Ace Combat 5

June 30, 2005

[floatleft][/floatleft]If you have ever played an [i]Ace Combat[/i] game, you should already know what to expect from [i]Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War[/i]. It’s a good simulation-looking flight game with an arcade feel. On top of that, it has absolutely stunning graphics and an interesting storyline.

[i]Ace Combat 5[/i] takes place in an alternate reality, similar to our near future. There is a war brewing between two rival nations. You are Blaze, a rookie pilot who soon becomes the leader of one of the most decorated squadrons in the conflict. The reason behind the war and Blaze’s relationship with his fellow pilots unfold in the heat of battle and in the beautifully crafted cinematics between missions. This actually can make the story hard to follow. The radio chitchat in missions can be both helpful and extremely annoying. A lot of it tells parts of the story, but at inappropriate times. When I am making a bombing run on a heavily fortified complex with projectiles and explosions all around me, I’m not in the mood to hear about how beautiful the bird of peace is. The scripted chatter can also be somewhat confusing. After you have destroyed the enemies in the area, it is weird to hear allies complaining about enemy fire and being shot down. The cut scenes, however, are mostly interesting and worth a watch.

[floatright][/floatright]The gameplay itself should not disappoint fans of the series. The attention to detail might be intimidating when watching the gameplay, but the game itself is very easy to pick up and play. And if you are nervous about jumping into a mission right away, there is an optional multi-step tutorial mode, which is quite helpful. Like other [i]Ace Combat[/i] games, the core concepts are dogfighting and ground assaults. With the large quantity of heat-seeking rockets each plane carries, most dogfights require you to get behind an enemy, fire off two missiles, and let them do the work. A few missions are actually easier if you conserve ammo, but if you can get into range, enemies aren’t entirely difficult to destroy with your machine gun. Mission objectives aren’t extremely exciting. You have the traditional escort, base assault, base defense, and intercept missions. Then there are the attacks against large enemy vehicles, which strikingly resemble boss fights.

The most innovate gameplay feature in [i]Ace Combat 5[/i] is the implementation of wingmen. Unfortunately, it is a mixed blessing. Your three wingmen add a touch of depth to the story. They are with you in the heat of combat, and their radio chatter does a good job of portraying their personalities. Too bad their personalities are clichA