Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception (PSP - 2006)
Take control of the skies
If Ace Zero was too much too soon, then what is there to make of this one, released mere months later? It gets points for being the first true Ace on a handheld, and it brings in new areas of the map for the storyline buffs, but the moderate additions don't affect much of the gameplay. A tactical map livens things up though, providing more ways to get to the end of this rather short mission set. As with most of the games, you can play through again to see different paths, and a few hidden bonuses make for great shout-outs to eagle-eyed fans.
The biggest feature here was ad-hoc multiplayer, the first time more than two at a time could blast each other out of the sky. But it was local only, meaning you had to get four friends with copies of their own to all sit down in the same place. Bluh. That's where Fires of Liberation comes in, with its Xbox Live support.
Some of the planes in Ace X have upgradeable parts, so there's a little bit of extra play if you travel down that road. Still, we thrashed the whole game in two hours without buying a single part, so it would seem tweaking your plane is more of a cosmetic fling than a necessity.
Most definitely the multiplayer. The solo game plays just like all the others, minus a second analog stick, so the only innovation you'll find is in a four way deathmatch. That said, the secret battle against Ace Combat 2 vet Scarface is a shocking fanboy moment of joy.
For more Ace Combat coverage, hit up our launch center.