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Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII

Product: Blazing Angels
Company: UBI Soft
Website: Official Game Site
Estimated Street Price: $59.99/£49.99
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

The Xbox is crying out for titles like Crimson Skies and Heroes of the Pacific, so it was with great anticipation that Blazing Angels was coming out a few months after the Xbox 360 launch. The game takes place during World War 2 and puts you inside the planes, doing bombing runs, taking down enemies and doing scouting missions. It all sounds like it would be a lot of fun...right?

  • WWII’s most epic and famous air battles. Experience the greatest air battles of World War II in famous locations from across the globe. Whether it’s the invasion of the Philippines, the fierce fighting for the desserts of North Africa, or the battle of Britain, the player and his squadron will be tasked with turning the tide of war.
  • Innovative squadron-based gameplay. AI-controlled wingmen will obey player commands. As the pilot’s skills improve, so will the skills of his squadron. The pilot’s heroism and leadership will grow during the course of the campaign as players fly with their squadron and evolve together into an ace fighting force.
  • A large variety of realistic-looking WWII aircraft. Pilot 40 authentic WWII aircraft including the famous P-51 Mustang, the P-38 Lightning, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt, the Spitfire of Britain and the Japanese Zero. From the wing rivets, to the nose art, to the detailed cockpits, these planes are just like the real thing.
  • Twenty heart-stopping missions in a compelling storyline. Pilots will begin as untrained recruits and evolve through battle experience into ace combat pilots. WWII missions will take place around the globe in places like England, Germany, France, Morocco, Midway and Okinawa.
  • Authentic WWII atmosphere. Fly in close to Germany’s industrial terrain for a bombing raid, strafe the islands of the pacific, or emerge from the cloud cover over London and engage the enemy. The environment looks so real you’ll feel like you’re the pilot in a famous WWII movie.
  • Planes are easy to handle and fun to fly. No need to attend the Air Force Academy to pilot these planes; players can jump right into air combat action.
  • Xbox Live™ for up to 20 players online. Engage in head-to-head dogfights or cooperative team play between squadrons on huge maps with large formations.

Gameplay

Review Quotes
"There are 18 campaign missions in Blazing Angels, though there are a couple of mini campaigns that open up for you if you manage to complete the game. The main campaign missions take you from Dunkirk to Pearl Harbor and over some deserts inbetween."

Experience the greatest air battles of World War II in famous locations from across the globe. Whether it’s the Battle of Britain, the attack of Pearl Harbor or the fierce fighting for the desserts of North Africa, the player and his squadron of Blazing Angels will be tasked with turning the tide of war. Command three separate AI-wingmen and make use of each ones special abilities to both attack and defend their squadron leader. During the course of the twenty mission campaign, the pilot will be accompanied by his squadron and they will grow together as an ace fighting force through the entire length of WWII. Fly in close to Germany’s industrial terrain for a bombing raid, strafe the islands of the pacific, or emerge from the cloud cover over London and engage the enemy.

So you take control of your plane, first thing to do is to take off - you do this by spinning around the right thumbstick until the plane starts to move, and then put the plane into the air. From then on, the first "mission" is basically training, it gets you to understand the controls and come to the conclusion that the voice over work will get on your nerves no end during the game. The controls are well thought out, although bombing runs are a little fiddly. The right trigger button is used to fire your primary weapon (usually guns), secondary weapons can be bombs or a camera to take photos during various missions, this is done by pressing down the right thumbstick while flying. Your Throttle is on the right stick while you move around with the left one. Pulling down on the left trigger allows you to move the camera and follow your current target, this was one of the areas that was the hardest to get used to. Why they didn't use the basic arrow on the HUD to show you where your enemy was I'm not sure.

The first few missions can be a lot of fun early on, the game is basically dogfighting against other planes, though you never get to see them too close as you are always shooting what is basically a crosshair in the distance. The problem is that the fun ends quite quickly as the game becomes very repetitive with the same "Fight off hoards of enemy planes" objective, there are only a few occasions when bombing runs are needed which is a shame, as mixing dogfighting and torpedoing is the most fun part of the game, taking photos is another addition, but an annoying part of the game.

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There are 18 campaign missions in Blazing Angels, though there are a couple of mini campaigns that open up for you if you manage to complete the game. The main campaign missions take you from Dunkirk to Pearl Harbor and over some deserts inbetween. There are also a few other game modes, Arcade mode gives you a timer and places you in the middle of a fight against waves of enemy planes. Ace Duel places you against a single other pilot who is classed as an "Ace", you fight them in an identical plane, they are not very challenging to most gamers, though it will take some time before you finish them all as there are quite a few of those to get through.

The game becomes more fun when you take it online, you can take on up to 16 planes in a single multiplayer game. There are three different modes for soloists, Dogfight - which is basically a deathmatch, can't say I enjoyed this much as there seemed to be no skill involved in it at all. Seek and Destroy has you going after marked planes, the winner being the player who can take down each other pilot in the game at least once. Finally we have Aces High which pits everyone against one "Ace" player, who is the only one who can get any points in the game until he gets shot down, thus creating another ace pilot to carry on the game, this was the game I enjoyed most. The team games online have three additional modes, Capture the base which sees you attempting (and failing quite a lot) to land on others runways to gain points. Next is Bombing run which sees you trying to bomb other bases and finally we have Kamikaze which has you trying to protect your ground targets from kamikaze pilots. The online side of the game is certainly a lot more fun and varied than the single player game, but only if you have a large group playing, otherwise the feel of the game doesn't suit less players.

Graphics & Sound

I have to say I wasn't impressed with Blazing Angels graphically, while the skies can look pretty and some of the smoke effects were excellent, it just felt like a previous generation of game, upscaled to the Xbox 360. The viewing distance was good and there was quite a lot of smaller details on the planes such as rudders and such like. The biggest fault of all here though is that once again in a UBI title - the developers don't seem to have enabled V-Sync, what occurs lots and lots in Blazing Angels is screen tearing, especially on levels that don't have too much going on as the frame rate goes well over the 60 mark. This is unacceptable these days and really is annoying to the gamer when playing a game on a high definition console. The sound work in general is ok, but the voice overs are just plain annoying, not only do they sometimes sound badly acted, they are also repeated over and over again during dogfights and I don't just mean once or twice a mission, I mean into double figures.

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Final Comments


Byron's Gamertag

I did have some fun playing Blazing Angels, most online rather than the main campaign, but I didn't find anything in the whole game that excited me, the dogfighting was ok, but all you really had to do was put the brakes on, turn around shoot, repeat - nothing skillful about it, even online if the truth be told. The graphics were not up to the standard we should be expecting now, with the game looking little more than an upscaled version of the Xbox original and the V-Sync problem is unacceptable for this generation. If you do feel like giving it a go, rent it - Xbox 360 games cost too much as it is to waste it on any of the basic "port" titles that have been coming out recently.

How It Grades
Controls: 75%
Gameplay: 65%
Presentation: 55%
Graphics: 72%
Multiplayer: 72%
Sound: 48%
Interface: 66%
Lastability: 60%
Price/Value: 60%
Overall: 63%
Specs & Package
Overall Score 63%
Version Reviewed Blazing Angels (PAL)
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Blazing Angels DVD-ROM
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Can be fun in short bursts
Online is better than single player
The Bad Points Poor Graphics
Repetitive
Annoying Voice Overs
V-Sync Problems
Xbox Live! Online Play Enabled? Yes
Widescreen Support Yes
PAL 60 Support (Europe) Yes
HD Resolutions 480p
720p
1080i


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