Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
As Far As flying titles go, Blazing Angels skips the 500-page manuals of a hardcore sim and goes straight for the arcade jugular. It's got a flying model that's easy enough for the most rookie of pilots, unlimited ammo and the ability to repair your plane in mid-flight.
Flying around is pretty enjoyable, and as the game features most of the major air battles of WWII - from defending the Houses Of Parliament in The Battle For Britain to taking out the Japanese fleet in Midway - it also offers good variety in terms of mission type and planes to pilot.
The main selling point, however, is the sguad-based system, with a small squadron of planes that fly alongside you offering some extra abilities, from an ace pilot to an engineer who can repair damage to your plane. Unfortunately, as well as dispelling the last remnants of realism, this also makes the game so easy your five-year-old niece could shoot down the Red Baron.
Add to that some disappointing graphics on the ground, a handful of bugs (our plane exploded three times on the runway before we even got to take control and we couldn't get two joypads to work), and the fact that the title's hardly progressed the genre since the last big arcade flying title (Secret Weapons Over Normandy, already over two years old), and this is one title that we can't help but shoot down in flames.
Download Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
Wait, what? Ubisoft is charging the full $60 for this mostly unchanged port (you get one new multiplayer mode) of a 6-month-old Xbox 360 game that barely looked next gen to begin with? Who cleared that idea for takeoff? Patient players will find fun singleplayer missions about halfway into the game, and the online multiplayer modes here are pretty cool. But the business-class frills here aren't worth the first-class price.
Unless you're desperate for a PS3 game to play online--or one that uses the Sixaxis' motion-sensing stuff--wait for Angels to land in the discount bin.
Playing games like this tends to make me not want to play games for a while. You know the ones, the sort of game that you're going to play in pieces, groan a little when you go through the same 5 seconds of fun fifteen times in a row. I'm talking about the games that are too boring to care much about, and just fun enough to keep you playing, for a while at least.
Blazing Angels unfortunately earns its wings in this category, delivering a very tepid and predictable experience. Play through a series of battles in WWII, some noteworthy, some not. Packed, with long, occasionally frustrating, and generally unrewarding gameplay, my primary complaint with this title is that it doesn't seem to live up to its own concept. This is definitely arcade style flight sim action, but with too much flight sim, and not enough arcade to be really fun.
The game does have one saving grace, and that is the follow camera. By gripping the right trigger, you lock the camera onto your opponent, tracking him constantly throughout your dogfight. Although it's a little hard to get the hang of, in the end it gives you a real advantage over previous titles. I'm not certain if this is the first time that the follow camera has been used in this way, but if it is, kudos to Ubisoft.
Graphically, Blazing Angels is actually much less impressive in motion than the screenshots would imply. With a fair amount of jaggies, and some occasional framerate issues, there is none the less some nice smoke and cloud effects. Basically, if you squint your eyes, this might look like just any other older action title right down to the square target markers. Unfortunately, things get worse if you turn up the volume. The sound isn't balanced well, so the sound effects can get excessively loud at times, and some of the enemy voice acting can border on what I can only describe as racially insulting.
Ultimately, I wish I didn't have anything bad to say about this game. I think there's a serious lack of good gaming on the 360 right now, but with games like this, we aren't going to be able to do anything about it anytime soon.