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Ace Combat 6 - updated impressions

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Being the ardent Ace Combat fans that we are, we've covered the living daylights out of this 360-exclusive, and did it months ago. Didn't catch our massive Week of War? Now's the time to get totally caught up with interviews, retrospectives, the first hands-on and plenty of eye-popping screens. But wait - there's even more today.

Our latest hands-on revealed very little in the way of new info or features that we haven't already discussed, but it did run much, much smoother than before. In fact, Fires of Liberation seems to be soaring along as cleanly as its PS2 predecessors - that means everything will blow up real nice without a trace of choppy skies.

The only thing totally new was the sortie we flew - it appeared to be the very first mission of the game, as it begins with an unseen enemy trashing a major bridge and a subsequent missile barrage that rids the city of friendly forces. After we shot down the first wave of enemies (using both our F-16 and seaborne allies), a group of black and red jets came in to finish us off. Before they arrived, however, a far-off supercarrier delivered a constant payload of Nimbus missiles.



Now, these missiles didn't just hit their targets and disappear - they blasted mid-air, creating multiple areas of hazardous explosives that enveloped any jet unlucky enough to soar by. The sections of unfriendly sky appear on the radar as bright red splotches, but there are so many that avoiding them and tracking down the enemy pilots was one tough task.

Even after bagging the rival pilots we were ordered to high-tail it out of town, as the missile strikes were getting worse. Judging from this intense opening, the rest of the game will revolve around reclaiming your home city. Not bad for a first level, not bad at all. Plus, the insane graphics and thunderous sound make it all come to life like no other Ace before. It's really going to please fans of the series and hopefully attract some new ones.

Another quick piece of news - there's going to be a HORI flight stick for 360, designed just for Ace Combat 6. It'll be available as part of a $150 bundle that also comes with an exclusive Ace faceplate. No word on if the ACE-EDGE Flightstick will be available separately, though anyone interested in buying it obviously wants Ace 6 too. It's a good time to be Ace fan, no?

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