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Blazing Angels Review 138

Posted by Zonk
from the dogfighting-without-dogs dept.
Fun is the end goal of constructing a game. The hype, graphics, and back of the box features mean nothing if the game doesn't deliver the fun. Ubisoft has chosen to unburden itself of many of the clunky parts of the action genre by focusing on a formula that works. Blazing Angels is a WWII airplane shooter with minimal interface elements, a satisfying physical experience, and an ignorable plot. It's not a game for the ages, but Angels manages to deliver an uncomplicated and entertaining experience. Read on for my impressions of very grounded flying game.
  • Title: Blazing Angels
  • Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft
  • System:360 (Xbox)
As a Yank in Britland, you're going to get razzed a lot in Blazing Angels. You're one of a few Americans attached to the RAF, and the war of the Greatest Generation is on in full force. Along with a bumpkin of a mechanic and a pair of taciturn flyboys, you'll be taking on the largest aerial battles in the war. Starting with the clash at Dunkirk, you pilot craft around the world on the side of the Allies. Aside from the scenery whipping beneath your plane and the 'flavour' of the missions you're given, there's not much more to the plot of the game. Angels takes you through a Cliff's Notes version of the war, which I actually appreciate. I'm more than a little tired of WW2 games trying to teach me about that period in history, so it was nice to set the brain on autopilot during the dramatic cutscenes (all of which are skippable).

Autopilot won't help in the combat arenas, which move at a brisk clip. Each battle is broken down into a series of objectives. Your wingmen keep you appraised of the situation with audio cues and a great 'objective lock' feature. By holding down a button, your camera turns to focus on whatever you should be attacking. It makes three dimensional dogfighting a manageable (and enjoyable) experience. The focus of the controls seems to be entirely about putting you in the moment as much as possible. There are almost no HUD elements to clutter your view. Weapons have unlimited ammo, and a simple on-screen indicator tells you when you've got a good aim on a target. The controller's vibrate function, which in many games I find annoying, emphasizes the danger of the moment as your vintage craft shudders to greater speeds. While the sometimes necessary confusion of aerial combat can make for disorienting moments, the control scheme is intuitive and useful.

The missions themselves, unfortunately, don't live up to the moment-to-moment action. Once you're diving and wheeling against a pilot in the Luftwaffe, you're going to tend to forget the reason you're there. The distinct mission segments are utterly forgettable. They mostly consist of 'take out that unit' or 'keep that vehicle/building intact'. Mediocre setting elements could have been saved by good voice acting, but that's sadly not the case here either. Almost universally the voice actors go full out for 'recognizable stereotype', and sometimes don't even manage to get where they're aiming for. Probably most annoying are the extremely chatty enemies. As you shoot down opponents you'll be constantly bombarded with insulting commentary and annoyed exclamations. You'd think that the opposing forces would be running on different radio frequencies.

Visually, Blazing Angels is a competent success. The 360's power is put to use creating a seamless and smooth combat experience and expansive observable vistas. The game's art direction has something of a softness to it, giving the appearance of flying through an old-timey photograph. The specificity of the art direction coupled with the title's speed results in a fighting experience that feels something like an homage to another Xbox title.

That title is Crimson Skies. One of the original offerings for the first Xbox, the alternate history flying shooter is a solid and enjoyable gaming experience even three years later. In comparison, Angels comes up short, but certainly not for lack of trying. Blazing Angels is ultimately an uncomplicated flying experience that aims for style over substance. It succeeds at simplicity where Full Auto failed. It does what it does very well, without technical hiccups, and backs that technical prowess with simple and fun gameplay. The brevity of the experience and the corny voice acting keep the game from being a long-haul title, but this one is definitely worth a rental. Rent it, play online, grab your achievements, and then move on to weightier games. With some of the hotly anticipated titles slated for later this year likely to run to epic lengths, this dime-store war story will feel like a nice change of pace.
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Blazing Angels Review

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  • It seems the Nintendo Wii (nee Revolution) might be an interesting system for flight sim or pilot games. The controller would be used as a dynamic control stick, complete with twist, bank, attitude, roll, etc.

