|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco-Bandai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco-Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 31, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
On the plus side, the gameplay still has its moments. Although Joint Assault starts you out with some comparatively underpowered or uninteresting planes, the hangar feature from X is back in full force, allowing you to pimp out your favorite jets or buy new ones. The upgrade system is a nice touch and its a good thing Project Aces brought it back for this installment.
Some of the planes may feel stiff, but wait until you pick up some of the more advanced fighters; they make tracking and dogfighting noticeably easier (a blessing given the PSP single analog nub). After the semi-auto maneuvering mechanic used in The Sky Crawlers, you would think Project Aces could have utilized the triangle button or D-pad to pull off barrel rolls or quick turn arounds, but no dice. Finally, missions usually dont deviate much from blow up this or protect that, but theres enough variation in the action that things never feel completely stale, particularly with the right aircraft. Some optional mini-games break up the action as well, though these are actually just more mundane tasks like taking off from a runway or refueling in mid-air.
The game does a good job of sweeping you up in the moment, despite some of its more mundane issues. When youre flying against a series of foes that are more than competent, dogfighting can still be a thrill, particularly when youre playing chicken with someone miles into the sky. Showdowns like this are what Ace Combat has always been about, and in that regard, at least if youre piloting the right jet, holding a collision course position in order to get a lock on with your missiles can be pretty satisfying. Kudos to Project Aces for actually making the machine guns work effectively, as well.
Breaking point moments like these can only make up so much time spent playing the game, however. Because of that, whether or not you have any interest in Joint Assault is probably going to depend on a few other factors. Obviously, fans of Ace Combat will want it just because it's a new installment in the venerable series, and multiplayer-centric PSP owners looking for their next Peace Walker-style co-op experience might be interested, at least if they like flight sims. Its kind of silly the developers decided to use the whole real world setting in a way that doesnt take advantage of either the PSPs hardware or the narrative, it seems like they could have spent more time creating a game that echoed their last portable installment less if they hadnt, but for what it is, its still not bad (it is still Ace Combat after all). Joint Assault might not be the strongest entry in the series (though you cant realistically expect a portable installment to necessarily measure up to a more advanced console version), but true solo-flying aces may want to consider a rental before committing to this sortie.
CCC Freelance Writer