Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War

-Namco (2004)

 

 

Summary

A war born from the past can only be ended by the Demons of Razgriz.

My Thoughts

Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War is almost like an epic movie or miniseries. I swear you must spend almost as much time watching cinemas as you do playing the game - which is good. The story in Ace Combat 5 is the best of the series yet. If any Ace Combat needed to be made into a movie or television mini series, this one is it.

Ace Combat 4's move to the PS2 added a realism not seen in the series before. The 5th installment looks similar to number 4, but it's the story gives Ace Combat 5 an even greater realism than its predecessors as it plays such an integral role in the game. The story takes place in a parallel near-future. A war is occurring between the two countries of Osea and Yuktobania. Throughout the game's 27+ missions everything regarding the war, the politics of the war, and the people involved will be revealed. The story is very well done and some of the twists that happened nearly blew my mind.

Much of the plot will actually unfold as you are playing. You will receive communications and hear others in the middle of dogfights. Text of what everyone is saying comes on the screen, but when youíre doing a barrel roll through a canyon trying to avoid two missiles on your six, itís difficult move your eyes up to read. This makes your speakers and your ears paramount tools. The story revelations during missions could be annoying for some, but war waits on no man to land and sit around on his cozy bunk.

One thing that I loved about Ace Combat 5 was the recognition the playerís character gets for being an ace pilot. The playerís character, with the call sign Blaze, and his wingmen become such equally revered and feared pilots. In a few missions the enemy will actually be scared out of their minds just because they know that your squadron is in the sky.

Although the missions mostly fall into two main categories (destroying a certain enemy vehicles or installations or protecting your own) the missions are greatly varied. There are many different locations, types of skies, and places the player must fly into. There are some battles that are super rockin' awesome and youíll want to play them again because of it. There are a couple missions where you donít even get to fire a single shot. How does that work? Well, if I said anymore it would spoil parts of the story. Some missions are broken up into several parts, making them last much longer than you anticipate.

A small number of missions actually have two versions of itself. It all depends on what your choice or response to certain comment is. You are limited to only "Yes" and "No" responses, but clicking no may have you flying a different sortie for the next mission. In addition to "Yes" and "No" are wingman commands; something new to the Ace Combat series. Players can now issue limited commands using the D-pad. Wingmen can be ordered cover, disperse, attack, and use special weapons. It certainly isn't a perfect system. Sometimes it seems the commands don't register, but when they do, the wingmen do a decent job in engaging enemies and youíll see them take down planes here and there.

Before most missions you will also need to tell your wingmen what planes they will be flying. They will even voice their opinion if they think the formation you have chosen is not well-suited for the mission ahead. They also each have their own personalities which is evident in their radio chatter. The wingmen and other characters in the story are all brought to life with some usually excellent voice-acting. You may even recognize some of the voices from various animated series. The music is also well done and orchestrated. It always matches the action and sometimes gives you the feeling that Ace Combat 5 is the most epic flight story told.

All the jets in the game are licensed real-world machines. Throughout the course of the game, completing certain objectives, and achieving high rankings on missions, over fifty planes wil be able to be purchased. The jets follow the Ace Combat arcade-sim style and have forty or more missiles and a special weapon readily equipped. The jets hold much more firepower than a real jet, but the ammo is finite.

The jets are easily the best looking things in the game with a photo-realistic look. The rest of the visuals do not disappoint, either. The varied locales all have a realistic look and feel about them. Even the ground terrain looks good close-up - as long as youíre not crashing. I do feel that the explosions could have used a little more work as they donít appear quite as good as I had hoped.

When you finish the story, or just want to battle a force of enemy fighters, there is arcade mode. This basically takes away the story and focuses only on fighting a constant barrage of enemies if you want to up your flight skills. Since I've been playing the Ace Combat series for a long time, I know the controls by heart and can maneuver the jets with little difficulty. I'm sure newer players will be able to get a handle on the arcade-sim controls and become ace pilots in no time.

Almost like a Metal Gear Solid title, Ace Combat 5 is somewhat more of a cinematic experience and one that is well worth playing.

Score: 8.5 

-Shawn       

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