Ace Combat: Joint Assault is the latest entry in a series that has survived a few system generations now, so the gameplay is pretty well-defined at this point. You’re dogfighting over the skies of wherever you happen to be, using the various planes and weapons at your disposal. Unlike previous entries, this one uses real-life locations like London and Tokyo. (No, it doesn’t really matter.)
The options here are basic but myriad: the game defaults to third-person view, but there are first-person and cockpit views available. There are unlockable planes, interchangeable weapons and options to turn the heads-up display on and off.
The campaign is pretty bland. The writing is awful, the voice acting is painful at times and the general plot isn’t really believable as a motivation for war. That said, it’s irrelevant. This game’s about tracking down and shooting planes, and however it wants to frame the reasons behind tracking down and shooting planes is fine.
The real selling point for this game is multiplayer. The entire campaign can be played with three others, and the standalone multiplayer modes are playable with up to eight. (If you’re worried about finding seven friends with PSPs, don’t fret: Joint Assault supports Infrastructure mode as well as Ad-Hoc.)
Joint Assault is a solid installment in the venerable franchise, and will please fans of the previous games. Just don’t fly alone.