|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Romania||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 12, 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (16 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: T||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII is yet another addition to the long list of World War II games. This air combat game was released for other systems back in March 2006, and is now available for the PS3. You will advance through missions by beating back the vicious Axis powers. The game starts in the European theater, before the United States has entered the war. You will command an elite squadron of yank fighters helping the British air force during the Battle of Britain.
As you progress through all 20 missions, your squadron will fight over Mainland Europe, North Africa, and the Pacific. You will lead your boys to victory in such epic battles as the flight from Dunkirk, Pearl Harbor, and the Battle for Midway.
The crew doesn't really change during the game. You're in close contact with your partners Joe, Frank, and Tom. They will often communicate with you through the radio, giving you the lowdown on the objectives that come up and suggesting ways to tackle them. Some of the objectives require more effort than others but, in general, they're not easy.
The game plays like most air combat and flight simulation games. The camera moves following the actions of your aircraft. This means that the camera will end up sideways and upside down in a split second, and this may cause motion sickness if you've had this problem in the past. You can also switch to a cockpit view. This game has a steep learning curve. Expect to crash often at the beginning when you're not used to the controls. I would have liked to have seen more realism in shooting aspects of the game. For example, you don't have to lead your bullets while shooting at aerial enemies. Your guns always shoot straight making dogfights more like catfights. One nice feature is the fact that you can get your plane fixed by Joe, which is also not very realistic, but it gives you the chance to continue the game without making it too frustrating. On the other hand, this might make it too easy for experts of the genre. You can always track your location and that of your enemies by checking the radar and then choosing the formation of your squadron that best suits the situation, whether it's defending or attacking. The bombing targeting device will let you know where your bombs will drop making the bombing of ground targets simplistic. However, there's no ground damage, so you can't strategically bottleneck armored columns by destroying your enemy's path. You will have to shoot at them directly and hope you can get all of them quickly enough before the time runs out and you have to restart from the beginning of the checkpoint. This can be very frustrating especially due to the fact that the voiceover work will repeat itself over and over until you finally pass the objective.
Between the options found on the main menu, you can select the use of the Sixaxis motion-sensor to control the aircraft. This is the first game on the PS3 that truly takes advantage of this feature, instead of just being a gimmick. The plane controls just as well or better with the motion-sensor and this actually makes the game more fun.
There are three modes of play available other than the main story mode. Dogfight, which is a death match; Seek and Destroy, where you target and shoot down marked planes; and Aces High, where you fight head to head against another plane. There's a co-op mode where you can play different missions with your friends, and you can also play team battles (2-4 players) where you'll have to land on your enemy's runway or bomb their bases. The game also presents an online mode for up to 16 players; however, there are not many people out there yet and the game doesn't support voice-chat, which is a let down for many online players nowadays.
The graphics are well done but not greatly detailed. You will see a lot of elements being repeated, such as trees and houses. It's definitely not one of those PlayStation 3 games that we can call "gorgeus" although it has its good moments. The aircraft are well-designed. There are a few dozen realistic-looking models of genuine WWII aircraft, which you will gradually unlock by completing the missions successfully. There are also unique paintjobs that can be unlocked. Other than that, there isn't really anything else that is remarkable graphics-wise.
The sound effects are far from perfect. The volume seems to go up and down without warning. This doesn't always happen but it surprised me a few times. The voice over, always filtered by that talk-through-a-radio effect, is at times funny, and many other times corny. Eventually, you'll be annoyed by the repetition, since the comments don't really change even if you have to repeat the mission a few times.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII is not for everybody. It is somewhat difficult and it gets progressively harder. The game action is repetitive and it doesn't deliver a great experience overall. I would call it a game for enthusiasts of the genre. The rest should be prepared for frustration and a lot of dust-biting. You may want to give it a rental to make sure it's something you enjoy before you go ahead and drop the sixty bucks.
CCC Assistant Site Director