Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation

Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War (PlayStation 2 - 2004)
When your life can be taken in a split second, your commands must be taken even faster.

After the immense success of Ace 04, one would assume the next game in the series would perform admirably. But, for whatever reason, The Unsung War failed to move consumers in the same way its predecessor did. The graphics improved, the plot became even denser and improved wingman controls gave players more control over the battlefield than any other game in the series, yet sales just didn't match up. Perhaps it was due to 04's instant leap in technology that made part five seem like more of the same, but since this point, the series has held its ground, yet gained little.

With the emphasis placed more on teamwork than a solo jet pilot superstar, the characters almost take a more central role than the action. Extensive cinemas tell a Cold War-esque story that's not all that exciting while your co-pilots piss and moan in the middle of intense battles. It definitely felt like Namco wanted Unsung War to add more of everything to 04's plate, but this might have been a case of too much at once. The over-the-top philosophical loading screens didn't help much either.

On the other hand, there was perhaps more mission diversification in this game than 04, be it circling a stadium during a president's speech or soaring in between skyscrapers with antibiotic, plague-stopping ammo. An extra arcade mode returned players to the events of Ace Combat 04, giving the action hearted a place to go with fewer lines of dialogue and more heat seeking missiles.

All games in the Ace series feature some kind of oversized, sci-fi super weapon, but Unsung War has two extremely mobile threats to take out. First are the super-submarines that haunt the early bits of the game, and then the Arkbird, a high-flying peace machine called into service for its accurate laser attacks.

Defining moment
Oddly enough, the intro to The Unsung War is perhaps the most memorable aspect of the game (no disrespect to the main campaign, of course). Its talk of "demons" and "ghosts" almost convince you that you're going to have to fly a jet straight into some supernatural realm - until you hear Puddle of Mudd's "Blurry" song kick in. Musical taste aside, the song was a good three years old by the time it appeared in the game, dating this quest before it even began. Funny also because the game's supposed to take place in 2010. They behind the times or what?

Brett Elston

A fomer Executive Editor at GamesRadar, Brett also contributed content to many other Future gaming publications including Nintendo Power, PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine. Brett has worked at Capcom in several senior roles, is an experienced podcaster, and now works as a Senior Manager of Content Communications at PlayStation SIE.