After passing through the nine circles of hell, I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of this title, and as some of you might know, I am one of the fiercest Ace Combat fan out there, and was ridiculously hyped for the return of the franchise to the Playstation console. But as history already thought us, come-backs generate a hell of a lot of hype, but end up being a huge disappointment (case in point Chinese Democracy), but once I hit that start button all my fears have gone away and the acne infested teenager in me came screaming out.
Plot: Set in 2015, the story revolves around the life of LT. Colonel Bishop, a very talented pilot leading the Warwolf squadron in the war against a rebel group threatening the safety of the East African Continent. The Warwolf squadron forms part of the 108th task force which amalgamates the military forces of the NATO and Russia. During one of the several attempts to bring down the rebels the task force learns about a nuclear powered bomb code named Trinity in the rebels’ possession. Tensions start to flair between the Russian Military force and the NATO, and during a mission to safeguard the air base, half of the Russian fleet turn against the Warwolf Squadron and join the rebels lead by Colonel Markov, one of the highest decorated and fiercest fighter pilots Bishop will ever encounter. Things start to turn sour as the rebels’ fleet start bombing random cities, and the 108th task force are in a race against time to bring them down.
Audio and Video: The Ace Combat series has always looked good, and had some visual characteristics that added to that charisma that is unique to the franchise. The menus and layout have been kept the same, making me rekindle my past memories of playing this game. The Aircraft modelling and textures are nothing short of fantastic, and the way the aircraft behaves when it faces different environments, speeds, and impacts is extremely realistic. The character models are a bit sloppy in terms of rendering but it is completely justifiable since the game focuses mainly on the aircrafts. The cut scenes are extremely cinematic and realistic, and sometimes you are left amazed by the action going on in front of you. The sceneries and environments are rendered really well, and buildings, landmarks, and monuments destructible. The soundtrack is amazing and adapts really well to the actions you are doing, I think that this OST is the best of the franchise by far. The voice acting is at times forced, and the fake accent of the Russian characters gives the game a cheesy feel in some instances, making a serious scene feel like it’s a comedy skit. The sound-effects of the aircrafts, explosions, and the quality of the surround is really good, and all in all you can really experience the warzone as it’s meant to be.
Gameplay: Ace Combat titles have always evolved in a distinct manner, and ever title had to have a new gameplay mechanic or a new feature. This title boasts several new gameplay features and at times it really diverts from air to air combats with several new mission styles. Air to Air combat has been tweaked to perfection and AI is spot on. Taking down leading targets is hard and they can only be taken down by engaging in dog fight mode (DFM). The DFM is extremely fast paced and action packed, in close quarter view you have to chase the enemy down and try to lock on target, sharp turns a low flight in civilian occupied cities make the chase even harder, and in some instances another enemy fighter will lock on to you, when this happens you can push hard on your brakes and perform a quick barrel roll making the prey become the predator. We also now saw the inclusion of quick time events when you need to eject from a plane or during interactive cut scenes. The non air to air combat missions include, helicopter missions, satellite view missions (reminiscent of COD MW), turret missions, and more. The game is action packed from start to end, and it feels and plays fantastic, the only ‘cons’ I can think of is that the non air to air combat missions tend to be boring and dragging at times, and X and Y axis cannot be inverted for turret mission, but that’s it.
Personal Experience: Namco had a lot to prove with this title, hard core fans from the PS1 era have been waiting for a comeback for ages, and this game targets only the niche market that is basically made up of these followers. Being part of this niche group of people, I feel that Namco have done a fantastic job in giving something back to the community who supported them through all these years, and you can clearly see the passion and love for the aircrafts when you take a leap into the world of Ace Combat, and it’s this passion that sets it apart from any other air combat title in the world.
Overall Rating: 9/10
Written by: Matthew C.