Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII Preview
It's a lot closer than everyone thinks in terms of a release (only a week away!), so now's the time to really get a close-up look at Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII.
Originally released for multiple platforms (Xbox, Xbox 360, and PC), the game returned to Ubisoft for some tweaking and added enhancement for the PS3 version. Although anyone who has played the game will already know what it's about, we're wondering what differences the PS3 version will boast, and if it's worthy of being called the best multiplat version. Well, with a bunch of different missions and a truly immersive in-air experience, the game might just be something special; after all, Ubisoft has plenty of potential to deliver the goods.
We know the game includes missions that revolve around the events of Pearl Harbor, but as is normally the case with flight games, you'll begin with a simple tutorial mission that may or may not be related to anything historical. You'll be able to gain a good handle on the controls, get into a mini-skirmish that involves a few enemy fliers, and in general, get down and dirty, WWII-style. Just remember, they are calling this a "Flight Sim," so we're beginning to wonder just how realistic - and thus, how accessible - Blazing Angels will be.
As you dodge and weave your way through a slew of enemies in the air, many missions won't give you the standard and repetitive objective of "kill everything in sight!" No, sometimes you'll just be forced to buy some time for the allies by surviving a heavy onslaught and taking out whatever you can, while other times, you'll dive low to assist in surface-area bombing, and that includes targets on both land and water. No matter what, every mission will present a non-stop barrage of hectic action, regardless of the objective, so don't you worry about getting bored.
That Pearl Harbor mission(s) we mentioned earlier takes place about halfway through the game, supposedly, and this will present a whole new set of terrifying goals. That day, the "day that will live in infamy," was characterized by the sudden ambush of the Japanese fighters and the ensuing panic of American forces on the ground and in the harbor. Therefore, you're not prepared for your mission, which means you'll be forced to start up your plane in the hanger, taxi down the runway, and take off amidst a hail of enemy gunfire. Now that's something to look forward to; not enough games fully capture the accuracy and feel of true-to-life events.
More good news: the game continues after the Pearl Harbor incident, and you and a couple buddies are out for vengeance. The last mission, entitled Surprise Attack, has you flying low so as to avoid radar, with the ultimate goal of sinking a bunch of Japanese gunships and aircraft carriers. But again, Ubisoft institutes another aspect not commonly found in flight games. As you approach this mission, the key is to remain undetected, so you had best practice flight stealth, or you will fail in your honorable endeavor. It appears there's going to be a lot more to this game than just dogfights.
Perhaps best of all, it's not just you up there, taking on tremendous odds and just hoping to survive. You'll usually head to the skies with several wingmen, whom you have control over by issuing them a set of specific commands. You can always try to hold formation for a big attack, but if things are getting out of control, you can have an ally break off to either act as defense or take down a specific target. We don't know how much flight strategy will be used in any given mission, but this option alone should add a great deal to the overall experience.
As for your own aircraft, be prepared to utilize the Sixaxis' motion sensitivity controls. In order to pitch, yaw, ascend, descend, and roll to the left and right, you'll tilt the controller in a variety of directions, while using the shoulder buttons for throttle and guns. We're a little concerned about this, as it's an entirely new mechanic that's hardly tried-and-true, and the key will revolve around the responsiveness and accuracy of the motion sensitivity. We can only imagine how frustrating it would be to tilt the controller quickly to avoid enemy fire, only to watch an on-screen delay in movement, thus resulting in an in-air disaster.
All in all, though, Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII looks to be a promising title, and should assist the lackluster PS3 lineup. Should it be on your Christmas list this year? Well, we hope to deliver a review soon to help you answer that question.
12/6/2006 Ben Dutka