As gamers, we love blowing stuff up. And jets, especially top-of-the-line ones, are made for only one purpose - turning things into flaming piles of ruin. So why is there only one major flight combat series up to this point? Maybe it's because Ace Combat does everything so damn well there's just no reason for anyone else to step up.
With Skies of Deception, you're getting everything that's made the series rock on the consoles - rich sound effects, hardcore dogfights and science-fictiony doomsday devices thrown in with your modern-day war machines. Most missions devolve into "blast everything in the sky," but there are a few alternative sorties that keep things moving along. One has you hugging a mountain range in search of radar-jamming bases, with nothing more than a trail of radio towers to lead you forward. Veer too far from this course and you'll be fried by the immense set of surface-to-air missiles resting on the mountaintops. It's a fresh break from all the arcade-style shooting, but hey, that's why fans of the series have stuck around for a decade.
For all its similarities, Skies does try out a few new ideas. Normally you'd go mission to mission in a linear progression, but now there's a battle map that can directly affect the remaining campaigns. Striking an incoming fleet, for example, will erase it from the map and prevent it from aiding the enemy base next mission. You don't have to think too hard about your choices, but if you love replaying missions, here's a way to tinker with the outcome.