    That said, this game looks interesting. I like the idea of a bit of "grit" back in the games -- too often it seems that studios are going for this ultimately high-res "too clean" look. Give me rain, give me poor visibility. Give me dirt!
    • It seems the Nintendo Wii (nee Revolution) might be an interesting system for flight sim or pilot games.


      Pilotwings Wii?
    • Give me rain, give me poor visibility. Give me dirt!

      Hallelujah! May the game-creating gods hear you! Seriously, I LOVE bad weathers in games, it adds to the end of the world type feeling you can have in an action game. We need more.

    • Sounds alot like the "Padlock View" that was introduced to most of the gaming world by Falcon 3.0.

      It's an old (and often missing) friend in the world of Aerial Warfare.
    • Just get X pilot and or FS2004.
      They both offer weather and all the realism you could ever want. You can even get a real HOTAS setup and rudder peddles.
  • by robyannetta (820243) * on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:21PM (#15239530) Homepage
    Maybe they should have talked to this guy [ittoolbox.com] before writing that review.
    • It takes a special kind of person to be a jerk who causes a huge scene and be proud of it.
      • Unfortunately the policy doesn't cover unopened defective titles. The man really shouldn't have been allowed to get away with the refund by causing a scene and personally embarassing the clerks and managers. He'll get negative karma points for that. Ubisoft is a decent company and he could RMA the merchandise to them for a fixed copy of a crappy game; he could have then taken that title back to the store and claimed it as unopened.
    • Does anyone happen to know why _every_damn_store_ seems to have a return policy on games where you can only exchange an open copy for the same title and get a refund on an unopened package? Is this policy dictated by the manufacturer to prevent people from returning terrible games? I wonder how many appliances a store would sell if they had a similar policy, yet people are willing to put up with this crap on music, movies and games.
  • Take Aces of pacific for example - it did a splendid job of taking the player into the atmosphere with reasonable missions that were repetitive but realistic.
    • For anyone that might be interested, Aces Of Pacific is the second in a series of Simulations from Dynamix, an old sierra subsidiary.

      Game came right after Red Baron, and its unprecedented success. Now speaking of which, this game also does an unparalelled job of taking the player to WWI atmosphere, it is a must-have for anyone who have played at least a computer game.

      Back in 92-93, Aces of pacific came, which was an implementation of the principles invented in red baron (immersive career concept, a hi
  • by Surt (22457) on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:26PM (#15239585) Homepage Journal
    Do they not realize that life was not actually in shades of brown at that time, but rather that that was an artifact of the filmmaking process of the time?
  • simliar (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chimera512 (910750)
    experience for PC? I've been looking casually for a simple flight sim ever since Red Baron II disappointed me, granted I haven't been looking too hard. Does anyone know of a solid flight sim that doesn't require 12 hours to learn how to fly the F/A18 on ala Jane's?
    • According to the Blazing Angels web site [blazing-angels.com], it will be available for PC as well. As the article mentioned, I'd highly recommend Crimson Skies for the PC if you like simple (as in not entirely realistic and easy/intuitive to learn) flight sims.
      • Re:simliar (Score:4, Informative)

        by XenoRyet (824514) on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:55PM (#15239850)
        Blazing Angels is not a flight sim. It's an action game, and if you have even minimal expectaionts of how a plane should fly, this game will annoy you. When rolling the plane, it feels as if it's rolling on the inside edge of a cylinder, like that old vector arcade game, instead of rolling on it's axis. This aspect wrecked both Blazing Angels and Heros of the Pacific for me. Not that they aren't good games, but the fact that the planes flew wrong made the game's controlls counterintuitive for me.

        It's not nessisarily a huge thing, but it is something to be aware of. Your best bet would be to try a demo first.

        • Exactly my impression. I was expecting something a bit less *LIMITED* on the control. I'd expect to be able to pull off certain aerial maneuvers and the controls would just.. well.. up and decide I couldn't do it at the critical point.

