Blazing Angels Squadrons of WWII
First, the basic layout. There are 42 different airplanes that you can eventually fly. The detailing on each one is quite nice. You have to start the propeller, get up to speed, learn how to zoom around in the sky. Do a barrel roll! No, just kidding, this isn't StarFox. Still, you get sun glinting off your landing gear, movement off the flaps, you name it.
The world around you is rather well detailed too. It's important to remember that unlike most other games where they world you can see is limited, in this game, because you're high in the sky, your visible landscape is *huge*. The game has fully rendered towns, villages, forests, moving tank formations, sailing ships, you name it. There is drifting smoke, raging fires and pounding surf. The skies are gorgeous at times. Yes, we did see occasional "shift lines" as the game coped with high speed turns, but considering the number of objects being tracked simultaneously I didn't think it unreasonable.
It's funny, we played this first right after I watched Last of the Mohegans. The soundtrack is almost *exactly* the same in some parts. I didn't consider that bad. What I *did* consider really bad is the inane radio chatter. Your enemies taunt you - in English - with the same phrases over and over again? It is questionably cute the first time, but it drives you completely insane after a few minutes. I realize they want you to feel "in the fight". They can certainly do that with comments from your own side, without having to resort to German snide taunts.
On to gameplay. The game checkpoints automatically rather frequently, which is good. The game isn't flight-sim difficult - I *love* flight sims but realize that many people don't want to put that kind of effort into learning to fly a plane. The plane flying is very arcadey. I don't say that in a bad way. This is a "fun" combat game, not a learn-to-fly-warplanes-after-3-months-of-practice simulator. What this means is that there's a lot of circling around, shooting down fighters, strafing tanks, and perfecting your aim. This isn't a game of detailed flight mechanics. It's a game of understanding the basics of flight, aiming your plane and shooting.
Because of this, they give you time limits so there is *some* challenge. If you're too slow or not accurate enough, you'll have to replay the mission. I actually found this to be a nicer / fairer balance than giving you a paper tissue plane that exploded all the time. If you're going to be frustrated that you were too slow, that's something you can work on. If on the other hand they made you so flammable that you blew up all the time, that would be a sure recipe for frustration.
If you're good, then you can zip through the missions in the game in about a day or two. But that's only starting the fun. Now you get to go online and face the *real* challenges, for which the game was merely a preview. It's always far more challenging to face real live enemies than simple AI. Also, there is a ton of replayability because many of the planes won't unlock until you hit special goals in the missions. It gives you incentive to go back through the worlds, pushing yourself to go more quickly, to shoot with more precision.
I'm sure some people will complain about the lack of "modern technology" in World War II. You don't have radar on your screen, for example. That's the way things were! Heck, your enemies light up with red symbols making them super easy to spot even from a long way off. I'm sure WWII fighters didn't have that either :) That being said, surely WWII planes had air speed and level indicators! I'd like at least the option of turning on and off those basic visuals.
Still, I found it really immersive to fly over London, the widescreen graphics shoing me all the streets below, with the dark clouds above, and tons of planes circling around in the air attacking each other. You just sort of tune out the inane chatter part, listen to the air raid sirens and do your best to keep the civilians safe. There was plenty here to keep me having fun. If / when they come out with the next version, I'd just ask that they tone down the overly talkative characters.
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