In order to enjoy this game, you need to go in with an open mind and forget everything you know about Ace Combat. This is not an Ace Combat game. It's more like Call of Duty: Jet Fighter Edition. The story is pretty flat and is your typical 'Murrica vs terrorists plot. Also, make sure you turn off Flight Assist and change the control scheme to Original for the best experience.
Most people complain about DFM (Dogfight Mode) being too on-rails, and for the most part, they're right. There are some targets (called TGT_LEAD) that require you to engage DFM and follow them through a semi-scripted segment of cinematic explosions and debris before you can do any damage to them. I don't care for this feature myself, but it's not a big deal and it's fun to watch. For normal targets though, it's much more dynamic, as you can play a game of cat and mouse by counter maneuvering each other in DFM, or you can choose to not use DFM at all. Personally, I think that DFM, while a tad repetitive, is quite exhilarating. The helicopter and gunner missions are pretty grueling and last longer than they should, but fortunately there's only a few of them. They can be fun and intense at times though, especially on higher difficulties.
The multiplayer is where this game really shines, and now that the game is going on Steamworks, we should hopefully see more players. Capital Conquest is incredibly fun, and you can be a fighter, an attacker, or a helicopter and defend your HQ while capturing additional bases to spawn closer to the enemy's HQ. The aircraft are balanced so that fighters don't do much damage to ground targets, while attackers have an insane damage modifier against them, with the downside of being unable to engage DFM. Once your team captures the central control tower, you can go into ASM (Airstrike Mode) against the enemy's HQ as an attacker or multirole. You can attack the HQ directly without ASM but it's not as efficient, since ASM increases your reload speed. Helicopters are excellent for HQ defense since they can hover and shoot down incoming attackers. If you get 8 kills in a row, you can load up your PAK-FA with Trinity (tactical nuke) and decimate a wide area of ground targets. When your HQ's health bar gets low, someone on your team can make a desperate last ditch effort by launching in a B1 or B2 bomber and deal a large amount of damage to the enemy's HQ, but you better provide cover for him on his way there. There are tons of skills to unlock with points you earn from multiplayer, which include weapon damage boosts, improved homing missiles, increased armor, and improved maneuverability. All the skills are pretty balanced and none are too overpowered (except maybe Burst which maxes out defense, but it costs a lot of points and has a limited amount of uses).
If you're thinking about getting this game, get it for the multiplayer, You can play multiple roles other than a fighter, and the dogfighting is more fun and less predictable since you won't be spending the whole round circling each other which ends up happening in most other multiplayer jet games.
Posted: February 20th, 2014