Review by Colmbian

Reviewed: 05/30/02 | Updated: 05/30/02

SPAM-TASTIC!

I am a loyal fan of the Namco franchise, so when this game came out within the first week it was in my grubby little hands. And because I had played over and over again the previous Ace Combat titles, I was expecting to be a little bit disappointed, especially since I was getting the American version, where there is NO branching points or any such thing as other reviewers have mentioned. But nonetheless, I was thrilled with this game.

GAMEPLAY? CONTROLS: Almost impeccable. A warning: You NEED a Dual Shock for this game. It is just too much of a pain in the butt (not to mention your thumb) to keep pushing hard on that annoying little D-Pad for this game. I tried it, it was just too uncomfortable. And flying with the Analog sticks is the best way to go, but it's not without its flaws itself. For some reason, I find it really difficult to pull up and to the side at the same time. The plane's movement just slows down and it takes longer than I expected to circle around to face the other direction.
The advanced flying tactics are very useful and are easy to pull off with some practice, and that combined with the right analog's camera views make for some spectacular flight scenes. The instant replay feature to fuzz the screen in a movie-like manner is pretty cool, too.
Fighting is not hindered much because of gameplay or controls. Locking onto different targets is a breeze, ground or air, mobile or stationary. Missile firing is dead-on, and the machine gun can be used to deal some extra damage, but in almost every mission the gun isn't needed.

About the missions themselves, the variety makes for some special thrills not experienced anywhere else. The mid-air refueling, landing, take-off, entering the ATMOSPHERE FROM OUTER SPACE, flying just a few shirt miles from the EDGE of the atmosphere, flying in a TUNNEL that allows for about 2 INCHES of space to fly around in....amazing. In fact, if there had been MORE of these types of missions I'm sure the game would've received slightly higher reviews from gamers and game magazines alike.

The planes are fun to fly, and trying to beat the mission with a high rank to get even more fun planes makes for great fun. Although, once you get past the second wave of missions, and fly in less specialized missions, you'll soon have a favorite among the rest. They all have a different feel to them, different speed, different flight capabilities, etc.

GRAPHICS: Whoa, was I taken back when I first saw the sun glare, the missile trail...even better, when I saw my first bogey blown to bits while using the camera control right analog stick. Holy S***, man. Flying in night-time is very fun, and ''instrument flying'' gives a new experience in an already solid flying game. The planes look amazing, as do the enemy bogies. All the craft looks as good as can be on a PSOne. The scenery is pretty, but you'll probably be too busy busting some 4 or 5 bogies out of the sky.

SOUND: The afterburner powering up with that high-pitched ''whirrrr'' sound is so cool, you'll want to hit full throttle just to hear it. The missiles firing sounds about as real as I can think of, seeing as how I've never fired a missile from an aircraft before in my life. the tires screeching when landing is dead on. All of it sounds really great.

MORE ON GAMEPLAY: I don't know. Before I wrote this review, I read some others' reviews on this game. At least one of them said that if you don't know how to fly right, expect to be blown out of the sky. I don't know about you, or the guy that kept getting ''blown out of the sky'' but, while I was playing, my armor level hardly ever went down to the red zone by enemy bogies. The only time I'd fail a mission because of a blown plane was because i would hot-dog it and crash into a mountain while barrel rolling, or shooting to the sea surface at Mach 2, hitting the brakes as hard as I can, and pull up only to smash into the sea.
The enemies just either never caught up to me, or I maybe the other review contributors played this game on HARD mode, because I've only tried this game on NORMAL. Maybe that's why....you'll find out.

REPLAY: there are a few unlockables, like more planes and extra missions, and they take a lot of nice flying to get them. Do not over-estimate your skills as a pilot if you ever try and accomplish this...it is VERY difficult. The only frustrating thing on this is that, on some missions you'll get an easy top-ranking, but in another mission you might get one of the lowest rankings in the game. You just have to keep trying new different flying tactics in flying and dogfighting and you'll eventually come upon a run that earns you an ''A.''

GAMEPLAY: 9
CONTROLS: 8
SOUND: 9
GRAPHICS: 10
REPLAY: 7

Overall, a real keeper. Go and get this game, whether you're an aviation nut or not.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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