In the analysis of Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown we find again a mythical saga of Namco. 20 years after its debut on PlayStation, it continues to offer us accessible control and a spectacular recreation of more than 30 combat aircraft.
A fighter plane is not only the most powerful weapon in the world, but represents the triumph of human engineering; the aeronautical race is the spearhead of progress, and the machines we drive Ace Combat 7 they are the most advanced who crossed the skies. In Skies Unkwnon we can appreciate it in unprecedented detail: the beauty of its lines, its incredible maneuverability, the sound barrier, and the "smart" weaponry (which can select and eliminate a target from a great distance) produce a strange fascination. It's like watching a thoroughbred race or a racing car … but with a much greater destruction capacity.
In Project Aces, the studio that has been in charge of the saga since Ace Combat 4 Shattered Skies for PS2 (released in 2001), they know very well the potential of these "birds" of metal. That's why they have taken the time required for each of the planes that appear in the game (in total, there are more than 50 aircraft, of which we can fly 30) appears reflected in the screen with a level of sick detail.
And it's not just that the models look almost like a photograph, it's also the way the stratospheric light reflects on the fuselage, or the condensation that occurs from a certain height, even the color change in the image. reactors depending on the temperature of combustion.
In some cases, when Ace Combat 7, we wondered if we were watching a 3D model or if they were pictures of real airplanes. So aviation fans will go crazy with what this air combat arcade offers.
After Ace Combat Infinity, a "free to play" that appeared on PS3 five years ago, we finally welcome a new installment of the saga, and we can anticipate that the wait was worth it.
The planes available in Ace Combat 7
A science fiction story
The thread of the campaign is not a simple war, but it is about following different characters: Avie (a young woman who descends from a line of pilots and is an exceptional mechanic), Trigger, a pilot accused of treason or "archenemy" on duty, Mihaly … A group of pilots in the "twelfth of the scaffold" who are dragged into combat.
Like the other canonical deliveries of the series, Ace Combat 7 does not develop on Earth, but we participate in the offensive between the fictional countries, Osea and the kingdom of Erusea, and there are some elements of science fiction, such as the presence of drones. intelligent or the space elevator. It is a different perspective from the old story of man vs. machine.
All this argument is in the background. The general geopolitical context is a bit confusing, and the characters are hardly investigated, but in combat, things are simpler: you have to defeat the rival forces before the mission time runs out.
A demanding control arcade
O Ace Combat Saga It is characterized by a combination of realistic graphics (both the exterior of the aircraft and the cabin) with a arcade control. It is the "superevolution" of those After the burner O G-Loc of the arcades … because there is no other solution. It is impossible to adapt to the control of our console all the controls that a fighter requires: acceleration, warping, steering lever, radar, electronic countermeasures, landing gear and, of course, different types of weapons.
But that does not mean it is not a demanding control: the feeling of sitting in the cockpit of one of these aircraft is achieved thanks to the speed with which everything is developed and the amount of elements that must be met during a mission. .
Unknown Heavens allows us to choose between normal and expert control, but in both cases the real difficulty – which determines if we are a true "firearm" – is to keep all parameters monitored: speed, height, temperature (because the airplane can freeze certain situations ), the detection of enemies, ammunition … and avoid the impact of the missiles that launch us. As soon as we do, we expect a series of missions that show all combat styles imaginable.
The basis of dogfight aerial combat is the basis of the game: chasing an opponent, aligning himself with a combination of moves and speeding, and blowing him through the air with a heat-guided missile. But we should applaud the effort to show different situations throughout the campaign, and there are many. In addition to the clashes in the sky, there are levels of destruction in which our goal is to achieve a score by blowing up rival facilities with air-to-ground missiles.
We also face escort missions, defense installations and even infiltration (avoiding entering the area of enemy radars or dodging the surveillance spotlight). The fact that it is a science fiction story also opens the door to extraordinary situations such as facing "final enemies" such as the Arsenal Bird, a huge plane that can deploy a swarm of drones.
And finally, we must add combat situations in extreme climatic conditions, such as storms, closed nights or sandstorms. In any case, whatever the mission, it is extremely satisfying to overthrow each goal, and the only thing we miss is to be able to score the number of casualties on our "dirty" ones.
After each mission we can take advantage of the replays (with freedom to move the camera and disable the audio tracks) or a complete summary, like a briefing at a flight academy. And we can repeat the missions that we overcome in any level of difficulty or in the free flight mode.
Ace Combat 7 exclusive interview
A modern aviation deployment
As we earn points in Ace Combat 7 we unlock elements in an airplane tree. There are three types of unlocking: new hunting models – including all the essential elements of weapons and special pieces of modern aviation, which add special modifications such as improvements in maneuverability or protection against low temperatures.
Among the 30 available birds there are planes that fit each type of mission, and if you do not have prior knowledge, you'd better go testing. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a very fast and versatile aircraft, the F-15 Strike Eagle is a fighter bomber in accordance with the air-ground missions, while the A-10 is lethal with terrestrial targets due to its low speed. Of course, you can also just cast for your favorite (like the Mig 29 Fulcrum and Top Gun F-14 Tomcat).
At the end of the tree, there are more sophisticated aircraft, such as the F-22 Interceptor, but they are not easy to get. As an added bonus, the Trigger also gets new badges and nicknames to look at in multiplayer mode.
The multiplayer mode
The modes Ace Combat 7 online They are very limited. They are games of eight simultaneous players, in the classic all against all as in the team duel. And although the progress-by-can not compare system with another more popular shooter, we can customize our plans with 6 different aspects, unlock improvements and get shields and new nicknames.
The room system can be a bit confusing, and the experience is more chaotic than during the campaign, but it's a good way to test our driving skills.
The PS4 version also includes a virtual reality mode with PSVR. And in this type of game, where the head and cabin movement is independent, it works very well (it's the same case we saw in Star Wars Battlefront, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare or EVE Valkyrie). However, it's a shame that they are additional levels, rather than being able to play the entire campaign.
Ace Combat 7 VR Impressions for PSVR
Visual height section
As already mentioned, the Unreal Engine 4 Engine (which Bandai Namco has adopted for most of its developments) allows you to enjoy some perfect models as well as a very intelligent use of the camera. The skies are rendered with great beauty, just like the natural environments, but the buildings (buildings, refineries and military bases) are a little below.
The sound section, on the other hand, alternates a good musical work with the typical "chaos" of the combats. In addition to the constant radiocommunications (in English with Spanish subtitles) we hear the sound of the engines and the explosions, the assistance of flight, the siren that indicates when they fix us with a missile and the sound of "to lock" when we have that an enemy to shoot .
Ace Combat is a standard of the genre, and this seventh installment (from the main saga) takes advantage of the current generation of hardware to look like never before. The multiplayer mode and virtual reality levels for the PS4 version are a great addition, although the game shows some shadows that prevent it from reaching higher; the argument loses momentum as we move forward, and we would like to be able to play the campaign in cooperative mode – since we always fly with a support squad – or a higher level of customization on the aircraft's hull and fuselage.
But the aircraft catalog, its accomplishment and a tight fit – that does not allow us to relax for a moment – made us enjoy enormously, as fans of the genre.