Review by KasketDarkfyre

Reviewed: 01/09/01 | Updated: 12/06/01

Sequels are good...sometimes.

The Ace Combat series took the Play Station by storm, with several instances of exciting and well-created game play that featured you as a fighter pilot that is out to save the world from a terrorist plot. While the plot of the game and the story is so used, it reeks of dust; the game itself is something that is worthy of playing, even if you’re not a simulation fan! Now, to call it a simulation would be wrong, because it falls on a line that isn’t simulation or a true action game, but rather a hybrid combination of the two that brings plenty of thrills to the gamer and will satisfy anyone who enjoys this style of gaming. With eye-popping visuals and decent sound, you’ll have no problem immersing yourself into the world of Ace Combat by getting used to the control and screaming through the various missions that you’ll encounter throughout the game!

This time around, you're fighting against a corporation through the air as a police officer looking to bring down some mega-money business. Giving you control of a powerful plane, you're pitted in the middle of more dog-fighting with more than just one enemy. The computer AI hasn't been toned down for this sequel so be prepared to put all of your previous skills to the test. If you've never played Air Combat games, then be prepared to learn just what your jet can do and in a short amount of time, or you'll be blasted out of the sky! The replay value, yet again, is very low here. Once you've made it through the game once or twice, the only reason to continue playing a game such as this, is to get through it with a heavier accuracy total, and without getting blasting out of the sky. There isn't a two-player option here, so you're left with a solo mission yet again. One of the best features they could have offered, would have been some two-player action, but you're still left with some pretty good game play. What would have been nice is to have a little two-player action that could have created more game play and some higher replay value, but when you think about it, it probably was a better idea to let your hero go solo throughout. Veterans to the game will probably find this game to be a more challenging version of the former games, although gamers who are new to the series will find some steep challenge and a huge learning curve!

Following the premise of giving an easy to use control to the beginning gamer, you're left with a simple button set up that is easy to cycle through, and a plane that moves where, and when you want it to move. The response time is great this time around, but you may be wishing for some different varieties in what all of the buttons do. Again, not a bad job but could have been improved upon. Veterans will find that performing some of the real life tactics that jet pilots do in actual battle can be done easily enough as long as you have knowledge of how the action is performed! The only thing that you’ll be missing, as with most jet fighter games is the feeling of G-Force, but in this day and age, it is impossible to really get the feeling of it without being connected to an exceptionally are machine that offers 360 directional movement.

What will truly catch your eye from the start of the game will be the detail placed on the areas that you're piloting through. Life-like, realistic backgrounds will make you blink at first, and the awesome looking heads up display and perspectives will have you watching. However, after the shine has worn off, you're looking at the same game, with some visual improvements that don't really take it above the second Air Combat! You’ll also find that the game has some interesting points to prove with some of the mid-air explosions and otherwise that come about from performing the correct maneuvers in the air. Some of the best visuals that I’ve seen, is when you’re going on a strafing run through a canyon, and you end up blowing up several different targets, with the explosions looking more real to life than a Top Gun flick. All of this shows that the Play Station is capable for producing good looking games without sacrificing too much in the process!

Again, the music and sound are placed and done well enough, but they fade into the background with nothing notable. While playing, don't expect an exceptional orchestra of music, because you won't find it. After a few minutes of playing, and hearing the same looping track, which doesn't do a bad job, you'll be longing for something with a little more beat and guitar to it. Not a bad job mind you, but it could have used some work. The more impressive audio scores are located in the later stages of the game, and can really set the pace and mood of the title without giving too much away to overbearing audio and interrupting the game like some action games do. The sound effects sound good, but the explosions that you’ll hear throughout the game are something that you really have to hear through a stereo system in order to get the real feeling of actually being in the middle of a fighter jet dog fight!

While not an improvement over the second Air Combat, AC 3 is definitely a welcomed addition to the PSX library. Offering you some hair-raising missions, pretty intense air battles, and overall solid gameplay, you're left with a game that isn't a bad purchase idea. The visuals and the audio have to be experienced to be appreciated, and even though they aren’t first rate, they do bring the dog fights and the different missions to life! Those looking for a quick fix in the aerial combat simulation ring, would do well to just rent this for the weekend. Everyone else looking for a good aerial simulation, pick this one’s worth every cent.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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