Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII for Xbox 360 takes you back to World War II as you lead your squadron of Blazing Angels pilots to victory. Start out as a rookie pilot and move your way up through the ranks as you complete missions, earn metals, and unlock Xbox Achievements. Some of the historic air battles you will take part in, include The Battle of Britain over the skies of London, England; “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” at Pearl Harbor; Battle of Midway; Liberation of Paris; and The End of War in the skies of Berlin, Germany.All of these historic air battles have been recreated in Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII and you will feel like you are there with the detailed graphics and realistic look of the forty-two aircraft and surrounding environments. The planes you get to fly include the Spitfire, P-51D Mustang, F4U1 Corsair, B-17 Flying Fortress, Japanese Zero (multiplayer only), Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt (multiplayer only) and more. All of the planes look really good and include nose art and destructible sections that you will see as you take hits in battle. Don’t be surprised to see your planes wing all tattered with holes in it and smoke and flames coming out of your engine as you take damage in the missions.
The cities and surrounding environments in Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII are also well done and include key landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, London Bridge, ships in port at Pearl Harbor and more. The cities, such as London, have buildings everywhere with decent detail and the water you fly over in some of the missions looks similar to what you see when you go on a flight over water in real-life. You will see the white caps of the waves as the water churns below you or a big splash and explosion as you crash into it. Blasting up the enemy also is rewarding graphically, since you get to see bullets and missiles launching from your aircraft and causing damage to the enemy. Cause enough damage and see them fall from the sky in a ball of flames.
All of this action is also accompanied with a well done soundtrack, quality sound effects, and so-so voice-acting. The soundtrack has the patented military orchestra music to it that sounds dramatic and gets you into the World War II historic battle mood. If you have seen any WWII or military movies, then you know what type of soundtrack to expect. The sound effects are also top notch and expect to hear your planes engine revving and propeller spinning as you unleash rounds of bullets and launch rockets into the enemy.
You will also constantly hear chatter on your radio from your other squadron members telling you to watch your six (back) and other things they are doing. Also, included in this banter is the German and Japanese fighter pilots that sound okay, but remind me more of an old war movie than real-life. The enemies speak in English with kind of goofy accents that don’t sound horrible, but could’ve been better. The other voice-acting of your squadron members and base communications sound decent, but may get on your nerves sometimes. This is especially true at the beginning of levels like The Pacific Fortress at Rabaul where you will probably die many times and have to hear the same thing over and over again when you restart.
In the beginning of the game you will also have to go through a training mission that allows you to get accustom to the control scheme of the game. Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII is definitely more arcade style than simulation and the controls shouldn’t bee too hard to pick up. The basic controls have you using the left analog stick to control your plane and the right trigger to fire your weapon. You also use the right analog stick to control your speed by pushing forward and back and your rolls by pushing left and right. Pushing down on the right analog stick also lets you use your secondary weapon. The secondary weapons include the ability to fire missiles, take pictures on recon missions, and drop bombs. All of these secondary weapons add variety to the game and make it more than just dogfight after dogfight.
Another part of the controls is the ability to control your wingmen using the digital pad. Moving the D-pad in different directions will allow you to tell your squadron to get into an attack, defensive or formation position. The D-Pad also allows you to send one of your squadron members to attack by himself, repair your plane or taunt the enemy and get them off your back. The repair option also makes you perform certain button presses to successfully repair your plane ala Space Channel 5 or Parrapa the Rapper.
The last part of the controls is the left trigger which allows you to lock on a target and follow them even if they go out of view. This function really helps you locate enemies, but it also makes the game more difficult to control, since it switches the camera angle to different views depending on where the enemy is off-screen. When the camera angle changes it may confuse you on which way to push to make the plane go where you want it to. This will take some getting use to and I still crash on occasion because of it even after playing the game for multiple hours.
Related to multiple things, the game has multiple game modes that includes online multiplayer. The meat of the game is the Campaign mode that has you flying in eighteen dramatic and historical missions to help win the war, but there are also other gameplay options in Standalone and Multiplayer modes. Standalone mode includes mini campaigns, arcade-style dogfights, and an ace duel. Multiplayer allows you to play via Xbox Live, split-screen or via System Link. My brother and I played multiple split-screen and it was fun, but got a little old after awhile, since it was only the two of us on-screen in the dogfights. I guess we could’ve enable computer opponents, but we didn’t. Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII also allows you to play together split-screen versus the computer in some missions and that was fun.
Split-screen mode was enjoyable but the real fun began when I went online. Flying against up to fifteen opponents online was a lot of fun and truly puts your skill or lack of, to the test. I played on Xbox Live in a battle with around six or eight people and didn’t notice any lag or glitches. I was yelling at the TV screen and getting blasted from the sky left and right, but it was a lot of fun. If you have always wanted to dogfight against other human opponents in WWII style aircraft that have more of a arcade feel than simulation then Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII might be the ticket.
The last thing I wanted to touch on is the Xbox Achievements available in Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII. In my opinion Microsoft needs to set some guidelines for the earning of achievements for developers to follow, since this game’s achievements are too hard to reach in my opinion. Don’t expect to receive any achievements until you beat the game and after that you will need to play it a lot more to get the total of seven available. It is funny that someone that has played the game for eight hours or more will have the same exact achievement score as someone that has just put the game in five minutes ago. In Ubisoft’s other recently released Xbox 360 game, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, you receive your first achievement after completing the training mission about 15 minutes or less into the game, but in Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII you will be playing it a long time before you see anything light up on your achievements board. This game is definitely not Madden NFL 2006 on the achievement side of things.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII is a decent World War II military aircraft game that excels at some of the things it does and is decent in other aspects. I didn’t know what to expect when putting Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII into my Xbox 360, but I would have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It has some control issues that will take some time to get use to and the voice-acting isn’t the greatest, but the total package is decent. Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII maybe isn’t the best game I have ever played, but it was enjoyable to play while working on this review and I may pick it up from time-to-time in the future for some more Xbox Live dogfights. Hopefully, I won’t continue to embarrass myself by going down in flames over and over again, but I probably will.
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