Xbox 360 Preview: Blazing Angels

Taking WWII out of the first-person genre for the first time in what feels like ages, Blazing Angels isn't re-inventing the arcade flight genre. It follows a familiar line set up by Namco's Ace Combat, but adds a kitschy feel and a superb targeting system. The currently available demo on the Marketplace offers players three levels to try, and it's likely enough to sell this one.

Flight mechanics are difficult to separate from other games, and aside from spinning the right analog stick to bring the propeller up to speed, the feel is purely set in fantasy, even though it's set during one of the worlds worst conflicts. This is over-the-top action, and the simplified controls allow for pick-up-and-play action. The only thing separating it is a targeting system, and a fine one at that.

Enabling the player to lock on and see their target no matter which direction they're looking is disorienting at first. It takes a few minutes to adjust, and after the realization sets in that you're never overshooting targets, there's almost no change to be made when in close, and you're in constant view of your enemies, it hits you that it's perfect.

This is, without a doubt, the biggest advancement to the genre since 3-D came about. With this, there's no need for a radar system either, and you don't miss it. It's going to be difficult to make the adjustment when other games don't use it.

The only real flaw is the land targeting system, almost the exact opposite of the one used for flight. The red circle easily slips off the bottom of the screen, and since it's the only guide as to where the bombs will drop, it's a critical miscalculation. The opening training mission makes it almost an impossibility to make a bombing run accurately. It's not a game to judge by this mission. Things pick up (graphically as well) after this introduction.

While it's likely to be overshadowed by the numerous releases this month, the people who find it will have an incredible experience waiting for them. The three level demo doesn't even feature multi-player. Blazing Angels is looking superb, and if the quality stays consistent for the entire game, it's an easy purchase.

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