          Thank heavens it was a Gamefly rental. I sent it back the next day. It really wasn't any good.
    • Re:simliar (Score:2, Informative)

      by gravy.jones (969410)
      Ubisoft's Pacific Fighters package. In it's unrealistic arcade mode the plane flys like a video game. In it's most challenging 100% realistic mode, it fly's like a plane. There is a huge online community dedicated to Pacific Fighters that join in through a lobbying software called 'Hyperlobby'.
    • Go for WarBirds. Easy to start, hard to master. It's pay to play online against other humans, but free to download and play against AI.
    • I never played Red Baron 2, but I was an avid fan of Red Baron. There hasn't been anything to challenge it, and it was made like 15 years ago. How sad is that? The Xwing series was good I have to admit, but its not flying on earth.
  • by KDR_11k (778916)
    So you're fighting for the RAF but your character is American? WTF? Why? Wouldn't it have made more sense to have the character be of UK origin?
    • What's wrong with the RAF flying ace being an American, just like the famous American Winston Churchill? [imdb.com]

      Seriously though, I wonder if they'll even bother releasing this one in the UK.

      • by ccmay (116316)
        just like the famous American Winston Churchill?

        Funny you should mention that; Churchill's mother was the American Jennie Jerome [wikipedia.org]. Churchill was proud to be half-American, and bragged that one remote ancestor was an Iroquois Indian, though there is no genealogical proof of this.

        -ccm

    • I'm guessing that they needed an excuse for the same pilot to be in the Battle of Britain and the Pacific during a single career, and that's about the only reasonable way it'd happen.
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:34PM (#15239647) Homepage
    No technical hiccups? That's not what several other reviews claim. There're graphics glitches like "tearing" appearing in when doing a high speed turn and there're some mission glitches that prevent some missions from getting completed depending on how you approach the mission.

    The missions are repetitive and ultimately boring. And the voice acting is VERY annoying.

    The title had so much promise.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      But it does make excellent use of Comic Sans for the subtitles.
    • And here I was, thinking that CPU&GFX performance alone would make games automagically fun. Guess I was wrong, then...
    • My cousin bought this game. I didn't have the heart to tell him how bad it was. But I did anyway. Like you said. The voice acting is horrible. I wouldn't doubt it if they had passerby's in the mall say things on que cards into a mic.

      My biggest gripe? The water. The 360 has plenty of horse power under the hood... so why arent there some sembelence of waves?! Battleships sit mightly in the water as you shoot your infinite rounds into their hulls. They don't move. You drop bombs on them. They take d

  • I played this on the PC, nice fun game. Be careful of that ultra-hard "Rabul" mission, immediatly followed by another difficult "Fjord" mission. But it's great fun. Only annoyance was bloody SF - didn't want to play on my system until I disconnected my optical drives - go figure. At least UBI realised this and dropped SF from future releases.
  • by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:44PM (#15239742) Homepage
    Ok, there are lots of titles like this out already (I'm looking at you LucasArts & EA). Whatever happend to good flight sims with real physics and realistic combat problems (i.e. can't engauge enemy because if you do you won't have enough fuel to make it home).

    A good friend of mine used to play WarBirds (http://www.totalsims.com/ [totalsims.com]) and used to tell such invigorating stories about how he'd be up all night with a map, a ruler and a caclulator trying to figure out the best route to bomb a historical target with his flight wing.

    Wouldn't it be more fun to learn how a real WWII plane handled and what all the instruments did and get closer to the real experience?
    • Wouldn't it be more fun to learn how a real WWII plane handled and what all the instruments did and get closer to the real experience?

      For some, I'm sure it would be. Others don't want to spend all the time having to learn about how read an altimeter or how the payload affects fuel consumtion. They'd rather have a simple arcade-like flight game where the only things you need to worry about are either crashing into the ground or getting shot down. I like sim-like games, but sometimes I'm looking for somethi
      • Absolutly, however there are far more "arcade" flight combat games than hardcore flight combat sims.

        I enjoyed playing games like Crimson Skies, but when I wanted to go to the next level I found that most of the sims out there were aging, buggy and that had community level support (which was not enough).

