During a recent interview with a Capcom producer, a colleague asked this question: "Apart from your own - of course - what's your favourite game?" The somewhat surprising answer was Ace Combat on the PS2. Although it's pushing it to bonkers levels to say that the series is the finest PS2 has to offer, Ace Combat has consistently led the way in console dogfighters and its first sortie onto PSP manages to maintain those sky-high standards.
Developed exclusively for the handheld rather being nothing more than a lazy port of the latest PS2 offering, The Belkan War, ACX offers an all-new storyline and set of scenarios, sharp-as-a-tail-fin graphics and a stripped-down control system that's instantly accessible and highly effective, with thrust mapped to the shoulder buttons, weapons to the face buttons and the analogue stick is used for slinging your ride through the ether. D-pad activated Wingman controls are absent, though
As ever, Campaign mode is the main occupation for the single player, which starts off being relatively straightforward and fairly easy, but soon becomes more complex as the new Strategic Artificial Intelligence System kicks in after the first couple of levels. Say what? Basically, it's a clever way of breaking up the inherently linear nature of the game. Decisions you make during a mission will affect the nature of following missions. For example, should you decide to go after enemy ground forces instead of knocking out supply planes or bombers that are trying to scramble from an airbase, those planes will come back an bite you on your six at a later time. And vice versa. It certainly lends replay value to the Campaign.
BOGIE ON DOWN
There are 30 licensed aircraft to strap to your back and it's the usual line up of US and Ruskie fighters with the odd European machine such as the Typhoon and Tornado thrown into the mix. The F-22 Raptor, the up-and-coming replacement for the F-14 Tomcat, is perhaps the highlight but all the plane models look damn fine, especially in replay mode. Likewise, all the ordnance is 'real-world' and you as you progress you'll unlock new weapons and parts with which to, er, pimp your plane.
While it's a decent single-player game, It's not massively different to previous games, so it's the multi-player side of things that make this a worthwhile purchase. There are five different modes for up to four people to partake in, some co-op, others deathmatches. There's a standard nose-to-nose dogfight, you can test your flying skills with Air Superiority, Base Battle tasks you with taking out opposition bases before they hit yours and there are protective Escort missions too. It's a very decent mix with refreshing variety. All in all, then, a treat for flyboy fans and a shining example of how to take a console-based series to PSP.
Plenty similar to recent PS2 efforts but Xs multi-player side helps elevate it to well worth a play status.
- Bogies by the dozen
- Eye-pleasing scenery
- Ace multi-player mode
- Annoying flyboy banter