Ace Combat 6 is substantially better then Zero and maybe 5, it is a beauty to look at but is that all?
So the game is about 7 hours long, provides a plethora of ways to begin a sortie and the game is absolutely beautiful to look at.
So that is the good...
Now, a little background about myself: I have played every Ace Combat from its inception on the PSX to the PS2 and now onto the 360, so I'm pretty confident I've got the series down.
If you've played Ace Combat 4 you'll be familiar with the theme in 6.
The story takes place in a fictional setting with pretty outlandish and creative designs and weaponry you'll be contending with and for the record, I'm not very fond of bosses exclusively targeting my plane amongst the dozens of allied fighters in the air; it just ain't fair...until I blow them out of the sky. To avoid giving away the plot you'll be taking on a series of campaigns amusingly designed to show you the nooks and crannies of Ace Combat's new engine, no pun intended. From thousands of feet up to thousands of inches from the ground, the guys @ Namco give you a run for your money as you're set (with a wingman) to literally change the tides of war as the two man army (when he's responsive...) blow everything out of the sky, water, ground, and underground. You'll be tasked with mission objectives over an ENTIRE battlefield and you can pick or choose which objectives you'd like to complete, keeping in mind certain objectives will grant you alliance backup and so objectives will grant you havens...for example: a runway.
These campaigns/ missions will be set throughout a fictional continent where you'll experience everything from the deserts, to the cities, the cities to the glaciers, from the glaciers to mountainsides, mountainsides to ravines, etc. The game isn't shy about where its taking you and every map is detailed from ground up (to 45000 ft...you stall any higher...guess they don't want you going to space...) with trees to volumetric clouds to (my favorite) missile clouds and contrails. You can literally carve the sky out with your missiles and blot the skies with FLaK cannon fire and it is truly a beauty to see. From miles away you can see impressive dogfights with their erratic gunfire and missile trails, with wingmen taking key positions and others lining themselves up for a shot, all the while drawing dizzying convolutions as they mix up the sky like a milkshake in a blender. Toss in anti-aircraft fire and an aircraft carrier firing its phalanx's in mesmerizing disarray and you've got one of the most beautiful ocean war theaters taking place on your TV set (HD for me...). There are some qualms I have about the game however, despite how fun the game is. One of the major nicks is my Wingman's inability to hit anything and his unresponsiveness. Of the targets I've assigned to him he's probably hit only 2/6 and if he isn't hitting them he's wasting his cache away for the entirety of the mission trying to. Alliance support sort of feels like cheating as everything is blown out of the sky (mind you: if you've completed certain and specific mission objectives to earn you allied support) but when you do need it (for a specific mission) they'll just shoot an impressive blind volley over and over without even considering which angles to attack from that will inflict the proper amount of damage....it almost makes you do those missions by yourself; which I don't object to...I just find the resource in that instance to be a waste. After completing a mission and the game you can always come back and 'Free Mission' it to attack the mission from another angle, earning you medals and unlocking new information about certain squads, which is fun if you're interested in the lore behind AC6, and its replay is definately high with the ability to 'SP Continue' the campaign on a higher difficulty.
...now you're all wondering about Ace Combats NEWEST feature and yes...I've played it. The ONLINE features are definately ROCKING but it could use MORE content. After blasting away through Siege, CO-OP, and Battle Royal I wish they implement MORE to do...such as objectives, or territories...*DOH, I'm talking HALO 3 here...but with a sandbox design as grand as Ace Combat 6 you can dream can't you?
I was able to quickly join games and on my...lacking DSL connection there wasn't a hint of slowdown. CO-OP could use MORE missions because I feel that's the meat of the online experience whilst Siege and Battle Royal are just quick games with one single objective in mind: blow the other guy's stuff up. There's no real coordination with Siege and Battle Royal, so long as you stay out of someone's way you can enjoy yourself. But with CO-OP you're planning out something of a contingency with others and you split the objectives of the mission between each of you, which makes the 'support calling feature' useful in this instance. The ONLY problem I have with online feature is the LACK of SP support...SURE some of the weapons are...what you can say: "Cheating" but hey, you earned it...and certainly paid for your plane, I just don't see the reason why they'd exclude some SP weapons, I certainly deserve the right to use my uber-secret plane and its lopsided-advantageous SP weapons against online fights, right? So what if I can paint an enemy with 12+ missiles...they were asking for it...
For the most part 'balance' seems to be the key component to the online experience so some weapons you thought were extremely cool and DO literally change the tides of war are missing...*sniff...but I never had any problems machine-gunning down people.
The game is certainly fun to play and it'll keep you coming back to replay missions again, its not as strong as a story I'd hope it'd be and I'm certainly sick of 'The Angels' (you'll know what I mean once you've played it). The game is everything you could want out of an arcade fighter jet title and I'm impressed at what the game can do. On that note, yes, I did buy the flight-stick and well...its certainly interesting playing the game with a throttle and joystick, but it certainly takes some getting used to after putting down the controller. When utilizing the flight stick keep it on a level surface and no, in-between your thighs wont work; I tried. Once you put down the 360's controller you have to re-orientate yourself to the button set up and remember that the throttle moves...and when pushed forward makes you go faster *slaps forehead*. It takes a little more precision to use the flight stick but its certainly rewarding when you master the setup, my only problem was the joystick doesn't "yaw" and you have to use the throttle setup to yaw to the aircraft. Oh, and yes, it rumbles!
As I bring and end to the review I will mention that it is worth renting, for those who've never played the series, and I would recommend it to friends who are more inclined to play games on the HALO/ GEARS setup. It was definately worth the wait, with a few blunders, the game does soar to new heights. Go dance with the Angels!