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Air Combat (PlayStation) artwork

Air Combat (PlayStation) review


"There's really nothing significant that sticks out about Air Combat, the console debut of the Ace Combat series. You just go from one mission to another, completing simple tasks that involve shooting down enemy planes or ground targets, while piloting various planes with terrible paint jobs (purple and red?!). Some of the missions are shockingly easy, too, once you realize you can ignore the enemy and fly straight towards the targets that need to be destroyed. Thanks to this, certain miss..."



There's really nothing significant that sticks out about Air Combat, the console debut of the Ace Combat series. You just go from one mission to another, completing simple tasks that involve shooting down enemy planes or ground targets, while piloting various planes with terrible paint jobs (purple and red?!). Some of the missions are shockingly easy, too, once you realize you can ignore the enemy and fly straight towards the targets that need to be destroyed. Thanks to this, certain missions can be completed in just under three minutes. The most well-thought mission in the entire game forces you to locate bases that don't show up on radar by following pipelines to their locations... That right there should give you an insight about how simple Air Combat is. It's not even that visually pleasing to the eye, as well; 95% of the game consists of staring at nearly clear skies and non-textured oceans of differing colors. When you finally do see something new, it's either a tiny island, mountains, or a city that only appears for one mission. Shoot, this could easily have been ported to the Sega Saturn with minor issues if Namco wanted to.

I'm not trying to make Air Combat sound like a terrible game, because it isn't, but it does feel underwhelming, as if Namco was playing it safe with this release. Air Combat does become a bit more challenging when you play it on the Hard difficulty setting, however, and this is mainly due to any missile hit you receive will normally destroy your plane. The enemy planes also become more smarter, too, being a pain in the butt with their quicker and riskier flying patterns. These changes do make for more exciting dogfights, and some missions that were a breeze on Normal end up being difficult on Hard. There's an escort mission that feels more like an air show on Normal, because not one opponent bothers attacking the escorted plane. On Hard, though, that plane gets shot down in a matter of minutes if you're too distracted fighting enemies that aren't even close to it.

There is one annoying problem that you run into on Hard, unfortunately: Surface to Air Missile units. Now, when opposing planes fire missiles, you can at least dodge them if you have fast reflexes. However, with SAM units, you're pretty much doomed if one locks on to your plane. To avoid destruction, you literally have to stare one right in its face, at top speeds no less, then hit it with a missile the very second your plane locks on to it. This means, for specific ground target missions, you'll need to know the exact locations of these units and approach them in a coordinated manner. You'll get shot down quite a bit before getting it right, too... If you can deal with the SAM issue, though, Air Combat will provide you with a quick distraction on Hard with the dogfights. Again, the game's simpleness really hurts the overall product, and with only 17 short missions, you can beat Air Combat in just two small gaming sessions.

Rating: 5/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (March 02, 2010)

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zippdementia posted March 07, 2010:

I really like the style of this review, but it desperately needs one more paragraph right after you say "I'm not trying to make this game sound bad, because it isn't."

You never go on to show that it isn't bad. One paragraph extolling it's (supposed) virtues would go a long way towards making this a great review.
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pickhut posted March 07, 2010:

After that sentence, I went on to say it had some nice dogfighting on Hard. Considering this is a combat game involving planes, I saw that as a good thing. The only real complaints were the extreme simpleness and the ground missile issue on Hard. I don't consider an average game to mean it's bad. It's just... average. Adding an additional paragraph wouldn't really do much good in a simple game like this. It's almost like trying to squeeze out an extra gameplay paragraph for Pong.

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