        If there was a serious flight sim out there today that delivered decent graphics and a good physics engine I'd be checking it out, that's for sure.
        • "Absolutly, however there are far more "arcade" flight combat games than hardcore flight combat sims."

          And there are far more first person shooters than Barbie dress-up games. What's your point? What comes to market is influenced by many factors but one very important one is how games in a particular genre have sold in the past. There are more arcade-style flight combat games because historically those have sold better than more realistic flight combat games.

          "If there was a serious flight sim out there to

        • You should look at IL-2 Sturmovik and it's expansions.

          Graphics are exceptional for a 4 year old title and the physics model is second to none. The AI is passable but still limited as it uses the same flight model as the player.

          The only area where it falls down is the somewhat limited dynamic campaign system (which is developed by a 3rd party). Online play is, however, supposed to be stellar.

          • I'll second that. Try the IL-2 demo [3dgamers.com] at 3DGamers. Be very sure to try the naval strike missions for the Sturmovik itself, attacking convoys in a thunderstorm is not to be missed. The graphics on that have been updated at least once since then in the major overhaul that was Forgotten Battles. Online play through Hyperlobby does rock, with online campaign play supported and lots of servers up. A whole new sim (Battle of Britain) is due in 07 or 08 from the same developer, curent patchlevels are using a develop
    • Wouldn't it be more fun to learn how a real WWII plane handled and what all the instruments did and get closer to the real experience?

      Some people get off on realism, some people are busy and like to jump in a plane and blow shit up going as fast as they can.

    • Wouldn't it be more fun to learn how a real WWII plane handled and what all the instruments did and get closer to the real experience?

      Fun? Yes. More fun? Well, that's the magic of different games for different tastes. I'd love a return to the days when there were multiple flight simulators released every year. Unfortunately, I think the development costs have gotten too high compared to the size of the target audience. The action/arcade flight games have much broader appeal and so that's what we're
    • I'm not a big fan of realistic flight combat games.

      A video game is never going to have the stakes (your life) that real combat has, nor the months of flight training. So it makes sense to distill a game into the "interesting bits"

      Interestingly Gamers Quarter [gamersquarter.com] #2 had a review of Steel Battalion that seems to indicate it's taking this approach; about as "hard sci fi" as you can get, with that giant dashboard accesory, and then heightening it by having "real character death"... you can't restore if you get kill
    • Ok, there are lots of titles like this out already (I'm looking at you LucasArts & EA). Whatever happend to good flight sims with real physics and realistic combat problems (i.e. can't engauge enemy because if you do you won't have enough fuel to make it home).

      It's out there, and it's called Aces High [hitechcreations.com]. It is "massively" multiplayer though, I don't know of any single player games like that.

      Wouldn't it be more fun to learn how a real WWII plane handled and what all the instruments did and get cl

      • It is "massively" multiplayer though, I don't know of any single player games like that.

        Shockwave's "Battle of Britain 2" is a single player title with realistic plane numbers, IOW around a 1000 airplanes over the the UK and about 300 so near that you can see them in 3D. It is a hardcore title with realistic physics and AI. Airplane graphics are good, terrain is realsitic but not state of the art. I may be biased though, as I am a developer ;).

    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Monday May 01, 2006 @04:48PM (#15240793) Homepage
      I've been very disappointed in the lack of good simulators the last few years. There are a few fixed-wing PC sims that are good, but nothing like the heyday of the late 90s where it seemed every month had a new realistic fighter/bomber/helicopter sim.

      I would happily pay $150+ to be able to play Longbow II in a high-res 3D environment with current graphical features -- it was engrossing enough in the primitive Voodoo-optimized version, and the game mechanics/AI would barely need to be tweaked at all. Sure it's exciting to fly an F15 at Mach 3 with your pants on fire, but for my money nothing was as fun as 30 feet off the ground at 300 mph, popping up over a hill to engage 12 hard targets in 2 seconds while jinking to avoid small arms fire. Or the thrill of flying a fast, vulnerable Kiowa scout, hovering just behind the trees painting targets for the Apaches and then getting the hell out of dodge before the Iranian air force realizes you're in the neighborhood.
    • They're all on the PC. Exhibit 1 [lo-mac.com], Exhibit A [f4hq.com]. Ok, they're not from WWII, but that just makes them better, doesn't it ;)
    • Got one WWII for you, MMORPG www.battlegroundeurope.com .

