Similarly half-assed are the controls, which dispense with Ace Combat standards in favor of – ugh – motion controls. You’ll have to swap hands for this one, because the Nunchuk sits in your right and the remote in your left, with the ‘chuk controlling pitch and yaw and the remote functioning as an accelerator with tilting motions. Naturally, it’s rubbish, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find it detects your GameCube or Classic controller so long as it’s plugged in before loading the game, which immediately makes the dumpo controls redundant.
New feature three is the winner of the bunch, though. Every enemy fighter in Innocent Aces appears on your radar with a proximity ring surrounding the craft. Stay on your opponent’s tail for a while, within the ring, and you’ll get the option to essentially auto-kill the craft with an automated sequence of aerobatics activated with a click of the GameCube’s Z trigger. Stay inside for even longer, and the aerobatics get more dramatic and more point-worthy, always setting you up in position right behind the enemy pilot.
Ace Combat veterans might baulk at such a feature, but remember, this is a world where most of the planes resemble WWII fighters more than current-generation aircraft and you’re not going to be flinging homing missiles around like Cold War combatants. The – ugh – ‘Tactical Maneuver Command’ system puts the emphasis on sticking close to the enemy and engaging from terrifyingly close range, with the reward for dramatic aerobatics being an easy kill, and the punishment for stinky flying being an enemy Ace right on your tail with a sudden and unexpected aerobatic flourish.
It’s a neat twist on the Ace Combat formula – a formula that already forms the core of the best arcadey aerial shooter series ever made. You can put your faith in Project Aces and Namco when it comes to shooting planes full of holes, even, it seems, when shackled to the 10-tonne movie licence anchor. When it comes to planes, Namco can do no wrong: not on PS2, not on PSP, not on 360, and – at last – not on Wii.
Jan 12, 2010