Blazing Angels is yet another World War 2 inspired game which ditches the ground troops and guns for airman and aircraft. You play as a fictitious American Pilot as part of a US flight outfit known as the Blazing Angels. There is some artistic licence granted in that Americans weren’t even a part of some of the battles featured in the game. Either way Blazing Angels offers an arcade flight shooter experience that puts players right into the thick of combat.
Upon starting Blazing Angels, players are given the option to nose dive into a campaign mode which features 18 action packed missions or they can attempt some of the other modes available such as Arcade and Ace duel. Arcade pits the player in his or her chosen craft with the task of destroying waves of enemy fighters. The Ace Duel mode again has the player choose an aircraft and then go head to head against another computer controlled pilot in a single one life round. Mini campaign is also available once you have completed the main campaign mode and features more fighter missions alongside some bombing missions also. Finally there are the wealth of multiplayer modes via split-screen, Live and system link. The main campaign mode is probably the best place to start as it is here where you are introduced to the game’s tutorial mission, which outlines the basics of flying, air combat and ground combat. The campaign is also your key to unlocking more craft and earning medals/achievements.
Playing Blazing Angels is very simple once you master how to turn your craft using the handy target camera mode and slow turns. Slow turns offer the tightest turn available to your craft and involves simply locking on to a target by holding the left trigger and then pulling down on the right thumb stick (throttle) to turn towards your target. Once behind then letting rip with your machine guns is a fast and effective way of taking down other aircraft. Shooting ground targets offers a bombing reticule which again is very simple to use. The aircraft available come in all shapes and sizes and offer different flight characteristics and weapons load outs. Some planes are equipped with bombs, cameras, torpedoes, rockets or bombs and depending on the mission you get to try them all.
The missions themselves which take place in several key locations across the globe such as Peal Harbour, London, Paris, North Africa offer the usual mixture of destroying waves of enemy craft to defending ground targets or perhaps destroying ground targets or ships. There’s enough variety here and although many missions are simple repeats of missions found in other games (well there’s only so much you can do with a flying game) the action never lets up. During missions players are able to use wingmen to either attack, defend or perform their own special moves such as becoming a decoy target or even offering tips on how to repair your plane after taking a beating. The wingmen are all pretty good shots and take down plenty of enemy aircraft; in fact none of the wingmen died throughout the campaign.
Blazing Angels looks pretty sharp and with plenty of objects on screen at any given time is pretty impressive although I did encounter some frame rate issues (stutters) and screen tearing using the high resolution output. The battle environments are all very impressive at a glance, take London or Paris as an example which renders plenty of buildings as far as the eye can see which looks rather impressive. A closer inspection of the actual buildings reveals some rather basic looking models coupled with plenty of repeated buildings. There are lots of lighting bloom effects used and the culmination of everything going on in a frenzy of activity creates a visceral experience. The aircraft models are pretty decent looking and when using the lock on camera offers some excellent cinematic viewpoints of the action. In general the graphics have their moments of looking quite spectacular although during other times look fairly basic and not a huge leap ahead of last generation graphics.
The sound is a mixed bag and for one thing I have to say thank god for subtitles and volume controls. The sound of aircraft engines and raging gun fire is acceptable in a game such as this and I guess having radio banter is a given. However there are two things that began to grate as far as I’m concerned and that was the over bearing music, which although orchestral and grand which fitted the occasion simply bothered me too much and so I turned it down. The radio banter also becomes extremely annoying as it features actors from the old school of ham. The voice acting is 100% cliché and like me you will be glad of the option to turn voices down or off entirely.
Blazing Angels offers plenty of action, although after prolonged periods of play can become quite repetitive. The single player portion of the game will take hardcore players a weekend of solid playing to complete and the multiplayer games prolong the life of experience further. There are quite a number of multiplayer modes to tweak and mess around with, including 4 player co-op doing key missions from the single player game as well as various other co-op modes. There’s quite a lot to do here although for some players hooked on achievements there are none gained in any of the multiplayer modes.
Blazing Angels is a solid arcade experience that at times looks stunning where as other times looks pretty dull, which might not be agreeable with the masses of graphics junkies out there. The game play is very solid and easy to get to grips with, whether you are a casual or hardcore gamer. I found Blazing Angels does have that all important fun factor especially when you couple the single player and online modes together. If you are renting the game then obviously you won’t have enough time to fully experience the entirety of Blazing Angels, which in my opinion would be a shame. Despite a few niggles with graphics and sound and perhaps being a little repetitive everything seems to work just fine albeit on a rather basic level. Blazing Angels is definitely one for aircraft and arcade fans who aren’t overly fussed about realism especially as it offers nothing really new to the genre. There is no cockpit view included which may annoy some players but when you play the game and begin to appreciate the lock on camera you are left with often stunning dog fights that will most certainly bring a smile to your face. Rent first if you are not sure but either way you will have a fun time playing.