Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – Review
Follow Genre: Combat Flight Simulator
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PS4

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – Review

Site Score
8.6
Good: Gameplay, Story
Bad: Multiplayer servers
User Score
9.8
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)

Ace Combat, originally known as Air Combat, is already more than twenty years old, proving that gamers truly love a good dogfight. The series started out on the first PlayStation and has remained fairly true to Sony, safe for a release or two in the past. While this title is dubbed the seventh installment, there have already been sixteen prior releases, ranging from fully fledged titles to mobile games. Nonetheless, if we look at the main series, the sixth installment already dates back from 2007 so we were quite curious to strap in, and break the sound barrier once again in Skies Unknown.

Story

Even though the story can be overly complicated at times, Skies Unknown revolves around the war declaration between Osea and Erusia, two countries that have had a cease-fire for over a decade. While the war will involve a lot of political moves, you’ll be experiencing the story portions in the shoes of Avril, who gets arrested for flying her scrap yard plane during wartime. She is forced to join the ‘Spare Squadron’, to serve as decoys for enemy attacks. She is dumped in a nonfunctional military base to make broken planes operational again, giving the illusion that the base is a hot zone and a viable target for enemy attacks, distracting them from actual, more important targets. During the missions you’ll be playing as Trigger, a fairly successful pilot who eventually falls from grace and is thrown in with the Spare Squadron.

The story is being told by fairly impressive looking cutscenes and some information before your sortie. During missions you’ll hear enough chatter between the pilots and the commanding officer, but you’ll find little to no story value in said conversations.

Graphics

The graphical quality of Skies Unknown is quite impressive. The airplanes look a lot like their real life counterparts, and you can customize them in terms of weaponry, making sure they also look ready for war. The environments look decent, with the clouds being very realistically done, as well as the water you’ll undoubtedly be crossing while blasting your enemies from the sky. The landscapes and buildings are done in a somewhat inferior fashion, as buildings lack textures and there’s a lot of popping going on when you look at the horizon when flying low to the mainland. Nonetheless, the game is impressively created and will certainly get you in the mood to experience reasonably realistic dogfights and a certain sense of freedom when soaring through the skies.

In-between missions you’ll often see cutscenes which aren’t shy of amazing in terms of backgrounds and environments. The character models however differ from great to somewhat underwhelming. Nonetheless, it’s clear a lot of effort was put into creating an appealing list of story sequences to view.

Sound

It’s always a great sign when a game allows for dual audio, namely the original Japanese voice acting or the dubbed English version. The game has superb voice acting, in both languages, and will certainly cater to a wide audience with its very authentic static communications audio, the storytelling and the simple interactions you hear during each mission. The music also heightens the experience, even though it’s sometimes perhaps a bit overly dramatic, but it certainly suits what is going on at all times. The overall score creates a tense experience, which is certainly top notch for a game such as this.

Gameplay

The official description reads that the game is a Combat Flight Simulation Game, and for the most part this proves to be true, but when playing on lower difficulty it’s mainly the action portion that remains of said description. Nonetheless, the game proves to be straightforward, as you’ll simply have to fly around, destroy targets, sneak behind enemy lines and hopefully make it back in one piece. There’s enough content to explore, but of course, there’s only so much a game in this genre can do when it comes to content diversity.

Like any somewhat realistic flight game, the controls will take some time getting used to, but you’ll have the option to play with easier controls, or to use a more advanced control scheme. It might be best to start off with the easy set of controls and then dive into the expert settings. The game also supports the T.Flight Hotas 4, which is nice if you want to add an extra layer of realism to your experience. There is also the possibility to try out the VR features on the PS4 version, but sadly we were unable to test this portion of the game.

There’s an interesting progression system available in Ace Combat 7 that allows you to upgrade your available planes, as well as buy a reasonable amount of new ones. The latter is often needed in order to reach a new part of the upgrade tree, making sure you unlock some new aircrafts on the way. The upgrade tree is simply massive, and allows you to unlock parts as well as weapons for your available fighter jets. The parts can be equipped and will grant passive bonuses, and the weapons will of course offer solutions for certain harder to tackle missions. There’s also a big portion of multiplayer only upgrades available, making it clear there’s also a high focus on competitive online play for this title.

The multiplayer features of the game are pretty straightforward: either you blast your opponents to smithereens in teams or you go at it battle royale style. You can alter the rules to enable or disable special weaponry, part upgrades and so on, creating balance if needed. Sadly, the servers seem to be absolute shit at the moment, with more errors than successful attempts to join a game.

Conclusion

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is a very impressive entry in a long running series that was long overdue for a sequel in its canon games. The game offers ample content, a proper multiplayer experience and actually a very interesting story mode. You’ll also be treated to a realistic experience in terms of graphics, and mechanics, if you opt to have more complicated controls. If you love a good dogfight, then Skies Unknown will surely grant you that experience.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)
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Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown - Review, 9.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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