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Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII Xbox 360

Published by Ubisoft
Developed by Ubisoft
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £49.99

Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII, an introduction.

The Xbox 360 may have launched with a cluster of FPS, driving and sports games but gradually games from other genres are beginning to appear. Blazing Angels is the first air combat game to arrive on the console and whilst flight based games aren't usually the most popular games, Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII does provide a refreshing change to the games that are already available on the console.

What's the game about?

Blazing Angels is an arcade style, mission-based, World War II air combat game. The single-player game contains 18 missions that are loosely based on key air-battles from the war. You'll play as a squadron leader in these missions and you get to give out basic instructions, via your directional pad, to your wingmen, Frank, Tom and Joe. Aside from the main Campaign there's some Standalone Modes for you to jump into and have a quick blast. The other modes include Mini Campaigns (only available when you've completed the main campaign), Arcade and Ace Duel. In Ace Duel mode you'll fight one-on-one dogfights and should you win you'll obtain extra paint jobs for your aircraft. The multiplayer side of things is covered too, offering six game types (Historical Battles, Dual, Bombing Run, Kamikaze, Onslaught and Dogfight) with Xbox Live (up to 16 players are supported online), System Link and Split-Screen gaming supported.

What's good about the game?

Rather than have a simulation that was difficult to handle and that would have turned gamers away, Ubisoft decided to opt for the more forgiving arcade style controls that are very accessible. Even those who have never played an air combat game before will easily be able to jump straight into the action without feeling overwhelmed. Rather than have a tutorial that attempts to show you everything in one go the tutorial covers the basics of taking-off, general flying, firing and bombing. The first couple of missions that follow introduce you to other aspects of the game. This makes for a gentle introduction to the game and it's much less daunting than many air combat games we've seen. It's not only the flight model that feels very accommodating. During missions you can call on Joe (by pressing left on the directional pad) to repair your aircraft whilst you are in mid-air. To fix the aircraft you'll have to call Joe and once he gives you the go-ahead, you'll have to press a sequence of buttons in the correct order. Once you've done this your aircraft will be as good as new. Even without Joe's assistance though, the game still wouldn't be that difficult. The other modes, particularly the Arcade and Ace Duel modes, are more challenging and should extend the life of the game quite considerably. The dogfights in the Ace Duel mode seem more difficult than those in the campaign.

What's not so good about the game?

Those who were expecting a simulation might find Blazing Angels a little disappointing. In fact if you're a dogfighting veteran you'll probably waltz through the 18 missions in the single-player story in no time at all. The missions aren't exactly memorable. You basically move from one objective to another in an orderly fashion and there's nothing here that's unexpected or surprising in anyway. The enemies you face are, for the most part, easy to take out and this does make your successful completion of a mission feel a little hollow at times. The game allows you to lock your view on your enemy by holding down the left trigger. For the most part this is a helpful feature but it's not a feature you'll want to use continuously as it can quickly become disorientating. A more traditional use of pointers to indicate enemy positions would have worked just as well.

How does it look?

Blazing Angels actually looks quite good and is the best looking game of this type to appear on a console to date. The aircraft models (there are 42 different aircraft in the game) all look good, which is important seeing as you play the game from a third person perspective because you'll get to look at them quite a lot during the game. The various landscapes you'll fly over all look quite good, although in places some could have looked a lot better. The frame rate is generally fine although there are occasional dips. What is particularly impressive though is the motion blur effects that occur when travelling at high speed.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Surprisingly this is one area where Blazing Angels definitely shines. Virtually all of the dialogue in the game is subtitled. The text appears at the top of the screen and the name of the person speaking is displayed next to the text. All tutorial messages are shown in text. Objectives are shown in text and you're also notified in text when you've completed objectives and when new ones have been issued. You can recall your objectives at any time by pressing the start button and accessing your objectives from the menu that appears. If there's one complaint we have, it's that sometimes speech can come thick and fast and the displayed subtitles are only there for a very short time and it's not always possible to read them when you're involved in a dogfight. Most of the time though this isn't a problem and it's usually a quick exchange of taunts between your comrades and your enemies.

Final thoughts.

Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII is a solid addition to the available games for the Xbox 360. Sure for some it may be too easy and those looking for a simulation will be disappointed. However, those looking for a straightforward, arcade style air combat game should enjoy what Blazing Angels has to offer. The aircraft are easy to handle, dogfights are easier than they are in most games and the multiplayer options are plentiful. In truth the missions could have been more entertaining but on the whole there's still quite a bit of fun to be had from the game and it's definitely worth checking the demo out on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Overall Game Rating: 7.3/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

Air combat games are not usually the easiest of games to jump into. Blazing Angels however, is very accessible and can easily be enjoyed by anyone. It's definitely not a simulation and those expecting one will be disappointed by the arcade nature of the game.