Blazing Angels: Squadrons of World War II E3 2005 Hands-On

We get a look at Ubisoft's upcoming game of aerial combat set during the greatest conflict in history.


Ubisoft has a playable demo of Blazing Angels: Squadrons of World War II at its E3 booth, and we hopped on the demo kiosk to see how this aerial combat game is shaping up. One of the game's developers said that its 20 missions would span the greatest air battles of the war, from the Battle of Britain all the way up to Berlin. You'll get to fly over 45 planes hailing from the US, British, Japanese, and German fleets, which we'd think will provide for a whole lot of variety. You even get a custom graphic for each of these plane's in-cockpit perspectives, if you're into that whole realism thing.

Blazing Angels plays more like an arcade flight game than a sim. The controls are quite easy to pick up, and the game auto-targets incoming threats on your minimap and also puts a directional arrow near your reticle to make it easy to know where you should fly to shoot down more planes. The demo we tried let us play a mission set at Pearl Harbor at the beginning of the infamous 1941 Japanese attack, and we had to fight off a combination of fighters and bombers before they could take out all of the battleships docked in the harbor.

You've got some tricks up your sleeve during each mission to keep the enemy forces at bay. For instance, you have a couple of wingmen you can issue orders to--they'll help keep bogeys off your tail, naturally. Another interesting feature is a midmission combo repair system. The idea is, your friend is some kind of whiz-kid engineer and has rigged up your plane to somehow sort of, uh, repair itself during flight based on what kind of damage it's taken. Whatever. It's really just an excuse to let you heal yourself without having to land or interrupt the mission, which is fine with us. When you're nearly dead, the game will pop up a button-combo sequence onscreen that you have to input quickly to regain plane health and to keep plowing through the mission.

Blazing Angels is an Xbox exclusive, and as such it's looking pretty nice. The maps are purportedly up to 50 scale-kilometers in size, and feature lots of nice details, like reflective water and even dozens of tiny little people running around on runways or the decks of ships. The game has respectable multiplayer support for four players via split-screen or up to 16 on Xbox Live. You'll fly objective-based missions similar to those found in the single-player when you get online with the game, which ought to give Blazing Angels some extra longevity after you've won the war offline.

Blazing Angels is currently slated for release in September. We'll bring you more on the game soon.

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