Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII Review

Blazing Angels puts you in the role of an American pilot who joins the British RAF early in World War II, and quite the pilot you are as you manage to find yourself taking part in just about every major battle of the war both in Europe and the Pacific. You’ll cover the English army’s retreat from Dunkirk, defend London during the Blitz, and protect the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and your journeys will take you to the skies above Paris, North Africa, and assorted Pacific islands before you’re through. You won’t manage to find the time to fly for the Soviets, but you are after all only one man.

Defending London.
The game’s whirlwind tour-de-force of World War II nature should make it obvious that it is far more of an arcade shooter than a flight sim. Planes are really easy to control with the left stick used for direction and elevation and the right stick for the throttle. By default your plane will cruise along at a set speed, so the throttle is really there to let you slow down a bit or give yourself a burst of speed. The planes in the game do feel like they handle slightly differently, primarily in their turn radiuses, but overall you won’t notice any significant differences in flight characteristics. The game has a really forgiving flight model and it seems to be impossible to stall, spin, or do anything else that would turn you into a pancake short of diving straight into the ground.

Each mission will involve completing a multiple succession of objectives, most of which have to do with fighting off attacking waves of enemies. Each plane has an unlimited supply of ammo and bombs, and the aiming reticule conveniently turns red when you have your target lined-up properly to hit it. When you’re close to the ground a circle appears that will show you exactly where your bombs will land – there’s no need to adjust for altitude or airspeed, release the bombs when the circle is over your target and you’re guaranteed to hit it. The game even makes it easy to find your next target as a press of the left trigger will rotate the view so that you see exactly where your enemy is located. This is convenient when you’re trying to determine where the next wave of enemies is coming from, but it’s a bit of a cheat when used to locate your enemy in the midst of a dogfight.

In spite of all of the different locations, battles, and planes in the game things will become repetitive as you make your way through the campaign. Part of the problem is that you’ll rarely get shot down, if at all, so the thrill of combat is soon replaced by the repetition of target practice. If you do take some damage, you can call on one of your wingmen to help you out with his special ability of repairing your plane in flight. The game attempts to add some challenge and an element of gameplay to what is essentially a built-in god cheat by making you press a sequence of buttons for the repair to be successful. This is far from difficult as you only need to press four buttons and the game gives you plenty of time to complete the sequence.

While on the topic of repetition I have to point out how repetitive and annoying the radio chatter is in the game. Not only do you have to contend with your squadron’s corny phrases repeated throughout a battle, you have to listen to the enemy’s incessant chatter as well. They repeat the same handful of taunts and exclamations of disbelief over and over and over again, and all spoken in English with poorly acted German and Japanese accents. This chatter is so constant and so annoying that it really detracts from your enjoyment of the game.