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Nintendo Wii Review: Blazing Angels

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It's not as if the world needed another arcade-styled flight game. It's not as if we needed another game set in World War II either. However, this is a World War II arcade-styled flight game on the Wii, and that makes a difference.

Blazing Angels does little to challenge the player, something important to know immediately. The 18-mission campaign is brief because of it. This is also affected by a complete lack of online play, which crushes the replay value aside from the title’s enjoyable mechanics that make it worth playing through a few times.

Set inside an alternate spin on WWII, Angels follows the well-known conflicts and inserts its own along the way. Most of the missions use the actual events to increase the intensity, or provide a new perspective. The D-Day battle in particular becomes a fresh way to experience the war's most overused entertainment set piece by bombing bunkers or silencing troops trying to make the advance on beached allied soldiers.

That's one of numerous unforgettable moments. A fight above Paris involves taking out AA guns perched atop the Eiffel Tower and sweeping in between buildings at low altitudes to take out approaching tanks. This event is lessened on the Wii by a poorly done port. Muddy textures and low-grade models even when in progressive scan make it difficult to tell the difference between things on the ground.

As is probably expected, not all of the game's missions are that thrilling. An early outing sticking the player with the task of flying blind in a sandstorm to find German encampments should forever be outcast by those who are patient enough to deal with it. Another forcing sharp turns through a London river (with the city banking both sides) with limited altitude is one of the (unfairly) toughest in the game.

A key complaint when the title found its home on the Xbox 360 was the atrocious and nearly offensive voice acting. That’s all been changed for this Wii port. All of the dialogue has been re-recorded, deleting almost all enemy taunts and adding to the story post-mission. While this forces the player to fly aimlessly as a narrator adds the necessary character development, it’s a wonderful touch that expands Blazing Angels' universe.

Flight is difficult to separate in video games. Angels offers a few options to differentiate itself to stand out. The majority of missions offer wingmen who are at your command. While not always the brightest pilots to take command, they do help when a request is made for their specific talents, and will actually shoot down enemy planes regularly. It's something that's sorely lacking from flight titles for years.

The targeting system is the key feature here, and its greatest innovation. While it eliminates the cockpit view for the sake of implementing it, Angels allows the player to stay focused on a target as they fly by holding the A button. This eliminates the need for a radar (though it wouldn't have hurt), makes finding the right enemy painless, and does so without being too disorienting initially when switching to new targets.

The only issue with this is watching your altitude. Since you're focused on a target, you can easily flip upside down and not know it until you're a few feet above the ground. Some missions present this problem worse than others, especially those that use the bloom effect a little too well.

This problem is made larger by the Wii controls, though the advantages here far outweigh the benefits of motion control. Numerous options exist, including one that crams all functions onto the Wii Remote. The best stick with the nunchuck attachment and Wii Remote. Turning and diving is intuitive and natural with this set up.

Turning brings problems in that twisting the Remote too far causes the plane to right itself. In a tense battle, it’s hard not to become involved and twist hoping for that extra turn for a better shot. It happens a little too often to not be a problem, but the rest of the controls are otherwise mapped beautifully.

Putting gunfire on the nunchuck actually gives the player the feeling of holding a throttle, and some slightly more forgiving collision detection helps players who have a hard time figuring the controls out. The immersion level skyrockets and feels natural as you trail enemy planes tightly weaving your body in sync with the on-screen action. It allows you to play without thinking about what your thumbs are doing and instead creates a physical connection that no other console can touch.

While Blazing Angels isn't completely original, it separated itself enough to be an Xbox 360 highlight, while this Wii edition, barring some hideous graphics and control snafus, becomes the best single player version of this under appreciated title to date. If the online play is a deal breaker however, stick with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 editions. It deserves to be recognized for what it does right regardless of the platform.

Blazing Angels is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Mild Language and Violence. This game can also be found on: PC, PS3, Xbox, and Xbox 360.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.