Oh, Ace Combat, why did you have to do this to me?
I'm a big fan of the series, it's always been a blast to play, and yes there were low times, but never so much as this. Now, i'm not saying that the game is 100% terrible, it DOES have it's pros, but it has many more cons. I'll list them below;
-The plane flight mechanics feel tight and responsive, sure they're not realistic, but we're not playing Ace Combat for realism, are we? We're playing it for the fun of doing crazy air stunts and gunning down people along the way.
-The sound design is nothing spectacular, but it does it's job. The guns and the music are serviceable. Now, the old Ace Combats had some great soundtracks with some spectacularly memorable pieces. DO NOT expect those here. But, at the same time, it's not terrible.
- The planes, while not being the highest texture quality you've ever seen, are pretty damn sexy. As are some of the spark and explosion effects, it does feel good to gun down planes out of the sky and watch them burst into flames.
- The dogfighting system. Now, this one just relies on how you feel about the system. The dogfighting system allows you to lock onto an enemy and kep on their tail while firing at them. Alternatively, enemies can also do this to you. It does allow for some pretty cinematic chases, but ultimately after about three times it's already gotten old. What it actually boils down to is this: Lock onto the enemy. Wiggle stick a bit. Fire. Move on. Find new target. Lock onto new target. Wiggle stick a bit. Fire. Move on.
It makes the game just a million times easier and means that instead of having these amazing dogfights where you're doing all these crazy stunt mid air, it just means that you see an enemy...and now he's dead.
Most of the time.
In order to combat you doing this, the game suffers from the same artificial diffficulty that a lot of plane games suffer from, whereby your target will just perpetually fly away from you. Get an enemy into your line of sight, and all of a sudden they pull up. And up. And up. And then you pull up. And up. And up. And now you're just spinning a hundred times before you can lock him into your dogfighting system. No skill needed.
The next thing that annoys me is that the enemies can also lock YOU into the DFS (dog fighting system). It seems like a good idea, having to escape them, but it just boils down to doing exactly what the enemies do to you! You're chasing someone for aaaages and then BAM you're taken right out of it, so what do you do? Pull up until you escape. Now you can continue to chase NOPE YOU'RE BACK IN IT WHOOAAA CRAZY RIGHT? PULL UP PULL UP okay we're free again, now to finally chase that NOOOOOOOPE I'M BACK ♥♥♥♥♥ES.
-The helicopter missions. They're awful. You fly around a horribly controlled helicopter, gunning down floor enemies and the occasional helicopter. That's it. The heliocopter controls terribly, as i've mentioned, and the whole missions are just uninspired. Use these boring weapons and this boring helicopter and shoot some cars. Woo. Do that multiple times throughout the game.
-The turret sequences. OH? WHAT'S THAT? YOU DIDN'T LIKE THE HELICOPTER SEQUENCES? ALRIGHT WELL TELL YA WHAT, HOW ABOUT WE TAKE OUT THE WHOLE FLYING THE HELICOPTER THING AND JUST GIVE YOU A ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ TURRET? Yeah, thanks developers. There's literally whole missions where you load in, and shoot a turret for about 20 minutes at some foot soldiers, and then move on. No variety, no challenge, no interest, nothing. Just point at people and click. You don't even get to move around on your own. Just point and click. Oh you wanna do something else? NOPE. POINT AND CLICK.
-The voice acting. It's awful. There's not much to say except that everyone is just Mr Generic McGenericson or Mrs Genericson and her Generic babies. Maybe it's not even that bad, but seriously it's so generic that I think it dulled my senses.
-The story. Spoilers, i guess, but hoestly just read any Tom Clancy novel and you've heard this story. While the game is voiced by Mr Generic Genericson, the story was written by his superhero alter ego; JERRY GENERICMAN! American hero. He's the hero we need. Other people. They're the heroes we need. Terrorists have a bad plot to blow up some people! Quick; call America! Oh no, a Generic non-american bad guy who wants to do bad stuff. WE STOPPED HIM JUST IN TIME. BUT WILL YOU MAKE IT BACK IN ONE PIECE? Yes. Roll credits.
-The AC130 missions. Just fancier disguised turret sections.
Overall this game was a huge disappointment. Are you a huge fan of the series and you're just ACHING for more? Sure, pick it up on sale and just slog your way through it. Only have a slight interest? Just don't buy it. There are plenty of other plane games that you could get that are ultimately better.