When the familiar Project Aces logo splashes on screen, you know you are back in the friendly cockpit of Ace Combat. Like most Ace Combat games that have preceeded it, Ace Combat 7 throws you right into the emergency scramble of jets from an air base. This particular game starts off you in the single seater F-16C Fighting Falcon, however if you preordered the game, you have access to the F-4E Phantom II. Like the preceding Ace Combat games, the range of jets covers different regional jets. Some of the jets included are the F-22 Raptor, F/A-18F Super Hornet, MiG-31B Foxhound, SU-37 Terminator, and the F-14D Tomcat.
From the time the first sortie starts, you will notice the detail that the Project Aces team put into the game. The details on the planes stands out. When in 1st person view, you will be able to see the cockpit as it is in the actual jet, with the exception of anything that is still classified of course. Take the cockpit of the F-14D. The layout of the instrument panels makes you feel like you were in Top Gun. Another great detail was how cloud effects both the enemies missile lock out but also how it effects game play. Clouds at higher altitudes will cause your canopy to ice up and blur your vision. The Project Aces team even made sure the air flows off the wings like it should and makes for some gorgeous in-game shots. The only drawback to the game is that there is no-photo mode and the replay video controls can feel a little constrained at times.
As you would expect, every aircraft has its own specs. Depending on the aircraft, some are more suited for Air-to-Air combat, while others are better at multi-role or Air-to-Ground combat. As with every Ace Combat before it, every plane carries and absurd about of missles, but that is what makes Ace Combat a lot of fun to play. The upgrades and jets are laid out like a skill tree much like you would find in Spider-Man, God of War, and even The Division. Each jet has 3 special weapons to choose from with each of those special weapons having its upside and downside. Another perk is the ability to add upgraded parts to your jet. From parts that add additional power to your guns/missiles to parts that boost maneuverability, there is definitely a configuration that will allow you to have an edge. Once the parts upgrades are unlocked, you will be able to use them on any of the jets you own.
The game consists of a solo campaign, as well as a multiplayer and VR mode. The VR mode is only available on a small amount of missions, however it puts you right into the cockpit. Looking around as though you were sitting behind the flight stick of an F-16 screaming towards the battle adds an additional element to the game. Most accounts are that this mode is extremely natural feeling, even when doing a barrel roll. On the multiplayer side, there are two modes currently: 4 vs 4 Team Deathmatch and 8 players Battle Royale. Team Deathmatch battles are relatively short, clocking in at about 5 min per round. Each player selects their plane, special weapons, plane skin, and call sign. Once in combat, you will have an AWACS officer feeding you some information based on the current state of the score, etc. If you are shot down, you go to a screen that states your aircraft is being repaired. This is similar to the respawn time in Star Wars Battlefront. With Fortnite, has come the Battle Royale craze. Some games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, removed features that have been around for awhile in favor of adding a Battle Royal mode. Ace Combat did not sacrifice features to add in Battle Royale, and it feels naturally suited for the game. With this mode, you truly have to be the best player out of 8 to survive. Much like the other modes in Ace Combat, the action is fast paced and you have to have your head on a swivel to find a wingman that is in trouble or the next target.
Ace Combat has been around for 20 years now and if you have been a veteran of past games, you know what to expect and will love it. For those that are new to the series, don’t be afraid to push the envelope to find the plane that best suites you. Once you find that plane that really fits your style, you feel like you can be up there with the best of the best and make those unfriendly skies friendlier once more.