games / Reviews

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4) Review

February 10, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4) Review  

I’ll admit I’ve basically never played an Ace Combat game. My only experience with any of them was playing Ace Combat 1 on a few PS1 demo discs I used to have as a kid. Those were quite fun but

At its most basic, Ace Combat 7 is a dogfighting/air combat game. In most missions you either have to attack ground targets or enemy aircraft all while keeping your own plane safe and (optionally) the mission objective alive. At the core, it’s a fairly simple game but honestly that is why it works pretty well.

Controls are simple but can take some getting used to. L2 and R2 are used for decelerate and accelerate respectively, while L1 and R1 are used for wing turning. X is used to fire your machine guns, Circle is used to fire your missiles or bombs. Square cycles between your special weapon types while Triangle is used for changing the selected target. Finally, R3 lets you change cameras, either outside your plane or a few cockpit views, and pressing L3 and R3 at the same time drops some flares to confuse enemy missiles from hitting you.

Frankly, the above control layout is 99% of what the game offers you. The only other real maneuver you can do is by pressing L2 and R2 at the same time you can execute a “High-G turn” where your plane can make a sharper turn than usual to line up a shot. The downside is that it really burns your speed if you do a long one and if you lose too much speed you’ll stall out. I actually didn’t end up using this move too much in my time with the game but maybe that is just me.

Most missions follow a fairly typical structure: you’ll fly along for a minute, come across your target (either on ground or air) and begin fighting. That’s kind of about it. For ground targets you’ll come across A.A. Guns or SAMs that can hit you, and for air, you’ll come across a large amount of aircraft to fight up against.

Missions generally just involve blowing things up but there are some occasional ones that are more varied. One early mission involves you having to pilot around enemy radar bubbles and if you get spotted the mission ends. So you had to go kind of slow and stealthily, well, as much as a plane can get stealthy. Another later mission just involved you trying to cause as much destruction to an enemy base as possible. It wasn’t the deepest mission but was pretty fun.

In the game is the “Aircraft Tree” which is a fancy term for a shop where you can unlock new planes. There are three basic types of planes: fighter (good against air to air combat), attacker (good against ground targets) and multirole (decent against both).

You unlock new ships using “MRP” which are basically Military Points. You gain them from doing either story missions or playing in the multiplayer, which I’ll get into a bit below. Aside from new ships, you can purchase new special armaments for those planes, or unlock new systems for all planes, like improving missile power or enhancing aircraft maneuverability.

Playing the multiplayer breaks the economy is a really funny way. After playing three story missions, I had about 110,000 MRP to spend. After playing three multiplayer rounds that got bumped up to 400,000. So…if you want to unlock everything quickly, play some multiplayer online. Planes you buy are used in both modes, so there isn’t a divide between them like in most games, which is great.

Multiplayer in the game is solid even if there aren’t a ton of people playing. There are two main modes: Battle Royal and Team Death Match, and they are what you think they would be. Playing against and with other people is a lot more challenging than the single player mode and if you have a good crew with you, you’ll have a ton of fun taking to the skies with your friends. Playing this mode brought back some memories of Starfox 64, which is really nice.

The story in Ace Combat 7 is…uh….fine? It’s weird, but from what I gather isn’t as weird as it has been in the past games. Your primary character is “Trigger” a pilot within the air force who eventually ends up in prison but still flying around. A concurrent character is Avril, who was trying to repair a plane to honor her grandfather but gets embroiled in a war. These characters eventually meet up, as well as others, amidst the war between Erusea and Osea (your nation).

I guess my weird feeling is that this is a made up land and story but is still using real aircraft (including names) for plane battles. Like, is this supposed to be some parallel world, or what? I guess it’s moot in the grand scheme of things, but is still kind of weird.

The only real negative I can think about for this game is that it’s pretty specialized. I said above that it reminded me a bit of Starfox 64 but in no way is it really that. Starfox 64 was (generally) an on-rails shooter that was campy and easy to pick up and play. While Ace Combat 7 isn’t as hardcore as a DCS game or a Wings of Prey, it still has a semi-steep learning curve associated with it. If flight games are completely not your thing then this game won’t change your mind any. But if you have even the faintest interest, then this should keep you busy for a while.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
While I don’t think Ace Combat 7 is for everyone I did genuinely enjoy my time with it. It’s also about the only flight simulator game on consoles, so it has that going for it. The action is good and dynamic, it looks beautiful, and there are some good twists on the formula. It’s a pretty solid little package, all told.