I had the opportunity to play GlobalVR’s Blazing Angel’s arcade today so what better time to review than when the game is fresh in my mind? There are a few pictures in the review that I took with my camera phone so if you see a low quality shot, that’s where it came from.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII by GlobalVR
Released: March 2008
Blazing Angels Arcade is the latest game from GlobalVR to take a popular console title and bring it to arcades. Fly and fight in authentic WWII period fighter planes over six WWII campaigns over sites in Europe, Africa and the Pacific along with three different difficulty levels which can be selected by the player when they begin.
First off I should note that I have never played any title in the Blazing Angel’s series until I played the arcade version, so I do not know how it compares to the console versions. But one thing that I did catch as I played the game was that it plays well as an arcade title, and it was better than I had expected. The game allows you to roam freely around the levels although there is no time to go sight-seeing as you have controls in place to make sure that you don’t waste any time. First is the timer and second are the objectives. Each level has a couple of objectives to complete that will be given to you as you complete each task and for each objective the timer will reset according to how long it should probably take to complete that task. The objectives are always straight forward – destroy attacking planes or ground targets to keep them from destroying certain structures or so invading armies can advance. Depending on the difficulty, you may have assistance from wingmen or ground turrets that will assist you in dispatching all of the attacking enemies. Enemy planes first show up as yellow blips on your screen and your radar; they change to red when they are within firing range. Then the challenge is to line up your sights with the moving target and take them down.
Click on the post break below for the rest of the review
This is where the controls come into play. There are two joysticks that give you control of your plane – the one on the left is the throttle and moves up and down for slowing or accelerating and it also features a button on the side that when pressed will show you where your next target is. Then there is the flight stick located on the right of the cabinet that is used for aiming and firing. For aiming I found it adequate but it did take some practice to get some dead-on aiming when enemy planes were far away and evading my fire. There are no homing weapons of course so you have to strive to be accurate, which is where most of the challenge comes into play. There are two types of weapons – your standard machine guns and straight-firing rockets, triggers for which are located on the flight stick. The flight stick also has a button for your landing gear (which in the missions I played I never used) and a mini-thumbstick for giving out orders to your squadron (which is not explained in the game at all) which I assume correlates with an icon in the lower left corner of the screen which has indicators for what I believe is fall into formation, attack or defend.
As previously mentioned there are several stages to play from including London, Africa, Pearl Harbor, Midway, Rabaul, Ardennes and once those levels are beat, Berlin. There also is a dogfighter level which is a difficult round of eliminating enemy pilots. As has become standard with other GVR games, the stages themselves have a preset difficulty to them. There is only one easy stage and it gets harder from there. The easy level lets you get the hang of the game and after that you need to build up your skill otherwise you will fall. Interestingly enough they give you two lives to go through before you hit the game over screen – I am not sure if that is standard with the game or if it can be changed by the operator. In addition to the flight levels there is at least one level where you control a turret but I did not play that one.
I am pleased to say that Blazing Angels looks excellent and appears far better in motion than in the screen shots posted to the GVR website. Of course that is normal these days but the 42″ LCD HD screen is a start that really helps make this game stand out from some other games in the arcade but beyond that this is one title that looks just as good as a Playstation 3 title. I have not seen the PS3 version of this game in action but I wouldn’t be surprised to see minor differences, if any between the two. There are no jagged edges on the graphics, motion blur and HDR lighting are employed throughout the game and the textures seemed fine. Landscapes go on far into the distance are are generally quite detailed. I also noticed no slowdown as I played so all around this is one of the more impressive graphical packages that one can get in the arcade right now. The only complaint I have is the contrast – in missions like London it can be a little difficult to see your targets in certain situations between the very dark setting(for some reason the targeting markers don’t appear on occasion) and the glare on the screen. I’d really recommend for operators to make sure that this is in a place where you won’t get heavy glare from the surroundings. But it’s not a major issue and on missions other than London it’s easy to see what you need to attack.
I did notice that the attract mode was underwhelming. For some reason they used some low resolution footage of the game in action for explaining the basic steps of the game – I’m not sure why they couldn’t do a demo of the actual game showing how to play for the attract mode.
Unfortunately the sound was turned down on the cabinet that I played this on so I didn’t get the full experience. The soundtrack was fine but since the volume was so low I didn’t get the satisfaction of hearing my shots which threw me off more than once as I thought that I wasn’t firing when I actually was. From the sound system that I observed built into the cabinet, there is every indication that this one can pack a punch with the volume up a bit higher.
One of the most impressive parts of the arcade version of Blazing Angels is the cabinet. The sitdown cabinet is extremely detailed and well-lit and it felt like I was sitting in a cockpit cabinet when in fact I wasn’t. The front panel is covered with artwork that includes gauges like you might find on an old airplane and those are backlit and even flash when you have taken heavy damage. There is artwork all over the cabinet and there are so many details that you’ll probably miss a lot of it while walking through the arcade. The game has a large, attractive marquee and of course the giant screen. This is simply one great cabinet that will attract a crowd. I was at a distributor outlet and there was someone else there watching me play and jumped in as soon as I was done and I noticed them admiring the cabinet as well.
While I have never played Blazing Angels before this and I heard that it was a mediocre game on the consoles, I feel that it is a fun, addicting and challenging game for the arcade. It’s not perfect – I still had issues with aiming at times and there was the occasional glare problem (and the sound was down but that was not the games fault) but overall it is something different for arcades. The only thing close is Afterburner Climax but even that is a different beast with it’s frantic, on-rails gameplay. I have mentioned many times that arcades are in need of new blood beyond the light-gun shooters and the racers and Blazing Angels is a great start.