Joint Assault also brings over the online versus modes found in Ace X, most of which are variations on classic themes. Free for all, territories, capture the flag, team battle and so on are all there, with new planes, special weapons and extra parts for fine-tuning your craft unlocked by completing the main campaign on various difficulty settings. They’re all fairly fun with a group of buddies (and feature music from past games), but the cramping controls and fact that higher-level jets make beginners seem like sitting ducks kept us from really digging the online multiplayer.
Above: Play more campaign to unlock the best jets, at which point you will dominate the versus modes
Finally, one of the game’s biggest selling points is the “real world” location, which replaces the series’ almost-but-not-quite-real setting. You’ll fly over vague renditions of Egypt, London, Tokyo, Lake Tahoe (??) and finally San Francisco, though most of them are, as you’d expect, kind of flat and meant to be only briefly seen as you fly by at 500 miles per hour. It’s a nice touch, though one we assume will be better realized in Assault Horizon. Hopefully it will also use this setting to create a story cooler than worldwide insurance fraud. Yes, Joint Assault features a riveting story about insurance fraud.
Above: San Francisco received the most attention, probably because that’s where GamesRadar lives
Had Joint Assault been released on PS3, 360 or even PS2 with all these features intact, it would have been a good, if derivative game. On PSP, it’s a good game marred by control problems and real world visuals that are limited by the hardware. Also consider the music, which fails to stick with one style, bouncing from rock to ballads to Eastern ambience to full-blown orchestra. Even the decent stuff seems out of place when it's surrounded by so many conflicting sounds.
tl;dr version: multiplayer-heavy Ace Combat that has a few cool ideas lost in an otherwise run of the mill outing. Sets the stage for Assault Horizon to borrow what works (real world setting, co-op campaign, reactive multiplayer missions) and do it with a bit more flair and polish.
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