Sunday, February 1, 2015

A brief history of Ace Combat

With Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble Plus recently launched for the New Nintendo 3DS, the revamped version of the original 2012 game kicks off the Ace Combat series' 20th birthday this year since the first one launched in the summer of 1995. Let's take flight down memory lane on the Ace Combat timeline.
Ace Combat history

Ace Combat (1995, PSX) - The first installment was launched in the summer of 1995 on the first-ever Sony Playstation. Known in the west as Air Combat for some reasons, this game pits player on the role of the mercenary bent on reclaiming the nation from terrorist forces. Whether if its air-to-air combat, air-to-ground combat, air-to-sea combat, or whatever combat hits you, the first Ace Combat game really blew gamers away with its intense 3D dogfights that served as the benchmark from the maddest game company ever known.

Ace Combat 2 (1997, PSX) - After the success of the first one, Namco decided to make a sequel of the hit flight-shooting game. As the pilot of the Special Task Force Squadron Scarface, your mission, as always, is to eliminate terrorist threats throughout the nation.

Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere (1999, PSX) - If you live in Japan, you were in luck because the third-installment of the hit flight-shooting game features a more dramatic storyline, something that the Western release couldn't get for numerous reasons. Dramatic aside, AC3 Electrosphere features a more futuristic look to the aircraft, locations, as well as the soundtrack. Set in the 2040's, the two corporations, General Resource and Neucom, are clashing over their ideals for economic domination. With the top scientists from General Resource have defected to Neucom, the tensions between the two companies are fierce and Neucom is threaten to use violence to achieve their corporate objectives. As the member of the Universal Peace Enforcement Organization or UPEO, your mission is to protect the interest of General Resource and put a stop to Neucom's aggressions.

The Japanese version of the game did feature some anime cutscenes on it. We even heard about the game's Mission Zero OVA that we knew it in the first place, which served as the prologue for the game.

Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (2001, PS2) - A year after the PS2 was launched in Japan, Namco decided to up the series' ante by creating their newest installment which takes advantage of the Playstation2's physics. It's the game that sets the storyline benchmark that was carried over to future installments and we were accustomed to it. This game is set on the fictional USEA continent. After the planetfall of the Ulysses 1994XF04 asteroids in 1999, the Federal Republic of Erusea took over most of the USEAN continent as well as the anti-air railgun installment Stonehenge. The year is 2004 and as the pilot of the Independent States Allied Forces' Mobius squadron, call sign Mobius 1, your mission is to stop the Erusian forces from all over the continent and save USEA, no matter the risks.

Yes, there's some anime part on this game only this time in stills. In these cutscenes, the narrator tells about what he experienced during the war, his encounter with the Yellow Squadron (one of the enemies), and how the war unfolds in the USEAN continent. Seems that the game's storytelling wasn't so bad after all.

Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War (2004, PS2) - This is the game where the term "Project Aces" was born. It's the game that features one of the most dramatic storytelling as well as introducing the whole world of Ace Combat. Gone are the anime cutscenes and it was replaced with some CG-animated cutscenes that makes it more lively for the storytelling of this game. The year is 2010, 15 years after the nuclear explosion triggered in the Principality of Belka that made the winning nations surrendered their weapons and ceased fighting or so they thought. In the present time, the Osean Air Defense Force 108th Tactical Fighter Squadron lost most of its members and later the disappearance of Capt. Jack Bartlett. When the unknown strikes down the OSEAN Federation, only you and your co-pilots must save the country of OSEA from an unknown threat, which turned out to be from the Yuktobanian forces. While it retains the same air and ground combat you'd expect from past installments, this game features the Wingman Command system which puts the fate of your wingmen in your hands. Split-second decision is vital in this game and in some parts of the game, you will respond in a Yes-or-No question where one decision changes everything as you progress.

The aircrafts shown in the game are now more realistic than ever (with the exception of the secret X-02 Wyvern and the Falken plane) because for the first time, Namco made a collaboration with the world's top aviation companies to bring real-world aircrafts, including the F14 Tomcat (the cover plane), to life.

Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War (2006, PS2) - So what exactly happened 15 years ago? How did Belka lost the war and triggered the nightmarish nuclear explosion to their own land? This prequel answers all of the questions as Ace Combat Zero takes a thrust back in time, witnessing the events occurred before AC5 as well as the hidden truth of this war. Players take on the role of a mercenary pilot from the republic of Ustio, one of the former East Belka territories that gained independence due to Belka's recession. The year is 1995. 15 years before the Unsung War and four years before the Ulysses incident. With the discovery of the underground natural resources of Ustio, Belka began to invade its neighboring nations and ruled with an iron fist and the country of Ustio placed all their hope for a joint operation with the Allied Forces under the Offensive Campaign No. 4101.

A little Mexican telenovela feel to the game's theme song which is a fitting for the prequel but the game's cutscenes are more of a documentary highlighting the events of The Belkan War. There's also interviews of enemy aces you've encountered who witnessed the war from their own eyes as well.

Familiar elements from Ace Combat 5 such as the Stier Castle (a castle near the ground zero craters triggered by nuclear explosions), Mt. Schirm (the one with the mining area where the Razgriz sealed it in AC5), Heartbreak One (Bartlett), Grabacr, Huckebein (Pops), and the aircraft carrier Kestrel were on this prequel.

Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception (2006, PSP) - The raw firepower of the Ace Combat series goes portable with Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception. Launched for Japan only on the PlayStation Portable in late 2006, this game takes on the role of a fighter pilot from the Aurelian Air Force's Gryphus Squadron and your mission is to save Aurelia from the tyranny of Leasath forces. Like any other Ace Combat games, you can expect secret aircrafts, various missions, and even a battle against a giant airborne fortress.

Ace Combat 6: 解放への戦火 (2007, XBOX 360) - Although a little discontent about Namco's decision to make AC6 an XBOX 360 exclusive as well as the limited choice of aircraft available, this game pushed the genre to its unprecedented heights thanks to its high-definition graphics, physics, sound, and its storytelling. It was the summer of 2015 in the Republic of Emmeria, located at the heart of the Anea continent which is located above Yuktobania, when the Federal Republic of Estovakia took control of the Emmerian capital city Gracemeria with a massive firepower as well as the air force's Strigon team and the heavy command cruiser called Aigaion (otherwise known as Moby Dick). With their homeland gone, it's up to the Emmerian army to take back their nation they called home from the Estovakian tyranny and that's where you come in as Garuda 1 (Talisman) of the Emmerian Air Force 8th Air Division 28th Fighter Squadron.

The Wingman System is now evolved in this game and when you're in places where ESM is active, you can now trigger an Allied Attack or Allied Cover and let every ally in the area as well as Garuda 2 (Shamrock) help you when the battle gets messy.

For the first time in series history, AC6 features online gameplay where you can play with or against other aces from across the world and take on either team deathmatches or online co-ops. There's also downloadable content as well featuring liveries based from past Ace Combat games as well as aircraft inspired from, you've guessed, The iDOLM@STER.

Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion (2009, iPhone/iPod Touch) - Ace Combat goes portable again and this time it's in the screens of the iPhone or iPod Touch in this app game heavily inspired from 2006's Skies of Deception. Although a little complicated to play due to its touch-screen functions, this game is how Namco do when they put their maddest games to smartphones. Want to play one, well sadly you can't because it's no longer compatible with those running on iOS7 or higher.

Ace Combat X2: Joint Assault (2010, PSP) - This is a totally new turn to the Ace Combat franchise because for the first time ever, Ace Combat takes on our world in ACX2 Joint Assault. No more fictional areas like from the previous ones. It's now real-world locations like Tokyo, London, Egypt, San Francisco, and many others. As the member of the Antares Squadron, run by the private military company Martinez Security, your mission is to save the world from threats done by the terrorist organization Valahia and uncover the conspiracy behind the Golden Axe Plan.

Ace Combat Assault Horizon (2011, PS3/XBOX 360) - With the storyline penned by Jim DeFelice, writer of two of the New York Times' bestsellers Leopards Kill and Threat Level Black, Assault Horizon draws inspiration from real-time conflict as players take on the role of Colonel William Bishop of the fictional US Air Force 108th Task Force Warwolf as he engage on a war on terror that will change his life. Because it draws inspiration from real-time conflicts, it's set on real-world locations including Russia, USA, and the Middle East. This game puts a new spin on the franchise because of its unique close range assault system that makes dogfights more dynamic unlike any other.

Other than that, Assault Horizon features missions where you can take flight on helicopters, bombers, or even a gunship. There's also a wide range of DLC aircrafts, skins, and more, including fan-favorites such as iDOLM@STER-themed aircraft, Ace Combat 6's CFA-44 Nosferatu, Macross-themed aircraft, US aircrafts, and the Shoji Kawamori-designed fantasy aircraft called the ASF-X Shinden II.

Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble (2012, 3DS) - Sold in the US under the Assault Horizon Legacy banner, AC3D Cross Rumble sends this fast-flying franchise straight to the Nintendo 3DS for the first time. Taking advantage of the Nintendo 3DS' capabilities, Cross Rumble features intense and engaging battles in 3DS, touch-screen controls, and some edge-of-your-seat controls.

Ace Combat Infinity (2014, PS3) - Launched in mid-May 2014, Ace Combat Infinity is the series' first-ever free-to-play flight shooting game made exclusively for the Playstation3. Whether if its a veteran mercenary or a battle-shy rookie, Ace Combat Infinity pits players behind the cockpit of some of the world's best aircrafts from the F22 Raptor, F14 Tomcat, F15 Strike Eagle, Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale, Mirage 2000, T50, or any other well-known aircrafts in history as well as fictitious ones as seen in numerous installments such as the Morgan from The Belkan War and the ASF-X Shinden II from Assault Horizon. Over two million players have been downloaded this free-to-play PS3 exclusive since its launch and engage in either campaign or online co-ops as well as the weekly challenges where prizes include special aircrafts, new emblems, research reports, or other prizes.

Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble Plus (2015, 3DS) - Recently launched in Japan last 29th of January, 2015 and coming in the US this February under the Assault Horizon Legacy Plus banner, Cross Rumble Plus is a revamped version of the 2012 3DS game but now updated for the New Nintendo 3DS. Aside from taking advantage of the new control schemes of the New 3DS, Bandai Namco collaborated with Nintendo for special aircrafts as well as those that can be unlocked with Nintendo's amiibo figures, sold separately.

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