Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation Hands-On Preview
Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation box art
System: X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Project Aces 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: Oct. 23, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Being a Top Gun without Tom Cruise
by Matthew Walker

August 7, 2007 - Since I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was younger, flight simulator games have always been an obsession to me. Therefore, whenever there is a new title that involves any kind of flying simulation, I immediately find out anything I can about the game. In my constant search for a flight simulator that will keep my interest as well as give me some clue for the cockpit on consoles, Ace Combat has been one that has made me happy. I know there are plenty of simulators on the PC, and I have played many of them, but I have always wanted that experience on my consoles to be that good.

Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation screenshot

Namco/Bandai is taking that next step into delivering a quality flight simulator by having their next installment appear only on the Xbox 360. I recently got the opportunity to see what we have in store from the latest Ace Combat series. Read on to see how it is shaping up.

From the beginning of the demo, I noticed the obvious upgrades to the graphics. Everything looked extremely realistic, right down the lettering on the sides of the planes. I was treated to a nice cinematic of the formations of the fighter-jets and then it was time to dive into the action of the game. Your pilot code name is Garuda 1, and you are flying solo until you are given a wingman who used to be Shamrock. The two of you head off from formation to confront the opposing forces. The controls feel a bit forced at times, and this was a little depressing considering how much the game appeared to have advanced from the PS2 days. Instead of placing the missile and machineguns on the triggers, you have the face buttons to worry about. The triggers act as your accelerate and de-accelerate, which is all fine and well, but they don't actually feel like you are doing anything. This is a major problem I have had with flight simulators across the board. I understand the need to keep it as realistic as we can, however, I think it is time that we receive a little speed representation in the games. Not saying that the vibrations don't give you a sense of this, but the whizzing speed of the enemy or friendly planes are not as enticing as they could have been. More often than not, your speed feels more like a slow parachute than a mach three fighter.

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I fought over Gracemaria, and from a distance the landscape looked great. Only after getting closer do you really see the fuzzy details of the lands below, but this is still a demo and making the landscapes sharper could be one of the things that Namco/Bandai is working on; I really hope that this is the case. After all, if you have the detail levels to the max when it comes to the planes and the skies in which your dogfights take place, then the lands you are protecting should look as good. Nevertheless, to make up for the graphic problems I can say that the radio communications voice acting is believable. Nothing feels horribly forced, and everyone, even your wingman, seems to have valid advice for how to take on the enemies, which comes in very handy when you start taking enemy fire. When three enemy fighters were attacking me, my wingman informed me about my special weapon, the launching of four heat seekers, and I narrowly pulled out of the fires of the sky.

Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation screenshot

The other thing that is very interesting about your wingman is that you can direct him on what to do. Cover and attack were the two options I had. Cover worked a whole lot better than the attack. While Garuda 2 was a great pilot on his own, he seemed a much better suit to cover me while I was attacking the enemy. During the demo, after the first wave was eliminated, it was just a few moments after the commander suggested that the fight was over that we were ambushed by another set of fighters. The only difference this time was that instead of trying to stand our own, we were grossly outnumbered; therefore, we had to return to base. That would have been simple enough except I was given a time limit to race to the western side of the grid, past all of the enemy fighters. After playing for the short amount of the demo, I finally caught a glimpse of some of that speed I was asking for. It was nothing spectacular, and I wish that it would be implemented a little better, but the vibrations and the whizzing tree-lines below almost captured the speed.

While Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation may not have completely hooked me with the demo, I will still be picking the title up; there is just too much that could cause it to rise above the ashes of the flight simulators from the past year. Moreover, there is a bonus Joystick control that you will be able to find bundled with the game which will come in handy for players that want a flight simulator on their console and want to grip the stick while singing "Danger Zone" in their heads. Look for Ace Combat 6 to hit shelves this October and aim for the sky.

Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation screenshot

By Matthew Walker
CCC Project Coordinator

Features:

  • The Next Generation of Warfare Demands The Next Generation of Aces! This year, the entire Flight Action genre will be single handedly redefined as Ace Combat 6, the latest in the No.1 flight action series arrives on the next generation console system to continue its absolute domination.
  • Live the war zones in photo-realistic detail: Witness the high definition graphics rendering the world around you into super realistic war zones, made possible only by the superior power of the next generation console system. Glide through breathtaking vistas of nighttime metropolitan skylines, snow-covered mountain ranges, gaping canyons, and skies full of beautifully rendered 3D clouds with tangible density and volume.
  • Command the allied assault force of aerial, naval, and ground combat units: The superior processing power of the next-gen console system gives players the ability to lead not only aerial combat units but also naval and ground combat units. The "Allied Support System" lets you call an army of loyal allies to your aide. Fight alongside fighter planes, gun ships, attack helicopters, tanks, naval fleets, heavy bombers, and electronic warfare vessels. Issue commands with split-second precision and witness the massive combined assault destroying numerous enemy forces at once!
  • Engage in fierce combat at an unprecedented scale and intensity: Massive conflicts unfold on a "living battlefield" integrated by the "Dynamic Operation System" where up to six independent aerial, ground, and naval battles can break out at once at multiple locations as allies and enemies clash in real-time. Experience the intense realism of war when battlefields come alive with engagingly authentic audio and visual effects: thundering explosions, dense vapor trails of air-to-air missiles, piercing machine gun fire, booming anti-aircraft artillery fire exploding in mid-air, and more.
  • Prove your supremacy on a global scale in the intense multi-player online mode via Xbox Live: The long awaited Online-Mode has finally arrived! For the first time in the Ace Combat franchise, several modes of online play with various rules become available, including death match style missions; an all out battle for control of the sky; team death matches; and co-op games, where players cooperate with friends to take on computer-controlled adversaries. Online rankings are calculated on both global and regional levels, with high-ranking players being granted honorable titles on a global scale, adding fuel to the fires of furious competition.
  • Pilot the authentic licensed combat aircraft of your dreams: Get in the cockpits of your favorite authentically detailed aircrafts from air forces around the globe such as the F-15 E Strike Eagle, F-22 Raptor, and Tornado for the most realistic flight combat action.
  • Enjoy an action packed ace pilot experience of unsurpassed quality: Seamless pacing and intuitive controls provide an immersive and stress-free gaming experience. Command an array of licensed aircraft as you break the sound barrier and soar 360 degrees through the sky. Player's performance directly affects the course of battle.
  • Experience firsthand the intense drama and emotions of the battlefield: Become entangled in an authentic war drama told from the perspectives of seven main characters, both friends and foes, from officers to soldiers to common citizens. Real-time allied and enemy radio communications change according to ever-changing events in battle.

  • Screenshots / Images
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