Kick the Tires
Over a decade ago Namco introduced us to an arcade flight game that, up until then, had been filled with either realistic simulators or ventures into space. Today, over seven games later there has yet to be a proper competitor for the title of best console flight sim. But will the series, now itís passed to the Xbox360, set itself as a benchmark for all other flight sim titles to come in the future?
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation is set within the same world as all the games that have been released since Ace Combat 4, only on a different part. Sixteen years after the Ulysses 1994 XF-04 asteroid broke up and crashed to Earth the nation of Estovakia invades its peaceful and prosperous neighbor Emmeria, attacking its capital Gracemeria. You play as Garuda One, call-sign Talisman, as you battle through a fifteen mission campaign to restore order to Emmeria and drive the Estovakians out of your country. The parallels to the cold war are quite obvious even if you didnít realize that switching the letters around in Estovakia yields the word Soviet.
The story of this game is told through six different characters, ranging from a civilian mother trying to get back to Gracemeria to find her child, to an Estovakian colonel whoís interrogated by Emmerian soldiers, to a rogue tank crew. However, several minute cut scenes between every single mission in the game donít not give you a satisfying conclusion to every story. The only true closure comes to the mother and the colonel, arguably the main characters of the entire drama outside of the action that occurs on the battlefield.
Splash 1, 439 To Go
Ace Combat 6 stays true to its origins, remaining an arcade flight sim. Series veterans will find that the little changes in terms of game play and player abilities made have been for the better. The controls for the game are as solid as ever with almost no notable discrepancies. Players and fans of the series will note that the amount of weapons your plane can hold by standard is greater than what you would expect an entire battalion to have on hand. Ace Combat 6 is the same and so much more, this time giving you almost double the load out of any other game in the series, and with good reason.
The scale of the missions and battles are huge. As such there are tons more enemies to vanquish as you fly over the battlefield, making the size of your load out fitting. To make use of the large size maps Ace Combat 6 utilizes what is called a Dynamic Operation System, spreading out the conflict to six individual battles across the mission. Completing a certain number of operations will result in the completion of a mission. But operations can be failed if you are inattentive so you need to balance yourself out and consider where you should head first. The boss battles are quite epic as well, as you will face off against a gigantic aerial carrier as well as a giant mechanized cannon.
Even with your large load out you will need to rearm yourself in several missions. You can do this if you cross the return line on the map or, should your particular mission have an airfield you need to capture, do a combat landing. The combat landings, unlike return line ones, occur on the map itself as the battle goes on around you. But since you are attempting to land you are very vulnerable to enemy fire so its best to clear out the surrounding airspace before you come in. All in all though the combat landings are a very welcome addition to the series.
Another noteworthy addition to the series is the ability to call in support. Previously in the Ace Combat series, should the enemy be gunning for you, you could only call in your wingman to help out. This is not the case any longer, as players are given the option to call in support from surrounding units to help out whenever you need it with the simple press of a button. Depending on the situation players can call in support from air, land, or even sea units to help level the playing field. The final new addition to the series is ESM, an ability provided by support units like AWACS, which increases the accuracy and maneuverability of your missiles. Something that is really handy when facing off against elite enemy units.
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