Bandai Namco’s Ace Combat series stretches back nearly 25 years and for some sim pilots, this was one of the titles that helped get them into more serious combat flight simming. Coming on January 31st, Ace Combat makes a return after a long hiatus to PlayStation 4 (+VR), XBox One, and PC on Steam.
The reviews are in
Reviewers and console gamers are already flying Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown and several reviews are already in with mixed results.
PC Gamer gives Ace Combat 7 a score of 75 praising its action and graphics while expressing reservations about Ace Combat’s story and cut-scenes. IGN similarly remarks on the series excellent graphics and struggles with mission objectives and storyline issues.
Kotaku’s reviewer, Mike Fahey, is far more upbeat and calls the new title a “joy,” going on to say some nice things about the series:
It’s a triumphant return for a series that’s spent a couple of years flying in the wrong direction. Minutes into my first mission, after watching the first of many melodramatic cutscenes, I settled back into my chair and smiled, because this is the stuff right here.Mike Fahey, Kotaku
Reading between the lines and watching YouTube gameplay suggests that if you were a fan of Ace Combat 04, Ace Combat 6, and other entrants in the series then you’ll probably love this one too.
One thing we don’t know is how well this title will play on PC. In the background Ace Combat 7 is flying along using the Unreal engine so one would expect that performance would be good on anything that can make DCS World or IL-2 work.
Other interesting reactions
While writing this article I also came across a very interesting reaction to the reviews of Ace Combat 7 on Forbes. The report references a tweet by Kazutoki Kono, producer for Ace Combat 7, who rightly complains about reviewers not actually flying Ace Combat 7 using the realistic flight controls (opting for the simplified mode they offer to help get players started) and therefore not having the full experience.
This is, of course, a reminder to those of us who are interested in more serious flight simulations too. We are far and away from the standard game reviewer or game player. Getting DCS World or IL-2 in front of your average game reviewer tends to result in the same kind of difficulty that Ace Combat 7 has had except on a more extreme level.
This is all not necessarily a bad thing. We know that combat flight simulation is a niche interest but I think that concept is reinforced when a title like Ace Combat 7, which we all consider to be fairly simplistic and arcadey, experiences challenges with people reviewing the game in the first place.
On to the cool stuff
For 25 years Ace Combat has had exploding jets, great graphics (for the time), and some fun gameplay. You can now watch a play through of the entire game if you want thanks to YouTuber Zaptroxix. This gameplay, differs from some of what we’ve watched previously, as Zaptroxix is clearly a fan of the series and knows how to play the game…on Hard mode no-less.
The series has also had a brilliant music score that has produced some memorable pieces including Zero (from Ace Combat Zero), Liberation of Gracemeria (Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation), and Dogfight (Ace Combat: Assault Horizon).
Tracks from the Ace Combat series have made their way into more than one DCS World related video over the years, such is the connection between Keiki Kobayashi’s music and jet fighters.
A long awaited return
Ace Combat had a great run in the 1990s on Play Station and a single outing on XBox 360 in 2007 with Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. The follow up Ace Combat: Assault Horizon was a bit of a disappointment for long term fans and one that never really caught on with the more casual crowd.
For those a little jaded by the Assault Horizon experience, it does look like Ace Combat 7 is a return to the same kind of fast paced, high octane, free flying experience that older titles had but with the latest graphics.
Ace Combat 7 is already available on PlayStation 4 and XBoxOne and is coming to PC on the Steam Store on January 31st.
As for myself, I will be keeping an eye on a good sale price down the road on this title (having blown my budget on the DCS: F-14 and holding a few dollars in reserve for RAZBAM’s MiG-19) as flying the next generation of Ace Combat games is something I very much want to do.
For all of those Ace Combat fans out there who may have stumbled on this piece, if you feel like trying something with more extreme realism or want to dip your toes into the next level… DCS World and IL-2: Great Battles Series beckon and I’m here to help you get started if you do.