You can always rely on Ace Combat to bring a dose of melodrama to the war-torn skies of fictional states. Except it’s been four long years since the last instalment in the series – and even that was a shoddy free-to-play version for the PlayStation 3. No, you have to go back as far as 2011 for the last Ace Combat proper: the divisive Assault Horizon, a game which generally split the opinion of fans, but made this wannabe Tom Cruise grin over the course of its campaign.
Now it’s back in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, and it’s just as cheesy as you remember. The storyline is set in 2019 during the Second Usean Continental War, and you play a character called ‘Trigger’ who’s accused of the murder of a former president. The plot device is that you end up being a member of a penal military unit, which means you’re considered disposable by the government and sent on suicide missions, effectively as decoys. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds, but the title never takes itself seriously.
Of course the flight combat itself is as rock solid as you’d expect. We got to play a mission early on in the game, which sees you attempting to clear out the anti-air units of an enemy encampment. You’re there to thin out any resistance so that the “real” military can approach unobstructed, and that means you can just go to town raining fire down on the units on the ground. The controls are arcade-like and approachable, but nailing bombing runs does take a little bit of practice.
Bandai Namco isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel here. Visually it’s a huge step forward from previous instalments, with fancy cloud technology bringing depth to the skyboxes seldom seen before. The aircraft models are good, although the PS4 Pro build we played had some aliasing issues which detracted from the look of the planes themselves. It’s by far the most impressive looking flight combat game on the console – but it doesn’t have much competition in that department.
Of course, it’s the PlayStation VR mode that most will be interested in learning about, but it wasn’t available in our hands on. While this won’t expand to the entire campaign, developer Project ACES has created a separate mode for Sony’s headset. As such, we came away impressed with Ace Combat 7, but on a standard screen it’s still very much what you expect. If you’re in the market for more melodramatic dog fighting, then happy days – this delivers in spades.
Are you looking forward to getting your mitts on Ace Combat 7’s flight stick? Will you be flying this one at launch, or taking a delayed journey? Soar into the comments section below.