November 18, 2019 at 8:52 AM #572
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding
A great Ace Combat game with a couple minor hitches
Hello and welcome to my review of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown.
For my review I wanted to make a fair review of the game based on five categories each worth a point in total to give the game its five point rating and those categories are as follows:
Story: how well the storyline was written and delivered and how memorable the characters in it were
Atmosphere: visuals an soundtrack goes here.
Gameplay: how well the missions were laid out and how playable they were. Game mechanics are also here
Controls: self explanatory. How well the controls were laid out and placement of each button
Multiplayer: how well the multiplayer modes were executed
With this system, my overall score for the game is a 4.5. Let’s dive in.
STORY Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room here, which is that not only does the story not meet up to the typical standards of AC games previously, but it’s hard to understand in general. Yes, the story is there, and yes, it’s kind of a good one in summary, but the biggest problem with it I think is that it was told from too many perspectives. We never got enough individual character development from any one supporting character to get an emotional connection from any of them. It was really cool as a long time fan of the series to see that the stories from the previous games so heavily impacted the story of this one( I think that every AC game in this universe is represented here), but with it coming from so many different angles it was difficult to invest in. So, because of this, the story only gets a half a point from me.
Atmosphere Wow, in this category Ace Combat 7 shines. The music isnt quite as epic as it has been and is therefore less memorable than, say, the track for Megalith in AC04, but that’s a hard meter to judge against (its playing in your head now isnt it?). Despite that, the music fits well, is beautifully done, and does help create a wonderful environment. The other part of this point would go to visuals and for me it is really hard to put into words how this game looks. My vocabulary fails here to give me any accurate things to say so I’ll just use this one word: STUNNING. Seriously, oh man, if that is what you are looking for be prepared to be blown away! I cant remember how many times me and my kids were slack jawed, staring at the TV because of how well everything was rendered. From the waves on the ocean to the detail of the clouds to the pilots in the other planes (yes, they’re there if you get close enough) all of it is there and it all looks amazing! Really, you could buy this game for that reason alone, it borders on art.
GaGameplay Here it is, the meat and potatoes. If you have been waiting around and got the Ace Combat itch, this game delivers. From switching between Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground missions to high speed dogfights, not only does this game deliver the amazing action we as fans come to expect, but it ups the score with more minutiae that gives a fresh challenge to the old formula. From learning how to execute High G turns effectively in combat to finding new challenges in combating air currents while flying, this game will take your existing skills as a pilot, teach you new tricks, and then challenge you to use all of your arsenal more effectively and consistently than before. In the past for me, I’ll be honest and say that the only time I’ve used rudder controls is either a) I’m in the obligatory tunnel mission or b) I’m screwing around after mission completion. That goes out the window the first time you hit an air current in AC7. I found myself with a finger on each trigger for those rudders and using them like my life depended on it (which in some cases it did in game at least). They have truly found a way to add more depth into the game and train you to be better without any tedious gimmicks attached. I will say at this point that the missions did seem a bit harder to me than the usual Ace Combat fare and that they seemed to be focused more on your skills as a pilot than before, but in a way that was still very enjoyable (at least when you weren’t stuck in a sandstorm fighting low visibility and high wind trying to shoot targets that didnt appear on radar until very close). The missions also seemed much longer than usual too, but that may just be perception. The only other thing I want to add to the gameplay section would be the Aircraft Tree which makes its return as the method used to unlock new aircraft. This mechanic in short gives you money ( or MRP) as a reward for each mission completed that you can use on a "tree" to unlock new planes or parts. Yes, customization parts return too, and while some purchases in the tree result in only one item being unlocked for purchase, many purchases in the tree lead to two or more items unlocking or require more than one purchase before they can be unlocked. This in my opinion is the preferred method of how unlocking new items should work and the only complaint I could make is that the customization parts seem kinda random in their placement forcing you to go down paths you didnt intend to get the parts you want. This really is a non issue though, as you will get plenty in rewards to explore the tree and ultimately you will want to unlock the majority anyway which won’t pose much of a challenge.
Controls The controls in this game are great. I am an Ace Combat veteran so I went straight for the expert controls, but I also watched my teenage son pick up the series for the first time on this game and learn them fairly easily himself, so even from a new set of eyes they arent hard to pick up. For returning Ace Combat fans you will be happy to know that the controls seem to be as accurate and precise as ever with just a couple of minor hitches: first, the throttle/brake buttons have been switched for the rudder controls and second, since the PS4 has no start/select buttons the weapon change button is now square and the map button is the touchpad. Both of these changes can be reverted to classic controls through the options menu you so desire (I definitely did) to more accurately match the old controller setup, with the only loss being that you no longer have the pressure sensitivity function for your map which is frustrating, but doesnt really ruin the experience. Ultimately, with the controller setup being able to me configured to the classic controls and the usual precision that has always been in the games I still gave a full point in this category
Multiplayer Multiplayer has always been an awesome part of this franchise to me and the ability to play online against others is awesome. Although you will have very different encounters against human opponents than you will against AI (duh) I have found this mode nothing but satisfying. You will take your aircraft tree that you have unlocked in the campaign and use any unlocked aircraft you want against your opponents, and at the end of the match you will gain more MRP to further unlock your tree. So, if you need to boost your hangar a little bit to get that aircraft or weapon you need in the campaign, hopping over to multiplayer is an easy way to do it. They have two game modes so far, Battle Royale which is just a free for all mode, and Team Deathmatch. They also have a sort of level cap setting where each plane, weapon, and upgrade part has it’s own point value and players are limited to a certain value of points to build their aircraft, making it so that if the first game mode you try is multiplayer, you arent completely blown out of the water by someone who has everything unlocked (provided you already have decent flying skill of course. Nobody is taking down an F22A in a Mig-21 their first time playing). These gates are clearly displayed above every match you enter and you can limit your searches for only these rooms as well, making choosing your competition less complicated (although dont be fooled into thinking that these pilots will be easier. This is a skill based game and the people playing have worked very hard to be good). The only complaints o could make for this mode is that the matches seem too short to play in with no way to adjust match time and in Team Deathmatch it doesnt seem like the game does a very good job of balancing teams at all. But these are minor gripes and nothing worth taking a point for.
Overall, if you’ve been dying for another Ace Combat game or you are looking for something new and out of the norm, Ace Combat 7 is a great buy. I would even go as far as saying that it is a must buy for fans of the series. Although the story is hard to follow at times, that’s really the only complaint in an otherwise amazing game. Enjoy!
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