The Ace Combat series has been kicking around for the last couple of decades, but I only really got into the games with Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. The game was a fun introduction to the series, especially for someone starved of arcade flight combat games since the days of X-Wing. The one criticism I had was the “Dog Fighting Mode” mechanic that made the game a bit of an on-rails shooter, albeit initiation of the mode was at the players prompting. Thankfully the mode has been dropped for this game, number seven in the main series, and it is all the better for it.
The game has that “Same but Different” feel as it once again takes place on Strangereal, a name that is a bit too cute and too on-the-nose for an almost Earth-like planet bar a couple of minor differences. All the planes, even the calendar is the same as the real world’s, just the politics and the continents and countries are different. In this installment, a surprise attack by the country of Erusea on Osea kicks off a desperate battle of survival for your faceless, voiceless and blank slate character known only by his callsign Trigger. In fact, the story features another character far more prominently, someone I thought would be my avatar. Avril Mead is the focal point of the cutscenes and gets far more development than your hero-turned-wrongfully-convicted anti-hero which is an odd choice.
Not that this really matters as the story is the typical anime-style story that is nigh incomprehensible. No doubt the fact that I haven’t played any of the previous six games in the main series plays a part in that lack of comprehension, but even so the story tends to be opaque while jumping between Trigger, Avril and other characters from the Erusean side. The story serves as an interlude between the twenty missions, the true heart of the game.
And what a heart it is, you are thrust into the skies tasked with facing off against hordes of enemy pilots and drones. In many ways this reminds me of a shooting game’s Horde Mode, as Ace Combat 7 throws waves of enemies at you and the occasional boss. Mechanically, the game balances light simulation elements with the more visceral and immediate arcade mechanics. With two options of control scheme, Standard and Expert, allowing you to balance fun against increased control.
Mechanically, the game balances light simulation elements with the more visceral and immediate arcade mechanics.
Each plane that you buy unlocks new paths on the tech tree for upgrades, and new special weapons which in turn open new paths to newer planes and upgrades.
Grumpy Old Man who still collects toys (THEY. ARE. NOT. DOLLS), PC Gamer lured to the Dark Side of console gaming, comic book reader and fan of all things pop culture.
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PC, PS4, Xbox One
18 January 2019
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