Heroes Over Europe is a World War II air combat game that lies firmly in the arcade category. While this means you can jump into a Spitfire and shoot down Nazi planes without having to worry about losing ammunition or stalling your plane, it also results in a game that just isn't rewarding to play. The repetitive missions, terrible voice acting, and shallow difficulty curve all conspire against Heroes Over Europe, which stalls before it even leaves the runway.
Heroes Over Europe offers a wide selection of aircraft to unlock, from light Spitfires to heavy bombers.
You get to play as four different World War II pilots in the single-player campaign. At first, you play as a newbie pilot in the British Royal Air Force patrolling the country's south coast, and later move on to fight with the New Zealand and United States Air Forces with different characters as they take the fight to Germany. Each pilot describes the war in pre-mission cinematics, which adds a personal spin to the overarching theatre of war, but is let down the terrible voice-acting.
The campaign follows a rough chronological structure, as certain missions with the earlier squadrons are only playable once they've been unlocked later on in the game. Each squadron has its own set of airplanes to fly with, and you can unlock more as you progress, especially if you play at the higher difficulty and perform secondary objectives. That said, the single-player game is quite short with only 14 missions, and the overall easy difficulty and frequent checkpoints mean you don't have to retry too many challenges. The greater problem is that the game is just too repetitive. Each mission may take place in a different location, but the challenges all revolve around dogfighting and bombing, which are often repeated many times over in each mission. There are some imaginative objectives, such as staving off a group of bombers while fire engines try to extinguish a blaze--but shooting planes out of the sky and bombing static targets certainly becomes repetitive in this game.
Heroes Over Europe's headline feature is the "ace kill," which effectively means you can become a midair sniper. The game slows down time, zooms in on your target, and highlights key points on the enemy aircraft, such as the engines or the pilot. The longer you hold your aim on the target before activating an ace kill, the more control you have to aim the reticle on these weak spots, allowing you to take an enemy down in a single shot. Sadly, the feature soon becomes repetitive and rather joyless, even with the allure of earning more points for a streak of ace kills. It's slightly more fun to employ standard dogfighting techniques, because enemies often fly in groups and can be taken down with a single pass. However, this means that the dogfighting isn't challenging or rewarding, as enemy pilots do little to evade you, even at the higher difficulty level.
Heroes Over Europe is very much an arcade game, so you can't stall your plane, take a cockpit view, or even issue basic commands to your wingmen. There are two different control schemes: arcade, where the left analog stick banks the plane; and professional, where the stick rolls the plane instead. There's not much difference between the two control schemes, but if you're used to flight sims, you'll want to choose the latter. You can make things slightly more difficult by moving from rookie to pilot or ace for each mission, and the highest difficulty makes the AI slightly more evasive while also removing the aiming-assist reticle.