ACE COMBAT 7: Skies Unknown Reviews

AuthorReview
Bermuda Polygon
178,288 (108,407)
Bermuda Polygon
TA Score for this game: 4,590
Posted on 14 February 19 at 04:07, Edited on 14 February 19 at 04:13
This review has 7 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
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:

Story:
*** Spoiler - click to reveal ***


Gameplay

*** Spoiler - click to reveal ***


Visuals and sound
*** Spoiler - click to reveal ***


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.
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Hellgate Aeon
355,857 (254,387)
Hellgate Aeon
TA Score for this game: 436
Posted on 19 January 19 at 11:05
This review has 9 positive votes and 28 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
First of it all, since english is not my native language, i apologize for weird grammar.

The last nail in the coffin

Hear me out first. Most of you will think now: 2 stars? But this game is soooo gooooood.
Do you think that? First of it all, i will judge the game by its name. It is an Ace Combat game.
Flight games are one of my favorite genres since 30 years now an obviously there is no way around the Ace Combat franchise when it comes to console gaming. I loved that franchise, i even have the Galm Dog as a tattoo on my chest. Ace Combat 2, the PS2 Trilogy and Ace Combat 6 are games that i still play today. S Ranking in each mission in any games, all medals, all planes? You can bet on it. I even own the PSP just for the 2 AC games and i have that silly GBA Game.

OK, so whats my problem now? Why do i give Ace Combat 7 such a bad rating.

Wow, where do i start? The game is just awful. It is disappointing in any way and it shows that this franchise has faded away. This game is a big collection of wrong decisions. They made one right decision here: go back to the old formula. But man... did they messed up everything else.

Lets take a quick look back. In 2007 we saw the last real Ace Combat game. Ace Combat 6. It is not one of the best games but it delivers even today. Then in 2011 we got that strange game. That wild experiment called Assault Horizon. We know how the fans reacted to that game. Ace Combat lost its magic back then. What most people do forget is, that this wasnt the first questionable game. Joint Assault on the PSP showed the first signs of failure with plain stupid missions and bad game design.
Then we got that nice AC2 remaster on the 3ds and the PS Users got their Pay to Win game called AC Infinity.
But then Ace Combat 7 was announced and how happy were the news that they will go back to the roots. We saw the first demo and, yes, it looked like the good old times. I was confident.
The trailers looked good and it looked like that Project Aces remembered what made the Ace Combat franchise popular.

Now we have the final product in our hands.
I went through the game in a single session. Play time was 10h, Flight time 6,5h.
I started with Hard difficulty (the 3rd one).

SPOILER WARNING
Obviously i will speak about the story and the missions.

The Story, the Characters.
Ace Combat is known for its crazy stories (we dont talk about Assault Horizon here) and this game seemed to deliver the usual plot. The problem is that you just dont care. In every other game you connect to the other people, Shamrock, Pixi, PJ, Wardog SQDR, Heartbreak One, Huckebein, Yellow 13, Ilja Pasternak, Colonel Voychek.... in this game you just dont care. And you couldnt care less. People come, people go, everybody is just 0,5 dimensional. The whole story just dont make any sense. Ace Combat always tells the story between and in the missions. Radio Chatter, Ingame talking. Here you get bombarded during the wildest action. Honestly, i dont had the time to focus on some of the stuff that was going on in some missions. 3-4 people are yelling at you 24/7 while you have to deal with the constant missile barrage raining down on you. Annoying.
Next problem: imagine you write a story and you come up with the crap that is going on in this game. Isnt there any moment in time where you say to yourself: wait a second, this is a stupid plot, this is too annoying and this characters are just dumb? No? They should have. At one point in the game you end up in some kind of B-Company, Suicide Squad, Spare Felon Flight Gang. This people suck. They just suck. Do you know why Jar Jar Binks suck? Because they are just annoying clowns.
Then you become the Leader of a military Squadron... Imagine that.... in ONE Game you fly in 3 Squadrons. Whatever.
At a certain point i just skipped the cutscenes. You think that dance with the angels thing was hilarious? Wait for princess buttercup. Man i even forgot her name. Everybody in this game is just pointless and forgotable.

