Ace Combat 3
Ace Combat (known as Air Combat in the U.S.) is making its third pass through Japanese PlayStation skies, and the jet fightings as crisp as ever. However, there's also a lot of politics crowding the screen, which sometimes bogs down this supersonic flight.
This time around, you're sort of a high-altitude policeman whose task is to battle the evil forces of General Resource, a money-grubbing mega-corporation that dominates the Ace Combat world. Ace puts you at the controls of a formidable squadron of aircraft As in all AC games, you fly with familiar behind-the-jet or inside-the-cockpit views, and the easy-to-read radar and slick heads-up display enable you to track bogies until you're within range to launch missiles.
Early on. most targets are easy pickings, but later, air and ground missiles thwart your attacks, often sending you down in flames. Luckily. Aces solid controls enable you to turn and burn.
No Time for Talk
Ace Combats a visual tour de force with nicely tuned audio--but sometimes that's a problem. The gameplay graphics and views are excellent, but to get to the action, you plod through a dizzying multimedia news-feed (similar to Soviet Strike) that updates the ever-changing political climate. This being the Japanese version, it's maddeningly long.
When you get to the actual combat. Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere is aces all the way. There's probably a complex and compelling story line here, too--hopefully the English-language version (due here in early 2000) will make it a plus, not a minus.
- You can outrun missiles. Hit afterburners, watch your radar, and veer sharply away.
- Zero in on airborne targets. Identify them, and when you hear the target-lock tone, hit the afterburners and fire.
- You're the fastest thing in the skies; don't overshoot your target on the first pass.
- The high-altitude Blackbird does not function well below the stratosphere. Stay in dark blue skies and avoid cloud cover.
Download Ace Combat 3
No doubt about it: The third Ace Combat game is easily the most visually thrilling flight title on the PlayStation. From the detailed cities to the wavy glint cast by the sun and moon on the sea streaking below, the wild blue yonder's wonders have never looked more realistic. It's just a shame the rest of the game feels like a step backward for the series. Namco's cut-rate translation is the main culprit here. The Japanese version is a two-disc game rich with ancillary characters, slick FMV and a gripping plot. That's all been gutted from the U.S. release. Instead, we're only treated to occasional pages of text that flash on the screen and condense the complex plot into a barely coherent Cliffs Notes version. Instead of the first-class experience of the Japanese original, we're stuck with a fun but no-frills flight. You do get a lot of missions--35 in all. They just don't deliver the white-knuckle ride of Ace Combat 2. Play this game on the hardest setting, because normal mode is too easy. Bogies rarely shoot back, and splashing them is never a problem. You'll encounter some novel scenarios. One mission, set in orbit, has you darting about in a laser-equipped shuttle. You'll careen through the core of an underground city. You even get to land or refuel in midair once in a while. Nevertheless, AC3 is a disappointment.
Since I'm a newcomer to the Ace Combat series I'll keep this review simple. Things I like: The sharp, highly detailed graphics. Easy-to-control aircraft with intuitive controls and decent arcade/sim balance. Graphic explosions that look and feel satisfying. And finally, the fact that you can belly-scrape the ground without crashing. Bad things: The story line is contrived and somewhat confusing. I wish you could destroy more structures on the ground.
This would be far more worthwhile if it was a bit more challenging. It looks fantastic, boasts a lot of good stuff to keep you excited, but if you're a halfway competent game player you'll whiz through it in no time. Certainly more imaginative than previous Ace Combats, it tries very hard to blend the "cool" bits from PC sims with arcade-game sensibilities. Things like the padlock view make a big difference to the feel of the game. Something to rent.
Visually, AC3 gets incredibly high marks. It's easily the best-looking game in the series. But as we all know, fancy graphics only go so far. Enemies aren't near aggressive enough, making the game's 30+ missions much easier than I'd like. Plus there just isn't much to the story...in fact, there isn't really a coherent story at all. Missions (though interesting and mostly fun) just kind of come along. You finish one, and then move onto the next, etc.
It took a little longer than expected, but Namco has finally announced a U.S. release for the third chapter of the hugely popular fighter plane series Ace Combat.
Namco has made a few drastic changes in this latest installment. First, instead of waging war against the country of "Generica" in Ace Combat 2, a complex story line is introduced to provide more of a reason behind the fighting. The plot is revealed through a series of pre-mission news broadcasts, ingame segues during missions and anime-style cutscenes after various stages are completed. Unfortunately for U.S. gamers, Namco has decided to scale back the amount of full-motion video, voices and cutscenes from the Japanese release.
This move is surprising, considering the mature PlayStation demographic and the increased acceptance of story-driven titles (RPGs, adventure, etc). It also begs the question "Why is it taking so long to translate?" (The Japanese version was released back in May.) Another thing fans will notice is that the style of Ace Combat 3 is decidedly more futuristic. The standard aircraft like the F-15, F-16 and F-22 are again represented, but as the game progresses, you'll be thrust into the cockpit of some of the coolest fighters ever to be mistaken for UFOs in the Nevada desert. The game's front-end takes on the facade of a computer interface, incorporating "streaming" news broadcasts and map "downloads."
Aside from the new style, the gameplay remains basically the same--Ace Combat 2 fans should feel right at home. The mission structure consists of eliminating your primary targets, while either avoiding secondary targets or destroying them for bonus points (and showing off to your wingmen). But instead of accumulating points to purchase new aircraft-there are only certain aircraft available for each mission--your performance is judged by a letter grade. Just like Ace Combat 2, at various points in the game you can choose between two missions. This decision will obviously have an effect on the story and ending sequence.
It will be interesting to see just how much of the story will be cut, but regardless, fighter-pilot wannabes should be more than impressed with Ace Combat 3 when it arrives this February.