Heroes of Normandy – PC Game Review
Heroes of Normandy PC Game Review. Publisher: Slitherine Price $24.89 (STEAM)
Passed Inspection: Great conversion from board game. Easy to learn. Fun. Excellent graphics and sound. Humorous game play.
Failed Basic: More beer and pretzels than a serious war game. Scope is limited. Good dice rolls can make or break your plan too often. Tutorial can be confusing. Line of site seems a little wonky.
Heroes of Normandy is based upon the extremely popular beer and pretzels board war game of the same name. The theme of the game is that the players are thrown in to the European Theater of World War II but with a twist, all the characters, missions and situations are based on Hollywood’s version of World War II as exhibited in their huge budget war films of the 1960s and 70s. Therefore, you play with caricatures of Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, Sir Peter O’Toole, Donald Sutherland and other great war film actors.
The computer game simulates the board game down to the use of chits and tiles for the characters, vehicles and terrains as well as allowing the rolling of virtual six sided die for combat resolution. When a unit is damaged you see bullet holes in the counters and when a unit is destroyed, you see its counter picked up and blown in to bits!
Each unit is either a hero, a squad or a vehicle with each hero having his or her name and likeness taken from a popular Hollywood character. There are more characters based upon American or British actors than German actors but one can still find such characters as “Otto” aka Karl-Otto Alberty, the Tiger tank commander in “Kelly’s Heroes”. One of my favorite allied characters is “Oddball”, the eccentric Sherman tank commander as played by Donald Sutherland also in “Kelly’s Heroes”.
When starting the game, the player can choose to play either a well structured, but at times confusing, tutorial game, a skirmish, a campaign game or a multiplayer game. You are also given the option of creating your own battle. Any game can be played either from the German or the Allied perspective. The multiplayer game allows for internet gaming over the internet in a semi-simultaneous, turn based manner. Also included is a PDF instruction manual and a WIKI which includes all the units in the game.
Each unit is rated for offensive strength, defensive strength and movement speed. In addition other ratings such as special abilities and weapons also affect the units during combat. The vehicles represented are jeeps, half tracks, armored cars and tanks such as the Sherman and Panzer IV. Units have facings so by attacking the flanks you can get an attack bonus. In addition, tanks may rotate their turrets to attack units to their sides or rears. An example of special abilities would be Oddball’s special “Positive Waves” ability which allows Oddball’s tank to re-roll an attack if need be. Other special abilities include “Hawkeye” for long range sniping, “Fire on the Move” and “Frightening Shot”.
This game really captures the feel of a board game and the sounds, graphics and other atmospherics contribute to this feel.
When units moves or attacks, the player drags a curser representing either the unit or its firing weapon across the screen and on to a square to target. If the unit is moving, you will see its counter move across the screen. If you are not happy with where you moved to, you can “undo” the command and try again. If you shoot, throw a grenade or assault, a dice shows up on the screen and you then “roll the dice” and see what results you get.
When units are damaged, they either show the damage by having smoke or fire erupt from them (as in tanks) or they show bullet holes and reductions in their strength (for heroes and squads). When a unit takes over 50% damage, its virtual counter is flipped over to its reduced side. Other damage effects include loss of mobility, suppression and wounds.
Terrain doesn’t seem to block line of sight the way I expected it to from other games so I found myself very unsure as to what my units could spot and what the effect was from the disruptions to line of sight provided by trees, shrubs and such.
Aside for just shooting or lobbing hand grenades, some units can also close assault other units. This attack can be particularly effective and can allow the assaulting unit to take the square the enemy unit resides in but it also means that if the enemy unit is particularly strong, the assaulting unit can find itself in a great deal of trouble. Use assaults wisely.
A full complement of squad weapons are provided and include panzerfausts, rifle grenades, machine guns, sticky bombs and even sniper rifles.
The trick to this game is using all the assaults you have available in a tactically sound way but even the best plans can fall prey to bad luck and bad die rolls seem to occur regularly. This over reliance on die rolls can be frustrating and takes away from the “reality” of the battle – constantly reminding the player that this is only a game. While I understand the need to have a computer version of a board game feel like the board game itself, I sometimes felt disattached from the goings on.
None-the-less, Heroes of Normandy is a hoot for those not wanting to take their World War II battles so seriously and does offer a nice break from more detail oriented simulations. Take a look soldier – this game is worth it and as Oddball would say it “Enough with the negative waves!”
Armchair General Rating: 91 %
About the Author A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!