Ace Combat 5: The Unsung Hero
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung Hero is a return to the fantastic flight simulator brought to the Playstation 2 by Namco. This latest version is a continuation of Ace Combat 4, relying on that game's high-grade graphics and slick mechanics, but not really offering much more than its predecessor.
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung Hero takes place in a near future world of secret wars and constant conflict with a mysterious enemy. The unfolding, and sometimes unraveling, plot in the game is one of Ace Combat 5's strongest elements, offering up a story that makes you want to play through the game to see what happens.
While Ace Combat 5: The Unsung Hero is one of the graphically strongest flight simulators on the market and its flight mechanics push the envelope for console flight sims, it still leaves a lot to be desired in sheer gaming fun. I had a blast tooling around in the game's highly realistic fighters, but shooting down enemies, the chief component of this game, was either far too easy or far too difficult. If you use missiles, which you plane typically carries a ridiculously high number of (50), then you just lock-on, fire off two quick salvos, and more often then not you've just downed a plane. If you try relying on your machine gun, you have to be so close and track so carefully, that it's nearly impossible to shoot down a healthy enemy with it. Instead you end up using the machine guns to down planes already injured from a missile hit. It's too bad that this issue exists in fighting other planes, because the flying part of the game is a well-tooled, cleanly presented masterpiece that goes far to prove that flight sims are not just for computers.
The graphics are superb, probably the best I've seen on the Playstation 2, with meticulous detail paid to the clouds, backgrounds and other planes. The audio is just one step shy of the graphics, with satisfying engine and weapon noises that really throw you into the action.
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung Hero also has pretty good artificial intelligence; the enemy planes don't just stay their course, they will try and shake you, get behind you and even manage to occasionally avoid your missiles. This latest Ace Combat adds a new feature that allows you to give quick orders to your wingmen with a push of the D-pad.
Overall this is a fun, realistic, though a bit-stripped down flight simulator. The game would have scored much higher had it managed to better balance its weapons' issues, but it's still worth buying if you are into flight simulators and don't want to mess around with a computer game.