Screaming low over the roofs of London while unleashing a scorching fury of bullets into a formation of hapless Nazi pilots brings a joy that warms our justice-loving hearts for days afterward. Executing a flawless barrel-roll in between the legs of the Eiffel Tower to evade a German ace hell-bent on swiss-cheesing your fuselage delivers unmatched satisfaction. While tooling around in a WWII plane may not sound complicated, that lack of complexity is exactly what makes it such good fun.
Blazing Angels mixes realistic looks with an arcadey experience that grabs you by your most basic instincts. You don't need the years of training and study it would take to actually be a pilot to appreciate this. It taps into that part of the brain that lives to line targets up in cross-hairs and let go a raging tide of metal and death.
Just fire up the engine of your P-51 Mustang and gun down foes, either in the sky, on the ground or in the water. That's the premise: shoot all the bad guys. Simple idea? You betcha. Simple to do? Not so much.
Many of the enemies you face in Blazing Angels are extremely talented dogfighters, skilled at dropping bogeys. This is especially true if you venture online where your opponents (up to 15 others) are flesh-and-blood aces looking for an opening to plug you full of ammunition. Grudges erupt shockingly often online.
Regardless of who you challenge to an air-duel, you're in for some intensely cinematic sky combat. The Follow Camera (engaged by holding the left trigger) focuses the camera on your current target and results in spectacular movie-like scenes of airborne assault. Couple the Follow Camera with unbelievably rendered skies and you have a palette for some amazing views of fight in-flight - such as when you peel around the rear of a German Messerschmitt, lining up your shot as the sun blooms from the overcast skies of Dunkirk.
Blazing Angels is not without a few notable flaws, however, and the frequency of times enemy pilots shout their bile at you definitely starts to grate after awhile. In fact, the voice acting in general is not so hot, but it's an insignificant quibble next to the pure handling of the planes. As we weaved through wave after wave of enemies, downing them wholesale, we couldn't help but wish there had been a replay feature included with the game. Still, for the raw, explosive fury of aerial battle, you can accept no substitute for Blazing Angels.