Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII Reader Review
Seriously: is there anything that man can do with machine that comes anywhere near the exhilaration of flying a fighter plane in combat? (and no, the washer on spin cycle doesn't count) Is there anything more stunning than seeing a well made flight sim running with smooth and detailed graphics? Is there a gaming genre that gives you quite the same sense of immersion and gut-wrenching displacement? Personally: I think not.
How come, then, gamers and the game industry have seemingly fallen out of love with the genre? I mean, apart from the occasional dull 'fly from Hong Kong to Dublin IN REAL TIME!' PC game and a few uber-arcade console experiences, what do we get?
When I was a fledgling gamer back in the days of ST Vs Amiga, flight simulators were held in great regard by developers and gamers alike. As a young teen I would spend hours wrestling with my joystick (that came out all wrong) happily seeing if I could fly under bridges, between buildings and figure out which button lowered my flaps (there I go again) in Falcon, Gunship, Chocks Away, F16 and the like.
Where did it all go wrong?
Ah what the hell: who cares anyway, itís not as if I can change...oh look: a flight sim for my nice new console! Right - Letís get stuck in :)
/several hours of play and a few scathing reviews later
Where to begin? How about with one of the most fundamental ingredients of games: fun. Donít believe the amount of criticism Blazing Angels gets levelled with: it is fun. Once more the child inside is grinning with glee as I pitch, roll and dive my spitfire down the enemies throat (ahem), even if it is an, afore-mentioned, uber-arcade experience.
The story is irrelevant, but Iím sure you get the idea. Thereís little historical accuracy but plenty of comic-book licence. The graphics are good, the voice acting isnít as bad as everyone is making out, and the missions are varied and short enough to keep you interested without getting bored. The combat is visceral (I just love that enemy-lock camera) enemies go down with a bang with wings exploding here there and everywhere. Lighting effects are great, the machine gun fire rips right through you and youíre often on the edge of your seat trying to nail one more enemy before time runs out in order to reach the ĎAceí mission rating.
It has itís flaws for sure: you canít turn off the sub-titles, thereís no in-cockpit cam, multiplayer is limited to four people, mission design can be unforgiving and beyond blasting bad guys thereís not a great deal to do. If that were the criteria for a game being weak, however, then FPS GOTY simply wouldnít exist.
The worst thing about Blazing Angels is that it leaves me with one nagging question: why oh why doesnít someone make a PROPER flight sim for a console? Technical power is up-to-scratch, we have USB ports to plug in additional custom-made flight sim control panels (aka keyboards and joysticks), there's a mature, willing and skilled audience and a cracking Live service that allows players to communicate in real-time voice-chat. Godammit: I want to be somebody's Wingman and watch their ass! (chortle)
Ah what the hell: who cares anyway, itís not as if I can change...holy crapola: more bogies at 6 Oíclock!!!!
/questions carry-on esque puns as is out of character - must be all that low oxygen ariel combat ;)
7 / 10