September 8th, 2010, 23:59 Posted By: A_Dave
Publisher/Developer: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Smart Bomb Interactive
Release: June 2nd 2010
Genre: Arcade Flight Combat
Players: Single-player, Online Multiplayer
Before I begin talking about the game I would like to first offer up my own thoughts on the Peanuts license. I am a fan of Charles Schultz's creations. To the point that I wore exclusively snoopy ties for nearly a week after his passing. What can I say, some people express grief in more artistic ways, poetry, art, music, me, I use formal attire. It's actually surprising to me that more games haven't used the license in the past The characters are so iconic and their charm so malleable that you could easily think of it being applied to say a kart racer or party game.
On the surface you have a fairly run of the mill arcade style flight combat game with all the trimmings you would expect from a kart racing game. The weapons are over the top and varied, the landscapes sufficiently colourful and charming. The flying itself is simple to pick up. A is boost, X for the air break allowing for a tighter turning circle and all evasive moves, barrel rolls and 180 turns, are mapped to the right stick. The weapons, health and boost are all rechargeable which works wonderfully because you never feel out of the game as long as you can just avoid combat for a few moments and recuperate. All the planes have the same main machine gun that feels a bit under powered compred to the special weapons. These range from the simple to the ridiculous, shotgun like shells are great up close but don't even scratch at long range. Poison missiles have great range, but close up they are fully capable of missing the side of a barn. There are EMP bombs that will drain the life of anyone on your tail. You have a choice of any two at the start of the matches and honestly, the amount of weapons is excellent and when coupled with the mix and match mechanics of choosing two you can come up with some very personalised and effective combinations.
The single player game doesn't offer up much more than a training ground to hone the skills required in multi-player. There are several different types of missions that will test various abilities. There are standard defeat X number enemies to proceed, or collect X number of MacGuffins (in this case Woodstock and his friends) while trying to avoid obstacles. Its all rather standard fare. I do not exaggerate when I say that most will breeze through the single player in one sitting. There are around 18 missions and some are so short as to have rewards for finishing them in a time of under one and a half minuets.
I should also note that while flight combat is the backbone of the game there is some variety in play provided by controllable turrets that when occupied can quickly turn the tide of battle in your favour. There are also missions that involve you controlling the bombs and turrets of a high altitude bomber. These didn't really bring anything new to the experience for me. If it almost like an idea that was implemented to the point where it could be included, but never incorporated to the point where it should have been.
Multi-player is where this game really shines. The combat is chaotic and fast. Sometimes it is hard too know exactly what is going on and you will from time to time be shot down by someone without ever having gotten a fix on there location, this is balanced, however, by the times that you are the one giving out the surprise kills on an unsuspecting victim of your own. The eight arenas are just that, arenas, think quake 3 but in the sky. There a a few hidden and secluded areas within them but the real action takes place in and around the central expanse of which ever map your playing in.
The modes in multi-player and the standard fare and the only two that I have seen played online are team and free-for-all death match. The other modes are dog pile, where one player collects the bone and is then a target for all the others and at the end whoever has the bone the longest wins and lastly pigskin, think American football but with planes and you have the general idea.
I can easily recommend this game to a variety of people. I think that it is a great family game in the sense that children can enjoy the single player, the older siblings the multi-player and the adults can just have fun shooting people out of the sky while controlling Snoopy on a killer flying dog house.
In summation, this game is like the battle mode in Mario Kart, only replace Mario with Snoopy and replace kart with plane. It is a great package that has something for almost everyone and is a fine addition to the XBLA catalogue.
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