      Physics model, check. Hardness, check.

      1/2 scale Europe, one continuous playing field (you can fly from UK airfields to West German targets or vice versa), and there are 'unfilled' areas that are accessible but don't have anything to shoot (a squad I play with recently went to the Swiss alps and parachuted down to them finishing in an apparently disastrous landing attempt).

      Player-driven High Commands with all the good and bad that can imply.

      Relative t
    • Wouldn't it be more fun to learn how a real WWII plane handled and what all the instruments did and get closer to the real experience?

      Not for the XBox 360's target audience.
    • Another vote here for IL-2 Sturmovik. (and expansions/sequels like forgotten battles)

      It is a VERY realistic flight sim. You can NOT 'yank and bank' like so many others..or you black out and die. The bullets fly on proper ballistic flight paths and deflection shooting is apropriatly hard. Fuel and damage are all realistic..and the multiplayer is very good.

      Also for modern aircraft, i've found the realistic mode in Falcon 4.0 to be brutally realistic. Like in real life, one screwup and you die haha. Not sure i
    • For many of us geeks, absolutely it's more fun. Orbiter is one of my favorite time-wasters - I have endless fun plotting Earth - Mars transfer orbits with barely enough fuel, having to execute a seat-of-your-pants aerobraking without the proper instruments, then having to try to put the ship down on a 10-meter docking pad on the surface with what tiny bit of fuel I've got left. Or taking a cargo module as far down into the atmosphere as I dare with the orbital tug, dropping it, trying to climb out again b
    • They are live an kicking hard. Go to www.pacific-fighters.com and enjoy.
  • by adisakp (705706) on Monday May 01, 2006 @03:04PM (#15239917) Journal
    Who'd want to play that!
  • Someone better tell them that the fact old movie reels tint yellowish doesn't mean the real world was all tinted like that.
  • I agree... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mr_zorg (259994) on Monday May 01, 2006 @03:09PM (#15239977)
    I agree almost entirely with this review, except for this one bit:

    Visually, Blazing Angels is a competent success. The 360's power is put to use creating a seamless and smooth combat experience and expansive observable vistas.

    Yes, the game looks great, but it's not quite smooth. There is a, somewhat annoying, graphical glitch that looks not unlike the effect you get when you point a camera at a computer monitor and the two aren't on the same refresh rate. There's a band that scrolls across the screen that I can best describe as "off whack". Probably some variation on tearing. There's no excuse for that in a console game.

    Other than that, though, it is a fun, albeit mindless game.

  • Someone actually says something nice about Microsoft (well, sorta) and they are completely off base. This is perhaps the best concept/worst delivery of all of the 360 games. It tears something fierce on every level; the character voices and insulting repeat the same phrases over and over. I was really hoping this would be my new favorite game, but I completed it just for the very meager gamer points and shelved it. Landlocked
  • Here I thought /. was going to review Burning Angel [burningangel.com].
  • by Rowan_u (859287) on Monday May 01, 2006 @03:44PM (#15240218)
    Sorry Zonk, I'm going to have to disagree with you again. The controls in this game aren't even in the same ballpark as Crimson Skies. Flying the planes in Blazing Angels is like flying a greasy pig on skates by comparison . . . with no wings. Also, the "ripped from Shadow of the Colossus" camera lock on feels pretty useless, tending to block your view with your own plane. The voice acting is done by the criminally insane, and the missing vertical sync causes frame tearing issues left and right.

    I will agree with you in the graphical department though. Aside from the tearing, the graphical presentation is fantastic, especially the cityscapes which seem to stretch on into infinity. Now . . . if only we could have Crimson Skies with these graphics, oh well.

  • New tagline (Score:3, Funny)

    by carambola5 (456983) on Monday May 01, 2006 @03:53PM (#15240313) Homepage
    Blazing Angels
    An Ubisoft joint.

