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Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation (Xbox 360)

Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation (Xbox 360) review


"Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation doesn't strive to be anything new or refreshing, instead choosing to expand on features that were implemented in previous installments. Its biggest influence, though, is Ace Combat 4, right down to the very fact that each games' wars were both affected by the Ulysses asteroid incident that was first mentioned at the beginning of AC4. This means you'll experience long missions that last up to 30 or 40 minutes, which require a return to base for reload at s..."



Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation doesn't strive to be anything new or refreshing, instead choosing to expand on features that were implemented in previous installments. Its biggest influence, though, is Ace Combat 4, right down to the very fact that each games' wars were both affected by the Ulysses asteroid incident that was first mentioned at the beginning of AC4. This means you'll experience long missions that last up to 30 or 40 minutes, which require a return to base for reload at some point. But, since AC6 is on a more advanced system, compared to AC4's then console of choice, the developers decided to do everything with a Bigger! Bigger! Bigger! mind frame. In fact, the best way to view Fires of Liberation is to compare its likeness to a summer blockbuster action movie, except you have control of what's on screen. Shoot, the first thing you see when you run the game is a dramatic trailer!

You'll definitely feel this vibe the moment you dive into the first mission. Now, with the exception of AC5, in every first mission of an AC console title, you simply had to stop a small group of planes in their lame attempt to take over a base. In AC6? They bring everything to your homeland. When you finally gain control of your jet fighter, you won't even know where to begin, because with one glance of the map, you'll see that its lower half is littered with enemies and allies, moving in all sorts of directions. You'll feel the weight of the invasion seconds after, as you navigate above the city: smoke continually pollutes the skies as planes chase one another, the ground and sea allies give it all they have, filling the atmosphere with a hail of gunfire, pilots are constantly screaming over the radio, tanks parachute into the streets, you're flying through debris of falling planes, and in the distance, you can clearly make out an entirely different battle raging on.

The first mission pretty much sets up how the rest of the campaign is going to flow. That may sound repetitive, especially since the game doesn't offer any real variety in mission-structure (like safely directing a damaged plane through an anti-aircraft field, or destroying satellites in space), but surprisingly, it never becomes tiring. AC6 clearly wanted to be a large-scale, air combat title first, compared to the other AC titles, and it never backs down from that, nor fails to excite. However, the biggest problem you'll encounter, thanks to the mountains of targets that pop up, is being able to lock on to a specific object. This actually has been something of a slight issue since AC4, but it wasn't big enough to moan about... until now. You'll find yourself in many situations where a target is clearly in front of your plane, but it just keeps choosing things off in the distance. There are even times when you are five feet away from an object you want to hit with your missiles, yet the lock on believes the AA Gun, which is almost off screen, is more important. Why couldn't the developers just program this where it would first pick the closest enemies? How hard is that?

Also, conforming to blockbuster action movie standards, the story that appears among missions is meh. It starts off promising when the war heats up in the first mission, but it quickly goes downhill afterwards. You're following three different groups of people during the war, who, conveniently, come together right at the end to deliver a plot device as the final mission begins. That was their entire purpose. Okay... yes, the other purpose was to show the war from differing viewpoints. However, the thing is, you just don't care about any of them. They don't really appear on screen that much, and when they do, they say their lines with such one-dimensional delivery. You know something's wrong when the trailer has more of an emotional pull than the complete cutscenes. Really, the only positive I can say is that the graphics during these cutscenes are shockingly better and more detailed than anything you see within the missions. Thankfully, they give you the option to skip the cutscenes and get back into the action.

Outside the campaign mode, the largest addition to the Ace Combat series is the inclusion of online multiplayer. Unfortunately, I can't comment on how it once was back on its release, but I can give my impression for anyone interested in buying the game this late, mainly for this mode. There are still people playing online, but you have to be really lucky, since you can spend up to an hour searching if you pick the wrong time to check. When you do find a match, though, 99.95% of the time, it's a team player setup, and worse, it's an unbalanced game where one team can easily get their butts handed to them. Now, what's really annoying about being a latecomer is how inexperienced you are at multiplayer, compared to the expert players that still hang around from time to time. You really can't grow, learn the ins and outs, due to always being paired against these quiet gamers. Throw in the normally empty lobbies, and you'll need to have extreme patience to stick with it. The only way to get the most out of multiplayer now is to convince 7 or 15 of your friends, who have never played AC6, to buy it, which is a feat in itself.

While multiplayer will be a disappointment to those buying AC6 years after its release, the single-player campaign mode is enjoyable; it may not be the deepest campaign, or the longest (15 missions!), but it's always fun and exciting to enter a mission with so much stuff happening around you. Sometimes you just want to stop what you're doing and observe the chaos the AI is creating. It's these types of moments that insure Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation will be one of the Ace Combat games I'll come back to again, even if some of its issues irritate.

Rating: 7/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (May 25, 2010)

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