Ok forget about the story. Ace Combat is about the gameplay. Right? Riiiight?!
Go and let project aces know.
Honestly, the first 2 missions, i was pumped. This game has great handling, awesome dogfights, this wonderful weathersystem and... DRONES!

I ask myself a question here. You have a game. And this game is actually awesome. You can look back to a great franchise, you know that Ace Combat 5 is known as the best Ace Combat game and you just have to improve on that. Bring some innovation, make it a great game. Ace Combat is about the dogfights. At some point there must be a game designer sitting at his desk, thinking: ok, how can i screw that up. How can i destroy the fun and how can i annoy the players?
Boy, he did a great job!

Rule 1: throw drones into the mission at EVERY opportunity. Do you remember the UAVs in Ace Combat 6? Here you go. And now they have machine guns and missiles and they come in the dozens. Now we can stretch the playtime because you need a lot of time dealing with them. They are quick, they shoot at you every few seconds

Rule 2: lower the time limits. Annoy people with that.

Rule 3: hey we got that nice weather system now. Lets abuse it

Rule 4: we need trial and error!

Rule 5: How can we kill the last bit of fun now? Let people ID targets!

Ok so here is the problem with the mission design: they throw drones at you at EVERY opportunity. Half of the game you are fighting this drones. And they are UAVs so no human pilot and thats why they can fly this fantasy maneuvers. They are just there to annoy the crap out of you. You cant even focus on your missions (that are stupid on their own) because ALL THE TIME there are 5 million drones shooting at you 24/7

The time limits are short in this one. Me as a skilled pilot had problems to keep up with the required points at hard mode. Yes, better planes let you go faster BUT all the time you are in a rush. I wanna dogfight, not speed running the game. At some missions you need to be insane fast.

The weather system. What an innovation isnt it? How about... NO? Actually, the influence of weather came up in Ace Combat 2. Weather was always a factor in certain mission. Now they improved it. Lightning strikes, sheerwinds, low visibility in the clouds. BUT OF COURSE... ok not so fast. You know, such features are great if you hit the sweet spot. Not to much of it but make use of it at all. Here, they abuse it in certain mission.
Why not forcing people to fly into a low cloud layer... oh and they dont see what is under the clouds... oh and they must fly so deep. If they crash then? Whatever. WEATHER EFFECTS !!!!11111!!!
of course you have to chase some planes and of course they fly straight into that thunderstorm and of course you have problems there chasing them. And of course there is a time limitd and of course there are drones. Make it as annoying as possible. Who needs fun huh?!
Oh here is a sandstorm. Hunt down trucks in the sandstorm... btw. Here are 20 drones just to annoy you. Have fun.

And then... trial and error. Ok look my friend. Destroy a whole army in a short time span. If you need supplies just fly over the blue line. You know the drill. Ok mission completed, almost out of missiles, low gun ammo.... oh wait. Wait a second. Lets just put 5 enemy aces on your nose. What? Ammo? Naaaaaa... the blue line is gone. Deal with it, heres my middlefinger. Thank you project aces. And thank you for letting me fly trough a tunnel with different tunnels in the tunnel with closing doors and stuff. Hey, no problem, just fly 10 times to learn which doors will close and which not.

The Missions.
Believe me, if you have played ace combat 4,5,0 then you will see nothing new here. Actually, this game takes place where AC2 and 4 happened. You revisit stonehenge and farbanti and that is great. The big problem here is: if you are an Ace Combat veteran... you witness a recycling orgy. You played all of the missions before. Insert random canyon run here but this time with moving spotlights just to piss you of. But wait, i have to correct myself here... it is like all the missions before WITH DRONES. Of course, Ace Combat always repeated the missions but here... dude i could tell you in most of the missions where they stole it. Copy and paste. But now with clouds and drones.
That mission where you have to escort that cargo plane and you have to spot SAM sites... right out of Skies of Deception. Destroy 3 bases including an airfield and a Harrier base to obtain a certain amount on points within a time limit... wait... that was the same in 4!!!!

Back in the days when Ace Combat 5 was released i was already making my jokes. Let me guess. Mission 1: shoot down Bombers, Mission 2: destroy a random base. Fly through a Canyon, Fly through a tunnel, meet a strange super weapon. Like i said, the games delivered always the same package.

