Good morning, new recruit. My name is Colonel Lieutenant Dan Forrest Lethbridge-Stewart Gump. I’m your leader in this perilous mission to learn more about the wonders of Bomber Crew. Sit up straight and pay attention.
The year is 1942 and we remain in the trenches of World War 2. The British Army, in the midst of their seemingly endless fight against the invading German army – never referred to as the Nazi’s but most definitely are -, take it upon themselves to leave the survival of their bomber crews in the hands of you, young soldier. You’ll need to take on this flight/management endeavour with as much fervor as you can muster, particularly in learning how to do both at the exact same time. Now, tally ho. Let me teach you all about the Bomber Crews.
You have one task and one task only out there, and that is to survive. Whilst you’re up in the sky you have little else that you need to focus on, apart from emerging victorious from a dogfight with the enemy planes of course. It’s not going to be easy – and it rarely is – but alongside your surveillance and reconnaissance, you’ll be able to learn a good deal of what you did right and wrong and fly straight back into the fight once again to give it a jolly good British try.
Now then, do not think that every mission will be fruitless. At each mission you’ll earn vital cash and XP that will enable you to upgrade your crew members, whether it be the pilots, the mechanical crew to ensure the plane stays in the air or the gunners. You’ll have the view of the entire plane and its surroundings at all times, so the missions that require somewhat more precision and accuracy will ensure you’re always in control. The long and short of it, if something goes belly up you have nobody else to blame but yourself. Everything is at your disposal to ensure safe passage for yourself and your crew, each skirmish will come with its bruises but rest assured you’ll come out stronger on the other side. We aim for glory and glory alone, and we will only ever succeed by failing and understanding our enemy more. The more you succeed the higher you can upgrade your crew and your planes.
Okay, enough trying to talk like a stuffy Lieutenant…
Bomber Crew is all about perseverance. The most important aspect of the entire game, and something you’ll need to learn quickly if you want to succeed is that preparation is key. Before each mission you’ll find yourself back at the base, where you can upgrade your crew, your plane, hire new crew and even customise your planes design. This is rather fun as it allows usage of your PSN avatar, so I was tearing it up in the skies with a great pic picture of Aloy from Horizon on the side of my spitfire with the neon lights proving to be a welcome distraction from how tough this game actually is. It’s nice to be able to bring a bit of light to proceedings, especially considering how the presentation of Bomber Crew is so light and fluffy, the actual gameplay is anything but. Customising your crew, your plane, changing out turrets and engines are essential to have ready before you choose your next mission.
The leap to console was never going to be easy for a game like Bomber Crew. It’s so clearly been designed for mouse and keyboard, to move it to a DualShock has meant movement and selections are about as good as they probably can be, and even then it’s not particulary controller friendly to navigate the menus until you have the movement down after a few practises. It’s not the fault of the game per se, it’s been an issue for the longest time, trying to work out just how to recreate the mouse and keyboard experience for a simulator on a console, you have to wonder if anyone has ever really done it perfectly. Still, there are some nice shortcuts which you can take advantage of and each button you need is more or less on the screen at all times. The actual controls within the game are surprisingly minimal, there’s not an awful lot to remember so you should get your head around it in no time, though if you’re going from PC and console it may be a little bit of a shock.
So moving your crew around is easy enough and they’re going to be on the move within your plane for most of each mission repairing the ship, regaining health and replenishing ammunition. Getting deep in the thick of the action can become a tad overwhelming, with messages coming in think and fast from radio comms to ensuring the each crew member is at their correct station, particularly when you’re under attack. It becomes chaotic, and even if you think you’re all set it’s quite easy to lose track of what you’re meant to be doing at any given moment.
The most important thing you need to do as the giant person in the sky tellng these folk what to do is to tag everything around them they need to focus on. Whether it be an icon of enemy planes, landing areas or photo locations. A quick hold down of L2 and you’re set and the tagging is quick and simple enough, your crew will then turn and ensure their firing or bomb dropping are heading in those specific directions. You can easily zoom around your plane to notice anything that’s surrounding you which allows you to keep on top of any attacks or locations that you need your crew to focus on and there’s little wiggle room in terms of errors and mistakes. Your crew will pay for lack of attention to detail and very quick decisions that need to be made against impossible odds. It’s daunting, and it’s all cute and cuddly on the outside.
When speaking to a PC-gamer friend of mine about Bomber Crew, he told me that he was never all that bothered about losing a crew member as they can be replaced so easily back at the base. You don’t grow attached to them as you know little about them. Playing the game I understood where he was coming from though I took great pleasure in naming my crew individually after people in my own life. Specifically, the FG crew along with some friends. To watch them all perish because I didn’t prepare enough for the mission was
gratifying kinda frustrating, though you get through so many recruits it almost became ‘survival of the fittest’ at one point, like it was almost a Hunger Games-esque punishment to be chosen to go up in the plane with me at the helm. The crew members must have worked out they were eventually going to die, but dammit they volunteered anyway. Heroes, the lot of them. The game keeps count of how many crew members you lose. I stopped looking at it in the end.
Bomber Crew is difficult and begins with a cumbersome tutorial and a fiddly control scheme. If you’re willing to stick it out past the tutorial though you’ll discover a rewarding, thrilling experience that keeps you focused and holds your attention better than most simulators of late, purely because you’ll just fail if you’re not paying full attention to every little cog in this particular machine. It’s fast and frantic and takes no prisoners and that’s just what it should be.
See you in the skies.
Bomber Crew is out now on Xbox One, Switch, PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro) and PC.
Developer: Runner Duck Games
Publisher: Curve Digital
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we were provided with a review code from the publisher. For our full review policy please go here.