GBA REVIEW: ACE COMBAT ADVANCE

Ace Combat Advance offers the most basic gameplay design imaginable. It may have a sophisticated graphics engine and a good assortment of aircraft but for a game that should be presented in 3D, it falls flat.

There's no sense in comparing Ace Combat Advance to the console version of Ace Combat. The further that you can get your expectations away from this game resembling the latter the better off you might be, although this game would still get a bad review even if it went by a new name.

In the near future, megalithic corporations rule the planet, muck like Wal-Mart does now. One company in particular, General Resources Ltd., even has its own airforce. It's a large and hostile company and it's making life miserable for people all over the world. The United Air Defense is committed to challenge General Resources but first it must take on its airforce. Thus the game begins.

There are 10 planes and 12 missions. The missions take place over diverse locations such as the arctic, ocean, forest and desert. Piloting various jetcraft you shoot down targets and bomb installations. There is little variation in the missions.

One aspect that separates the GBA version from the console is the lack of the third dimension. All battles take place on the same 2D plane. There is no variation in the altitude. You are either up in the air or down near the ground. In many cases you will have to swoop down to take out specific targets on the ground in which case all you will be doing is moving up and down repeatedly to do your business and then get the hell out of the way. Even approaching enemy aircraft will be at the same altitude. I realize the GBA is incapable of processing subtle altitude discrepancies and it would be harder to see these differences and make the necessary control adjustments without a large HUD. I shouldn't have to make excuses for a game but maybe the developers should have thought about converting this game to the PSP which might have been able to do it some justice.

Let's face it, the GBA and aerial combat just doesn't work. At best you could say this is an average 2D shooter. The dogfight sequences are nothing more than a game of chicken where you try to get the enemy to veer off course by driving straight at him.

The Mode-7 style engine scrolls smoothly but it can't work miracles. The artwork could have been a lot better at showing relief. Not only is there a huge lack of detail but it everything looks flat. Instead of a top-down view the developers should have skewed the view at a slight angle to better simulate depth.

You can play the game as both a novice and an ace with the two difficulty settings. Other than that there's no replay value. There are no extra single or multi-player modes and nothing to unlock other than the planes. As a final kick in the pants there is a password save to contend with. Rent it if you must but don't buy it.

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System: GBA
Dev: HumanSoft
Pub: Namco
Release: Feb 2005
Players: 1
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.0
GRAPHICS
2.5
CONTROL
2.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
1.0