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Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation

After spending the better part of a week describing bits of what makes Ace Combat 6 such an exciting prospect, we feel it's time to share our initial impressions of the almost-complete version Namco provided. This build was about 60% done and needed a little tweaking in the sound and framerate departments, but we're confident the Ace team will have these issues tucked away before the game ships - no other game in the series has gone to stores chuggy or choppy, so we don't expect that to start with Fires of Liberation.

By now you know all about the Dynamic Operation and Allied Support systems, but we're here to tell you how they affect gameplay. Right from the start you're bombarded with bogies, both air and ground. Some kind of skirmish has broken out in a seaside city, and your squadron has to go in and keep the peace. As you and your crew fly in for support, separate forces will clash on the ground, each with their own goals and roles in the battle. So, the moment we saw the "Mission Start" screen, waves of anti-aircraft flak and missiles came blasting from the city. The sheer amount of missile trails alone was enough to make us stop and take notice.

A quick glance around the area with the right analog stick revealed a sickeningly detailed environment, with tufts of clouds floating through the sky and countless vapor trails littering the battlefield. For the first time, it really does seem like there's a war going on, not just an assortment of enemies taking potshots.

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