Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
Will this do anything to advance WWII games?
Xbox 360, Xbox, PC
By John Gold
If there's one thing the last decade has taught us it's that World War II games are not going anywhere. Ever since Steven Spielberg gave the war it first big push in PlayStation FPS Medal of Honor, gamers have been going gaga for the Big One. The arrival of the Xbox 360 hasn't changed that trend, and Ubisoft is just one of the companies in the mix. Unfortunately, what could have been a fun flying game is marred by samey design that drags the experience down.
The game starts with you playing as a US pilot helping out the Royal Air Force during the early stages of World War II. A brief training mission that brings you up to speed on the relatively loose and arcadey controls is followed by an aerial skirmish at Dunkirk. From there you'll flit to all the major air campaigns of the war, which means the Battle of Britain, Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway and more. Think of it as a greatest hits of World War II air battles.
A big plus to the game is the short amount of time it will take you to get comfortable with your aircraft. Flying is as straightforward as it gets and the addition of a targeting camera that locks you onto your next victim makes keeping up no challenge at all. You may need a few minutes to get used to flying while looking through a completely different camera angle than that from the cockpit but the developers have done a good enough job of it that you won't be crashing much unless you really get something wrong.
There's a solid range of aircraft on offer, most of which feel slightly different. Weaponry is more limited, with each craft coming with a primary gun and a secondary weapon. Targeting your secondary weapon differs somewhat from plane to plane but you'll never feel like it's not under your control.
Where the game starts to fall down is in its general design. A major problem is that missions start out dull and don't improve as you move through the game. You'll mostly be fighting the same sorts of missions with different (albeit well realized) backdrops, none of which are very challenging because enemies don't do a very good job of dogfighting.
The game is also made too easy by your wingmen, who bring special, balance-tilting abilities to the fray. Take Joe, who's able to magically repair your plane at any point. All you need to do is call on him and he'll give you a four-button code to press and, boom, your plane is good as new. This wouldn't be so bad if you could only use it every now and then but the special meter fills up so fast that there's very little justification for your death. The game's cartoony interface also seems at odds with the gravity of the situations you're in - something not helped by the cheap damage repair system. The sense of danger that should come with being an actual World War II pilot is dissolved in the mushy game design.
When you tire of the singleplayer experience, you'll still have the game's few online modes to keep you busy. As Crimson Skies on Xbox proved, there are few things as fun as a sky full of people out to kill you in a vicious dogfight. Here you'll be able to fly with up to 15 other pilots in team and solo modes that offer little variety compared to the bigger Xbox Live games but still enough to keep you playing for a while.
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Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
Gameplay footage (Ubisoft)
|2.54m||29MB||DF, SD, 30