Seven months on from launch, and we're finally seeing more multi-format releases appearing and Xbox 360 exclusive content slowly ebbing. Sadly, Blazing Angels has turned out to be one of those final nails in the coffin - another multi-format game wrapped in next-generation visuals glibly passed off as an Xbox 360 game.
It's not that the game is a complete clanger in any way; it just reeks of an experience nearly ten years old now. Any gamer will immediately be at home with the flight mechanics and mission objectives - but there's a difference between familiarity and cliché. The 18 missions on offer covering many historic aerial battles of World War II - and some that must have missed the history books - may be varied geographically, but they lack any real originality.
An initial sweep over England's countryside in the training mission lets you practice bombing runs over the local church (don't worry folks - artillery is replaced by vast streams of toilet roll) and engaging a few stray German fighter planes that have somehow penetrated British soil and are now eager to corrupt the radio waves with their exaggerated 'zwine' German accents.
The voice acting is a prime example of the game's fractured stylistic focus. The overall look, with mock newsreels between levels and a structured story following your squadron's progress through the war, raises the expectation for an experience akin to Call of Duty 2's - brutal but involving. What you get is cartoon voice acting that plays on crude stereotyping rather than realistic commentary. Even your own wingmen are broken into easily digestible character types that we've seen countless times before.
Fifteen minutes later and the game replaces the quaint English village with Dunkirk, the solitary church with enemy troops and ups the German fighters from solo to several whole squadrons. The relocation sadly doesn't make that much of a difference, as while you're busy trying to target an enemy plane, the colour and shape of your surroundings fades into the background. This continues for the rest of the missions, with only London being worthy of a heartfelt 'wow' at the brief vision of a detailed landscape before it blurs as you dive across the sky.
Once you're in the sky, the gameplay quickly grates - you end up doing the same thing over and over and the game isn't vibrant enough to capture any sense of adventure.
The dogfights in the skies are a lot of fun, but they fly a fine line between tense standoffs and frustration. Achieving a five-star rating and a better designation of your flight rank just doesn't have the same sense of achievement as other games out there. There's some enjoyment to be had with the side missions (the Duel sub-game in particular) and Xbox Live play has promise, but Blazing Angels is too light on challenge to make the fifty quid price tag worth it.
Wins a bronze for dated aerial combat
- Planes are heavily detailed
- Dogfights are great fun
- Ranges from easy to frustrating
- Not worth fifty quid
- A lazy Xbox 360 conversion