Over the years, the gaming world has seen plenty of World War II shooters and strategy titles, but few in the way of air combat games. Sure, you've got
IL-2 Sturmovik and other ultra realism based PC simulations like it, but when it comes to accessible pick-up and play WWII air combat games that focus
more on the action and less on the cockpit realism, the well has been pretty dry. This is set to change however with the up coming release of Ubisoft's
Blazing Angels 2: Secret Missions of WWII,
which is being developed by their Romania studio.
In this follow up to the original Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII, gamers take on the role of an elite US government controlled squad called
'Operation Wildcard' as they attempt to destroy the Third Reich's plans to create a super weapon. On the way, you will encounter and pilot some pretty super
weapons of your own, and today we're going to take a brief look at what you can expect in a handfl of BA2's historically accurate planes and (not so
historically accurate) weapon department.
[img]ba2_xb260_1[/img]Plane: Gotha Go 229
This prototype flying-wing fighter/bomber was a revolutionary concept and decades ahead of its time. Produced with the purpose of meeting Herman Goring's
very tough demands, it managed to achieve exceptional speed, maneuverability and carrying capacity, but wasn't finished in time to take part in the war. The
Go 229's strengths come with its versatility in both performance and armament, and is likely to become a regular fixture in the game's multiplayer scene.
The weapon of choice for the Go 229 is the 'Tesla Coil'. This is a very powerful defensive weapon that discharges a disruptive electrical current in the
air around the plane, incapacitating any enemy aircraft on a radius, for a brief period of time. It does not actually deal damage, but the incapacitated
enemies become easy targets for conventional weapons, not to mention that they have a high chance of crashing into an obstacle. The Go 229 would have surely
made Nikola Tesla proud - although it's probably
not quite as deadly as he had in mind with his proposed 'death ray'.
[img]ba2_xb260_2[/img]Plane: DH Vampire F Mk1
A more advanced jet-powered British aircraft than the RAF first 'Gloster Meteor', the Vampire or "Spider Crab" as it was also
known was the second jet in the RAF service used initially as an experimental craft, setting many aviation records in its time. It didn't see
combat during World War II, but was in use for a long time after it, serving in RAF until 1955. Like the Go 229, the Vampire is a versatile craft that can be
used effectively in both air to air combat, and air to
The Vampire in BA2 deploys a weapon known as the 'Flash Blinder'. This is a defensive weapon consisting of a number of powerful flashbulbs attached to the
rear of the plane's wings. When the system is fired, the flashbulbs light up, momentarily blinding anyone behind the plane and helping the pilot shake his
pursuers. Not exactly the most flashy (haw haw) defensive mechanism in BA2, but it is sure to prove its effectiveness nonetheless.
[img]ba2_xb260_3[/img]Plane: J7W Shinden
Japan's most advanced aircraft of the war, the Shinden was a very fast, but also maneuverable interceptor. Its design was quite unique, with the wings in
canard configuration and the propeller on the rear, in a pusher position. Its impact on the war was minimal though, because it came too late to help counter
the B-29 'Superfortress' raid threat it was designed to defeat. A jet powered version was also planned known as the J7W2, but this never materialized. While
being fast and maneuverable, the J7W is also
quite weak and won't take much to take out of the sky in BA2.
While it does remain alive though, the J7W can be deadly as it utilizes a weapon known as the 'High Velocity Cannon'. Late in the war, the more and more
well defended and heavily armored strategic bombers made it a necessity for fighters to bring heavier weaponry into the fray. A number of large caliber
weapons (like the Mk 103, a 30mm, high muzzle velocity German cannon) were developed. Due to the high projectile speed, the large caliber and the armor
piercing ammo, high velocity cannons act almost like sniper
rifles, allowing instant kills and sometimes multiple kills, as the projectiles can penetrate several targets in a row. As far as BA2 is concerned, think
Quake 3 Arena in the sky!
A heavy fighter weighing over 5000kg with a unique "push-pull" design (one engine at the front and one at the back), the Dornier Do-335 was perhaps the
most advanced propeller-driven aircraft of the war and was the dream of many German pilots. However, as with a lot of the more impressive German designs,
repeated production delays meant that very few of them were ever made for actual usage in the war. Nevertheless, production delays won't stop BA2, so gamers
should get used to the incredible maneuverability
(thanks to the unique design) and high top speeds of the Do-335, as it makes for a very good all round fighter.
With such a unique craft has to come a unique weapon, and as far as WWII technology expectations go, the Do-335 delivers with its 'TV guided missiles'.
These are manually guided missiles that can be used to attack long-distance targets with perfect accuracy. They were primarily developed to be used against
ships and other large targets, but they can be detonated in mid-air at the press of a button, so skilled pilots can even use them in air combat, sometimes
taking out more than one enemy with a single missile
blast. The only drawback is that, while the pilot is directing the missile, he cannot control his plane, which becomes an easy target.
The German made Me-262 was the first jet fighter to see wide use during World War II and, as such, can be credited with opening a new era in aviation. Its
speed allowed it to stay out of the range of propeller fighters and its powerful armament could devastate American bomber formations. While Allied forces
were working on jets aircraft of their own, the Me-262 with its max speed of over 850km/h must have been a sight of shock and awe for those witnessing its
power, terming the nickname "Stormbird"
amongst the allies. This impressive performance shows up in BA2 as well, offering a good all round jet fighter versatile enough to take on missions of any
To compliment the 262's speed, its weapon of choice in BA2 is the 'Stun Smoke'. This defensive weapon leaves behind a trail of vapor that has the effect
of stopping combustion, causing any aircraft flying through it to choke and lose all engine power. The engine of the victim aircraft restarts after some
seconds of being away from the vapor, but there is enough time for the player who has used the Stun Smoke to turn and catch his opponent defenseless with the
quickness of the 262. Of course, since the smoke
is visible, it can be avoided, but avoiding the smoke makes it much harder to target the aircraft that uses it, so it remains a very useful defensive
mechanism in any regard.
So there you have it - whether it's the elaborate defensive measures of the Vampire, Go-229 or the Me-262, or the firepower of the J7W and the
Do-335, Blazing Angels 2 is set to combine a lot of real world "what could have been" technology with a fair bit of far out there weaponry
you'll only ever find in a arcade/sim hybrid such as this. This is just a taste of what's on offer however, as the game will feature over 50 authentic and
prototype planes in total. Watch out for its release in the coming week for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.