The Ace Combat series pretty much embodies the best parts of screaming through the skies at mach speeds and showering targets with body-roasting missiles. Until now, this experience has been limited to single-player or relatively bland, split-screen versus matches. Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception introduces four-player dogfights with dozens of options for customization.
While we've already covered each multiplayer mode, earlier this week we actually spent some time with the Dog Fight, Base Assault and Air Superiority options. Control has been slightly tweaked from the PS2 games to accommodate the PSP's lack of buttons, but in mere moments we were cutting loops and weaving past missiles like it was second nature. The multiplayer maps we soared through felt flatter than the console ones, but with three people hurling missiles at you, that may not matter.
Dog Fight is just what you think - straight up fighting for two to four players. Base Assault put us on opposite sides of a desert map, trying to disarm and then destroy the other players' home base. First you have to knock out the surface-to-air missiles surrounding the base - then find a way to damage the base's core, which is protected on all sides. It's so well protected that you have to score a perfect bomb hit or plunge down on it from above. We tried making a suicide run right into the core, but it didn't take.
Next was Air Superiority, which put us not only against each other, but also a contingent of air and ground targets that aim for anything that moves. To win, we had to beat the other players' scores, either by taking down more targets or knocking the human-controlled planes out of the air.
Sadly, we could only get two players going at once, but we expect four-player multiplayer will only get better. The only hitch we ran across was some chuggy gameplay when we set the number of targets too high - hopefully that gets smoothed out. Can't convincingly pilot a jet if the horizon's a choppy mess.