn allowing for better guns and other equpment to be added, intel allowing of course. This leads to one of the points that I didn’t like about the game, the feeling of needing to grind side missions to get the bomber and crew at a decent enough level to take on the main missions successfully. I did make the mistake of hitting the skies hard and fast early on and went for the second main mission quite under equipped, leading to losing one of my crew members who died as my Bomber crash landed on the runway (yes this led to mission failed) returning back from the mission having taken a pummeling from enemy aircraft. I can safely say that had the enemy not retreated once we were back in British skies I would have lost the whole crew. Anyway my lost crew member is now just a name in the momorial on the main menu. R.I.P F/SGT. Barbara Buahin..
After this set back I spent a good few hours grinding the side missions to get myself better equipped with a brand new Bomber to take on the second main mission, so with Armoured Mk 4 engines all round, and three .303×2 + Ammo feed turrets plus a .50×2 Mk 1 turret I set off and breezed through the mission. I then found myself doing the same in the run up to the third main mission. It feels a little grindy, especially when you are repeating some missions a few times over. Though I have to say there’s never a dull moment. you’re constantly switching between crew members making sure they’re full of health and that guners have re-stocked ammo, even the engineer can be sent of to repair damaged engines and other equipment. The game feels most involving during heavy attack from enemy planes, especially when an Ace is in the air, you’ll be kept on your toes that’s for sure.
So more on the gameplay, you don’t actually fly the Bomber or shoot anything yourself, the game is set up for you to tag waypoints and the pilot will adjust course accordingly, the same goes for shooting at enemy planes, you tag them as they appear on the radar and your gunners will do the rest, the most involving crew member is your Bomb Aimer, you have to command them to open the bomb doors, what bomb amount to prepare to drop and finally you tell them when to drop the bomb, with the aid of the ground targetting system that appears on the HUD. You do have to give other crew members orders, such as the pilot, who you tell to fly at different altitudes, and perform emergency dives (when unlocked) etc. Your engineer will gladly climb out on to the wings and repair broken engines when you tell him to too.
Visually Bomber Crew is simplistic with a blocky style. It works well though, and gives the game some charm, maybe even making the game more inviting for those that would stay away if it were more photorealistic. The audio is middle ground, with decent tracks that come in and out as you play, picking up as you approach bombing targets and engage in combat, the characters have this strange mumble about them when speaking, with what they’re actually saying popping up in speech bubbles, this can be a little confusing and often you can miss key bits of info if you’re busy looking at something else.