    It smokes the competition!
  • My favorite fighter sim is definitely Biplanes, one of three games on the Triple Action cartidge for the Intellivision. Like a two-player 'Asteroids' on earth, this game's many short dogfights callused my thumbs more than any other game.
  • The World War II genre really hasn't seen much play (no pun intended) in video games recently. Nobody has really explored FPS games in this time period recently, so I give major Kudos to the publisher for going out on a limb and making a game set in World War II. This kind of uniqueness and individuality is what makes the Xbox 360 a truly innovative gaming platform instead of just a "Me Too" cash dump.
    • Speaking of that kind of thing .. if you're really into WWII FPS games then Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 might interest you.

      RED ORCHESTRA LINK [redorchestragame.com]

      Although it is Windows only and requires Steam installed it is a great shooter, especially if you dislike the run and gun play that other games have. This game has an infantry side and an armoured tank battle side to it, both focus on realism as much as possible while maintaining a great gameplay. It requires teamwork and tactics to win.

      Also of note it is takes place
  • Wtf, was this just emailed to /. directly from the publisher?

    slashdot, we post anything for a few bucks.

    OK, CAPTCHA fans, check out the word for this post:

    please type the word in this image: despair verification text - if you are visually impaired, please email us at pater@slashdot.org
  • by MaineCoon (12585) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:31PM (#15241072) Homepage
    I assume the shipping title does too.

    No thanks. Even if it isn't as harmful as people say (I hadnt had problems with it on a game that used it - Still Life; but that doesnt mean it wasn't causing problems I wasnt aware of), they have shown their true colors by deliberately promoting piracy of products that don't use it (Stardock's Galactic Civilization II).

    I refuse to purchase titles that use, and thereby support, Starforce.
  • selling games (Score:3, Insightful)

    by colmore (56499) on Monday May 01, 2006 @07:22PM (#15241778) Journal
    "The hype, graphics, and back of the box features mean nothing if the game doesn't deliver the fun."

    Unless that hype sells you a million unit on pre-sales. Video game fans are some of the stupidest consumers around, the game publishers get away with complete abuse of their customer base.
  • I was looking forward to this game. I have a Microsoft joystick and it worked poorly. After I ran the patch, it didn't work at all! The forums were full of complaints about joysticks and using a keyboard/mouse sucked. WTF good is a flight sim that doesn't support a joystick, especially a Microsoft one?!!!

    This is the first time I returned a game because it was defective like this. And it wasn't easy to return it, had to argue with the manager.

    Did they even test it with a joystick? They must have figure
  • It's an okay game. Good effects, the game is generally fun to play. However, a couple of things that put me off:

    - The game has hardly any story-line (as the reviewer noted)
    - The game suffers from a terrible horizontal tear when banking hard left or right
    - The game feels like a ripoff of Heroes of the Pacific [heroesofthepacific.com] both effect wise and camera wise. Some of the trademark Heroes effects and camera movements are identical in Angels!
    - You don't seem to have a sense of urgency or purpose in the game and dogfighting
    • The reason why it feels like a ripoff of Heroes of the Pacific is because it was created by the same development team.
      • The reason why it feels like a ripoff of Heroes of the Pacific is because it was created by the same development team.

        Wrong wrong wrong. Heroes of the Pacific was developed by IRGurus, *published* by UbiSoft in the states, while published in Europe by Codemasters. Blazing Angels is developed and published by UbiSoft. Me thinks the UbiSoft guys were taking a long hard look at Heroes while they were getting ready to publish Heroes.
  • Not sure about the PC, but on the 360 there's a demo available for download from XBox Live. It was enough to convince me to not buy the game, to be honest. Hell, I spotted some dude in Best Buy about to pick it up, and I told him to try the demo first.

    The tearing alone was so utterly distracting I'm shocked this game even made it out the door. I find it hard to believe Ubi's QA department missed it.

    Anyway, you can try before you buy, so take advantage of that.

There are never any bugs you haven't found yet.

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