OK, so, to start off, the other review that was posted here does make some very good and very valid points, even though I do not agree with it in other places. This was the reason why I decided to post a review of my own. In many ways this is a response to the other review.
First of all, like the other reviewer, I am a huge fan of Ace Combat games, started with Ace Combat 2 and I played and 100% pretty much every single one since then (apart from Assault Horizon, which I liked but didn't care much for). I was over the moon to have a new main-series Ace Combat game and pre-ordered the Deluxe edition. In fact, I bought it twice to get all the pre-order bonuses, I was so excited.
Tl;dr, it's a great arcade flying game. I would give it 4/5.
And, well, I was not unhappy with the game but it wasn't as fulfilling as I might have hoped. As a series fan it is in this weird place now where I don't really feel like replaying it again, which is something that really hasn't happened with any other AC title before, with the exception of Assault Horizon and Joint Assault. So why is that you may ask?
Well, I shall explain.
If you are a newcomer to the series you might be surprised to discover that Ace Combat always put an emphasis on the storylines, which were always engaging. Yes, these are very Japanese games and the storylines tended to be super cheesy, but they had interesting characters and kept you invested in them. You cared about the characters and, importantly, you cared about knowing what happens next.
Ace Combat games (with the exception of Assault Horizon, Joint Assault, and Infinity) all take part in a fictional world called the Strangereal, which is basically an alternate Earth with different continents and countries. The countries are loosely based on real-world states and constantly go to war with each other. It has become the running joke among the series regulars that the games all follow the same basic plot - Country A
, which is more militaristic and has red or yellow
as one of its flag colors, attacks Country B
, which is more peaceful, and has blue
as the main color for its flag. Country A uses Some Superweapon(s)
to push Country B back until it only has One Last Island
on which your squadron happens to be. Then Country A launches a Bunch of Bombers
to destroy the One Last Island, which you, the Nameless Ace
, then shoot down, kicking off a Glorious Counter-Attack
that eventually culminates in you destroying Some Superweapon(s), shoot down a Rival Enemy Ace Squadron
, and turning the tide of war, all while showing how in war everyone is a loser at the end of the day. You become a mythical Ace the mere mention of whom puts fear in the hearts of your enemies (your allies meanwhile all but worship the ground you fly over by the end of the game). There are some variations here and there, but the main underlying story is pretty much the same in all Ace Combat games. What makes them great are the characters and their stories
At the same time the games all tell stories of other characters that are parallel to the main plot but are not directly related to it. For example in Ace Combat 4 you had the story of a boy whose parents were killed in the opening hours of the war and who ends up befriending a squadron which is part of the occupying force. In Ace Combat 5 you have the story of a war correspondent who is following your squadron around. In Ace Combat 6 you had the story of a mother who is trying to find her lost daughter in the chaos of the war (as well as at least 2 other ones). The characters all have personalities and you come to know and care about them, if even a little.
Now, going onto this game:
Visuals and sound
There is more to be said of course (for example there's the multiplayer mode), but overall I want to say that this is a great game that I very much enjoyed. Due to its shortcomings (and especially its disappointing story) it is not the best Ace Combat game, but it is certainly a deserving entry, and one that I enjoyed greatly as a long-time fan.