Ace Combat 7 : Skies Unknown Review
For authors from Writercheap.com, the new part of the Ace Combat franchise became a revelation. In fact, Skies Unknown is a fresh air breath for the whole series: it presents new graphics, online game modes, and the great choice of aircrafts. Writers decided to have a break in working on research topics and tell about things expecting pilots in the Ace Combat 7.
Probably all console gamers fond of arcade aircraft simulators know the Ace Combat series. The Bandai Namco created their separate branch of air adventure games with its rules and conditions. Taking into account sale results, we can say that many players liked this franchise in the past. Still, the interesting sequel hadn’t been released within the last 3 years, and the Ace Combat: Assault Horizon for PS3 was not accepted well because of its tricky gameplay and strange plot turns.
Finally, the new part of Ace Combat came out taking all the best features from previous games. Japanese developers had to use several years to bring complex gameplay mechanics and a touching story able to keep players till the very end. And the pleasant bonus was served as well: photorealistic graphics, beautiful CGI scenes and additional gameplay features including the online mode and VR helmet support for PS4 and PS4Pro. For all fans of arcade aircrafts, there is a huge choice of planes and additional options to eliminate land and air enemies.
Here you can’t improve your aircraft’s characteristics without certain achievements. Just as usual, you’ll pass some missions again and again to improve your results.
In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Erusea attacked the USEA Federation, so the player is automatically assigned to air forces of the defending side.
Missions are interchanged with flashback memories of main heroes, propagandistic movies about Motherland and patriotism and stories about life challenges. Sometimes they seem too long, especially when the simple storyline becomes quite clear.
To interest players, authors and level designers had to come up with non-standard solutions. For instance, the space between zones is tracked by enemy radars and the fact that your aircraft has been spotted means immediate defeat and mission replay. We also liked the move: the player had to become the unarmed target just to demonstrate some activity of the faked airbase to distract opponents. Of course, great “crush them all and get many points” missions are here, too.
The gameplay is quite predictable and looking like what we all have seen in previous parts. Players have basic universal missiles dealing with land and air targets with average effectiveness. It is required to lock on the object till the frame around it turns red and then launch one or two missiles.
Still, air targets usually have certain chances to avoid being hit due to their ability to maneuver. It is worth launching missiles on air targets when approaching them from their tail or at least partially crossing with their movement direction. This brings some realism to the game. The rest is for the magic of Ace Combat.
The basic number of missiles is defined for each plane model. But as always, arcade game rules spawn new rounds under the wings of your aircraft to hit enemies again and again. Unfortunately, you won’t risk meeting the foe one on one having only the on-board machine gun charged with few bullets.
There is a specific weapon, too: additional missiles “air-air” or “air-land”. If the mission states you to protect objects against swarms of unmanned planes, then special solutions to destroy bunkers won’t be effective. And vice versa: if you need to destroy the airbase or any other super important ground object, your choice is the missile effectively striking land targets. That is why you should pay attention to tasks for every new mission.
Fortunately, arcade rules do not work for special weapons. If you have 8 missiles or bombs to strike land targets, you better calculate how to use them in advance. Wrong actions frequently lead to mission failures, and you’ll have to play it from the very beginning with a new plane and equipment.
This limit works for thermal flares, too: their number is fixed and they do not always help. This is fair because the use of flares is not that cool when the aircraft is tracked by the missile system and the operator’s eye, even in the arcade game.
The second main weapon is the aircraft machine gun. It requires a certain level of skill from the player but allows dealing with numerous enemies. It is especially useful at the end of the mission when there are probably little to no missiles.
The difficulty level is set at the very beginning of the game and can’t be changed as you walk through the single-player campaign. This works for both gameplay and aircraft controls. In case you choose “advanced” control options, flying becomes more difficult with realism elements. But here Ace Combat 7 still is a balanced arcade to enjoy airplanes, graphics, and quite easy gameplay features.
Clouds that appeared in Skies Unknown became some kind of news. Thanks to improved CPU and GPU abilities, the interaction with clouds became the gameplay element: you can “hide” your plane from missiles and enemies chasing you by flying into the cloud. But they have equal chances to disappear from your sight, too.
And if you fly in clouds for too long, ice sticks to your aircraft and can hurt its maneuverability. Clouds also are reasons for radio communication jams, and thunderstorms cause aiming problems.
The picture looks great on both PC and console hardware. Artists and designers put a lot of efforts to draw planes, fantastic gadgets and machines, missile trails and explosions. Meteorological conditions are displayed in an interesting way, too: when flying into clouds, pilots can see water drops on the cockpit glass.
Of course, smaller ground objects and trees are drawn with lesser details, but that does not matter much: most fights happen in air-to-air contacts. Landscapes and water reflecting sunrays look impressive from heights.
CGI movie scenes look great, too. Sometimes, you can’t really understand if the movie is animated or filmed.
Sound suits the topic and the concept of the franchise. Symphonic rock tracks sound cool accompanied by noises of plane engines, explosions, missile launch and AI assistant messages.
On January 18, 2019, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown became available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles with additional VR missions. On February 1 it came out for PC’s.
All in all, it is an interesting game made in the genre of the arcade aircraft simulator which is rare nowadays. It took all the best features from previous parts of the franchise, got new graphics and the online playing mode. We highly recommend it for all gamers.