Everyone's favourite hound aviator, Snoopy, takes to the skies to shoot machine guns, rockets and a whole host of weapons at small children (and the Red Baron!) in aeroplanes. This is war with the gang from Peanuts.
This isn't the first Snoopy fighter pilot game. Studio Smart Bomb Interactive released Snoopy vs the Red Baron back in 2006, and Snoopy Flying Ace is the game's sequel. Flying Ace offers both a single player "Mission Mode" and a 16-player online multiplayer mode. The game puts players in a World War I-style propeller plane, having them dogfight in the skies above Europe. Switching between two different weapons, players try either to complete a given mission or come out on top of a multiplayer match. Not all single player missions require shooting; there are two "follow" missions in which players try to tail Charlie Brown. There are also "defend" missions that put players in turrets so they can shoot down planes. The game features unlockable weapons that can customise a wide variety of aeroplanes. Neat, but does Snoopy Flying Ace pass with flying colours?
Multiplayer Is Great: Don't think of Snoopy Flying Ace as a single player game. This is first and foremost a multiplayer experience. And what an experience! The issue that I have with many first person shooter multiplayer games is that the entry skill level is typically quite high. There are loads of FPS games, and players who typically play FPS games well play a lot of these online FPS games. That's totally fine! Since there are not a plethora of flying games, a multiplayer aeroplane game evens the playing field somewhat. Match options include multiplayer favourites like Deathmatch or Capture the Flag. There is also a multiplayer football game, too - with aeroplanes. I never could quite get my head around it, but the other multiplayer modes were so much fun, I never felt like I was missing anything.
It's Peanuts: I love Peanuts. Really, really love Charlie Brown, Charles M. Schultz, the works. I have so many happy memories from childhood that it would take a truly horrible Peanuts game to wipe the goofy smirk I had on my face while playing this game. The piano music during the "follow" missions was particularly magical in that it truly captured the mode of Peanuts. Wonderful presentation.
The Effing Blimps: Okay, the multiplayer in Snoopy Flying Ace is the draw here. The single player is a tutorial of sorts and does offer players the chance to unlock new weapons. So in that sense, it is important. The vast majority of single player is a breeze. And I had no problem with that! However, the two attack-the-blimp missions are uncharacteristically hard for the single player mode. I spent forever trying to figure out how to beat the first blimp, and the sudden spike in difficult threw me off. While the other missions were enjoyable, these just didn't feel fun at all. Felt as though I was left to flounder about and be frustrated. And the tactics employed seemed unfair at times - as if to drag out the experience unnecessarily. Some players might be able to whiz right through this part. Good for them. I, however, was not.
The two blimp missions were the only gripe I have with Snoopy Flying Ace. The rest of the game delivers. Cannot say enough good things about the multiplayer, which I truly, truly enjoy. I would not hesitate to recommend Snoopy Flying Ace, meanie blimps and all. It's a great dog fighting game. It's a great Xbox Live Arcade title.
Snoopy Flying Face was developed by Smart Bomb Interactive and published by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 on June 2. Retails for 800 Microsoft Points. A code to redeem the game was given to us by the developer for reviewing purposes. Beat the game, enjoyed multiplayer. A lot.
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