April 10, 2007 When this landed on my desk to review, I had my doubts - of the forty million or so World War II games released during my years of gaming, I can count the ones I've enjoyed on one hand. Thankfully, Blazing Angels stands out from the noise just by not being a first-person shooter, and rekindles the almost forgotten air-combat genre. If piloting one of 50 authentic World War II era aircraft through several key battles over historic sites like Dunkirk, Pearl Harbor, Midway and Berlin sounds like your thing, read the full review.
This is a port of a game that has been available for over a year on Xbox 360 and PC, but there's extra content in the form of 10 extra planes, 2 extra missions, an exclusive multiplayer mode, and the most important addition being the ability to pilot your plane with the Sixaxis tilt controls.
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It's an arcade style of gameplay that's incredibly easy to pick up and play, despite what I had imagined. While things start off fairly easy, by the later stages the player is generally outnumbered in intense battles that are far more fantasy than reality - and quite difficult. The single-player campaign is lengthy, and will take more than a few sessions to conquer entirely - there's a more than a few missions that will take multiple attempts to pass successfully.
The Sixaxis controls took me by surprise - using the tilt for controlling a plane works quite well. I found the Sixaxis controls much more enjoyable for bombing and torpedo missions, but during the more intense aerial dogfights it sometimes became a fight with the controls more than the enemy planes.
Everything in the air looks fantastic, but there's been little work done in areas that really could have seen substantial improvement, such as the graphical detail of everything that takes place on the ground, the missing 1080i / 1080p display modes, and the framerate issues that have impacted just about every version of the game to date.
There's several multiplayer modes on offer, enough to keep you going for a while. The real disappointment here is the lack of voice chat, which makes things pretty boring, especially when you're waiting for players to join a game. This makes the split-screen two-player experience much more entertaining, due to being able to strategise or talk trash with one and other, depending on the game mode.
While Blazing Angels is not a brilliant game by any means, it's worthy of a rental at the very least (provided you missed the game in it's initial incarnations) - and the Playstation 3 version is arguably the best of the lot.
Tim HanlonView gallery - 2 images