Friday, July 20, 2007

Xbox 360 - Ace Combat 6 Demo

I'm a big fan of combat flight simulator games, whether aero or astro. And I've always thought that the Ace Combat series strikes the perfect balance between realism and the arcade. Too much realism ard you've got Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator or IL-2 5turmovik where so much effort goes into managing and navigating the aircraft that play becomes work. That's for the hardcore simulator jockeys. Too little and you've got Afterburner, where the "aircraft" moves in ways not remotely resembling flight.

The Ace Combat games combine aircraft that look authentic and fly in a somewhat realistic manner with photorealistic terrain and just enough arcadey concessions to playability (ridiculous amounts of ludicrously accurate missiles, for instance) to make the experience a fun one. I've enjoyed them so much I own all except Ace Combat GBA, which is not a flight sim but an arcade shoot-em-up.

Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation? Sold! It went on my must-buy list as soon as I found out it was in development. I only downloaded and played the demo to answer the question: "Does the ol' girl look better with the new coat of pretty they slapped on her?"

She does.

I can see a myriad of details that weren't visible in the PS2 games, plus extra little effects (like the individually moving nozzle flaps on the F-16's engine), plus more highly detailed terrain and buildings, plus, plus, plus. Explosions and falling aircraft look more spectacular, and even the vapor trails coming off the wings look more realistic. It is as much an improvement over the PS2 games as they were over the PS1 titles.

The core gameplay is the same as it's been in every game in the series since Ace Combat 2, and that's a good thing. I won't go into details for fear of spoiling it, but based on the demo series veterans can expect to encounter many of the elements that are a staple of the franchise.

Even if I hadn't been a fan before, the demo would have sold me on this game; several times during the demo's single mission I uttered the coveted "sweet!" and at one point the elusive "holy crap!"

I recommend trying the demo for Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. Even if combat flight sims are not your cup of tea, you may well find yourself a convert.

Grade: A+

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