Later in the game they apply rule 5. Ok so you got annoyed with endless swarms of drones, the bad weather, the time limits... and you still play the game?! How about that: all targets are yellow now and you have to fly close to them to identify them. And the AAA is shooting at you right before you can tell if enemy or not. BTW! Lets not forget time pressure and DROOOOOOONES hahahahahahahahah funny isnt it? Just in one Mission? Nooooo .

And then... the final mission. Are you kidding me?
ok... lets see... what can we deliver? How about 2 drones? Ok wait the drones are down... plot-twist! This drone is transforming into a better drone... shot it down!!!!!!11111 ok done.... finish. WAIT!!!!! plot-twist: here is another drone because drone you know.... and now you follow that drone into that tunnel and then you have to fight the drone in this small cavern with a small time limit and then you fly out of the space elevator but not just 100 feet, now how about flying 2 minutes straight up avoiding elevators and stuff.....

oh and... imagine playing ace combat 6. ok lets shoot down the heavy command cruiser. Ok it´s done. Later in the game: oh, surprise, another one! Bring it down! Oh it´s going down... no it´s not going down shoot some more and btw here are some drones!!!!!!1111 this is what AC7 delivers. Throwing arsenal birds and drones on you. Would you like to do the same thing twice? No? Do it anyways. How creative.

The Gameplay
here is the part where the game is destroying itself with a big bang.
Raise your hand. Who played Ace Combat X? If yes, then you know how you could bought parts for certain planes to improve their performance. In AC7 you are forced to buy ALL of that crap.
You are now presented with a confusing roster where you have to buy all the planes and weapons and the parts. And dont even think about saving money to buy your favorite plane. NOPE! You must buy in order to unlock other stuff?
Sooooooooo... you wanna buy the F22? Ok honey, buy the f 18/f15/f15e/f35 and 20 perks in order to unlock that plane for you. Wait... what? Yes.
The big problem is, since there are those parts, they under perform the planes to force you to buy and use them. Your missiles reload slooooow but hey, there is the perk to speed that up... great.
Honestly i think that this was supposed to be some loot box drama. Remember when this game was set to be released in the first place.
Same goes for Multiplayer.

Ok we covered that. Now how does the game play? The controls are smooth and spot on. No problems here. Flares are now droped by pressing both sticks. Remember how you just wasted them in Assault Horizon during wild flying? At least they fixed that.
What they dont fixed is the broken lock on system. It would make sense if you lock on the target that is closest to the middle of your HUD. Isnt it? But nooooo. I dont even know how that works. You just cycle trough random targets and that cost you a lot of time sometimes. Imaging now this Arsenal Bird. The Drone Carrier presenting you over 20 Targets on itself together with 100 Drones. So your HUD is full with targets. OK would you be so kindly to shoot at that big propeller now? WHILE BEING ANNOYED BY DRONES!!!!!

Enough with that you got the point.

The Visuals.
The game looks awesome at times and horrible at other moments. The Unreal Engine? For an open world flight game? Does that work? Yes and no. The ground textures look like Playstation 2 some time. Ground structures pop up right in front of you. But anything else just looks awesome.
The Plane models could be better, some look like in Ace Combat 6. Come on guys, it is 2019 now.

The Sound
Great. This is the awesome part of the game.

OK enough rant.
The outcome:
Ace Combat 7 did everything wrong. The problem here is, that it just feels like Ace Combat 4 remastered. Not only because of the location of the game, no, it is the lack of innovation.
But what about the weather effect THAT IS INNOVATION!!!11111. Yes it is. But what about everything else?
Giving your Squadron orders like in 5/0/6? Nope
How about that Knight/Soldier/Mercenary Moral System to give you different playthroughs? Nope
How about that dynamic battlefield with different operations? Nope
What about allied support if the battle gets to heavy? Nope

11 years since AC6 and this is what we finally got. Ok, thats the way it is. Drones. For me, the Ace Combat franchise is done. They lost their magic and i wasted 70 bucks on that game. At least Ace Combat 6 is now available to play on XBOX one. I am glad i didnt wasted more money on that game. I played through it, i uninstalled it right after and sold it. Ac7 is the funeral of a Godlike Franchise from back in the days.
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